This I Believe

Adam - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that the most important thing that anyone learns in school is how to face a challenge. Life is filled with challenges. Challenges are the basis of our life, the very heart of our existence as human beings. Challenges, in the usual sense, are situations in which one must overcome adversity and accomplish a goal – conquering the challenge, as many people say. I believe that the most important thing in life is how a person approaches a challenge.

From an early age my parents always taught to tackle assignments from school with confidence. They hated to see me stay up late and slave away at a paper that was due the next day – which, of course, had been assigned three weeks earlier. I tried to follow my parents’ advice – they were usually right.

Once I read a quote from Tommy Lasorda: “The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.” These words were so powerful and so full of meaning for me that I have remembered them ever since. I believe that this is very true; any amount of talent belonging to a lazy person is worthless, but a determined and perseverant person, even with few abilities, who is willing to keep trying, is bound to succeed eventually.

The people who are too confident in their own abilities often are too focused on achievement and they cease to see the value of hard work in accomplishment. There were kids like this at my middle school. When we had a project to do at school, they were the ones who would chat in the computer lab instead of doing research, saying that they would just breeze through the assignment at home the day before it was due. Usually these kids ended up working all night. I would know – in middle school I was like this too.

I never knew very many people who belonged to the opposite sort – those who would give up all hope when faced with a challenge. In the face of challenges these people immediately looked for a quick exit, an “Oh, I’ll do it later” approach – not from laziness, but from a lack of confidence. They could not muster up the courage to face a challenge, for fear of failure. If they would try they could succeed.

I believe that in the end the best approach, as Lasorda famously said, is to be determined and perseverant, but also to be in the middle of the spectrum between overconfidence and lack of confidence. Although it takes confidence to have determination, overconfidence is not beneficial either. Perseverance is a critical part of success in life, and although some people think that they can succeed without hard work, this illusion evaporates painfully at some point. Perseverance is the product of the confidence and determination that a person can muster in the face of a challenge. This I believe.