Richard Monckton Milnes once said “The virtue lies in the struggle not in the prize”. The first time I heard this I was junior in high school. It was the day before the conference championship and my track coach was talking to us in the locker room. I thought he was just telling us this because he knew we weren’t going to well. And I believed it for a long time until he said the same thing the following year. And he knew we were going to win. He made me realize that it isn’t a loser’s mentality, but rather someone who is successful.
It’s a successful person because successful people usually achieve their goal. Or else they wouldn’t be a successful person. They get what they strive for. The achievement loses its meaning. But if they work hard and then achieve the goal, it means something. It is the struggle not the prize that makes us cherish an accomplishment.
Take the New York City marathon, thousands of runners compete in it each year and maybe a dozen or so think they have a chance to win. Instead, the marathon runners do it because of the accomplishment it is to finish the marathon. The feeling comes from putting in the work for months before the race, the work they put in during the race and the fatigue they feel afterwards.
In my own life, one accomplishment stands out above the rest: getting my letters. I was recently inducted in ZBT and it was one of the best feelings of my life. And it wasn’t because my letters were not just given to me, I had to earn them. I had to work harder than I ever expected. And the day that I finally worked hard enough to earn the privilege of putting them on, is a day that I will never forget. It will stay with me because of the work I put into earning the right of being in ZBT. It is because of the time and effort I put into becoming a brother that I feel proud everyday I wear my letters.
The feeling of success doesn’t come from being having things handed to you. It comes from earning something. Putting your all into achieving something, where you are pushed to your limits and then some. It is the hard work and the process of reaching our goal that we truly remember. That’s what keeps up going, that feeling of accomplishment.
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