Cross the Street (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 192)
“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
— Ernest Hemingway
The story is told of a restauranteur in Boston whose business had encountered great difficulty during the Great Depression. He was worried and feared that he would have to close down sooner than he wanted. A former rival of his in the restaurant business was doing quite well across the street.
The man was just about to shut his doors when an old friend walked in. The friend stood for a long time next to the restaurant owner looking out the window at the people ambling in and out of the restaurant across the street.
After what seemed like a long silence, the old friend, knowing of the restaurant’s predicament, asked, “Well, what are you going to do?”
The man looked puzzled and thought a little before saying, “I’m going to shut it down; we can’t compete with him.”
The old friend said, “Shutting down is never the answer. You’ll never know if you can compete or not if you take that route. Why don’t you just cross the street.”
The man took his friend’s advice and did exactly that. He crossed the street. And from that day on, even in the middle of a deep and difficult depression, the former rivals partnered together and developed a profitable and successful restaurant.
Most people give up just before they reach the point of success. Few experience the accomplishment of a goal simply because they quit too soon. It often goes without being thoroughly understood that obstacles are the path everyone must take. Go behind the scenes of any person’s life and you will see some form of pain, loss, or heartbreak that helped to form that person’s character.
There is always a way out. But most times that way out is through losses, rejections, setbacks, and failure. If you quit now, you will never know what possibilities or opportunities lie ahead. You will face many temporary defeats in your life but that is all they are — temporary. It is not the fact that you will experience them that counts; it is how you handle them that makes the difference.
Be willing to cross the street. Turn the corner. Write a new page in your life’s story. Most people lose hope and stop fighting for their dreams when they are just one step away from it. Most of us think in terms of A to Z, but it is not just about the starting point and the ending point. It is what you do in between A and Z that is most important.
Someone said a long time ago, “if you quit now, you’ll be quitting for the rest of your life.” Life requires failure. It is a prerequisite for success. The faster you understand that, the more likely you are to keep moving when everything and everyone around and everything within you says to stop. The best thing you can do is fail until you succeed. The worst thing you can do is fail and quit.
How does one learn to walk, to eat, to talk, to drive, to work, to learn? We learn from experience. We succeed by practice. If you just keep going and refuse to give up, you will eventually get to where you are supposed to go. The journey isn’t going to be easy — no one has promised you that it would be. But it will be meaningful and significant.
When failure and setbacks happen, the easiest way out is to quit. When we don’t immediately see a way forward, the most logical thing to do is throw up our hands and close down shop. But that is what most men and women do. The longer you hang in there, the closer you will get to achievement. Many times, your greatest success will only come after your greatest defeat.
“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
— Ralph Ellison