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The Precipice of Success

The Precipice of Success is a giant, pointy mountain that looks like this (see right):

The right side of the mountain offers great success, interviews on the Today show, a bed of roses, and all the chocolates you can eat. But on the left, the nasty vacuum cleaner of defeat sucks you down into Terrible Failure.

Who takes care of that vacuum cleaner? Somebody had to plug it into the wall. Somebody changes its vacuum cleaner bags. Somebody pointed it in your general direction. But who? Perhaps it was you. Sure you may have critics, detractors, and generally bad people who want to see you fail, but you plugged the vacuum in yourself if you let them get to you.

I always feel as if I'm on the verge of one of these two things: great Success and great Nothingness. In other words, there's the tiniest possibility that I'll make something really worthwhile of my life, but that bit of hope is eclipsed by the idea that I will try and try to accomplish something important only to end up old and frustrated instead. It's usually all I can do not to give up and throw myself down the left side of the mountain, where I'd be lazy and anonymous in my flannel pajamas and watching Seinfeld reruns every day after my 8 to 5 day job. That hasn't happened...yet.

Happily, there's a little secret about the right side of the mountain: success begets success. It's one of the greatest motivators. Let's say you go out and buy a metal detector, make a few passes over an interesting patch of ground, and find an old Masonic trinket. The excitement of your find gives you the energy and impetus to continue looking for treasure. On the other hand, what if you spend an hour or more sweeping over the ground with nothing to show for it? Your arm starts to ache from the weight of the metal detector. You start to think this was a dumb idea, that it was a goofy waste of money — not to mention your time. Eventually you may consign the device — along with dreams of exciting finds — to the garage forevermore. Just as success begets success; failure, unfortunately, begets failure.

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