If at first you don’t succeed…
We’ve all heard many famous stories of success. Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Oprah (who doesn’t even need a reference to her last name because she’s so renowned). Check this out and you’ll be reminded of some insanely successful people who really did go through some hurdles to overcome adversity and do amazing things.
Not to take anything away from the determination and grit of these amazing people, but we know their stories because their success has made them famous. There are thousands of other stories of perseverance that would touch your heart just the same, or MORE.
Traveling two weekends ago, I took the recommendation of a friend and settled in to watch the Oscar-nominated movie “Lion” on the plane. Based on a true story and novel (which I now plan on reading!), “A Long Way Home,” the movie is about Saroo Brierley who, at the age of 5, falls asleep on a train in India and ends up lost in Calcutta hundreds of miles away. He speaks another language and doesn’t know the name of his town or his mother. He fortunately is adopted by a wonderful family in Australia. But he never gives up the hope or idea of seeing his mother again, and with little more than Google Earth and some fragmented 5-year-old memories he begins his search. I won’t spoil the end of the movie because you should watch this ASAP, but the perseverance of this man was so emotional for me.
It got me thinking about other phenomenal stories of dedication that never make the big screen but are equally as heart-warming. Think of the stories just in your circle of family and friends. We all have them. I think of my grandma, newly married, who had to say goodbye to her groom as he went to war in Korea. They communicated via letters for a year. I cannot imagine the worry, the lonely nights, the straight-out fear of the unknown. I reflect on the stories I grew up hearing of the times spent with this same grandmother as my parents moved in to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital with my brother. The long drives after work my dad took to see his son, only to drive home to see me quickly before a short night and quick return to work to make a dent in the medical bills.
I see first-hand stories of determination, in some of my oncology patients whose day to day can be a steep mountain to climb. I see mothers who do it all on their own, grandparents who are starting their parenting years over raising their grandchildren. I see addicts trying to get clean and sustain it. I see people battle with mental illness and its death grip. The hearts of these patients speak loudly even when there are no words, and the inspiration we give each other is why I embrace what I do.
How do you persevere in your life? What challenges do you face and how do you fight through them? Some of our hardships are time-limited… grad school threatened to take me down BUT I persevered knowing there was a finish line. Other obstacles do not have a time line and the way we manage them is a process. When my children came into my life I thought, “there’s NO HANDBOOK!” Help! When we became a divorced family (my kids take partnership in this and say… when WE got divorced), the need for a handbook got so much bigger. I accept that persevering through this “situation” will be something that challenges me my whole life. From hard goodbyes to future weddings, how I evolve the process will be a constant example to my children of my commitment to stay the course for them.
Success means a million different things. For Saroo, success would not come until he found his mother. For my grandma, it meant seeing my grandpa again after war. For an addict success means sobriety, forever, they must persevere for a lifetime. For me, success is always making a positive impact, on my family, my patients, my children. It means living gracefully when all I want to do is stomp my feet and throw in the towel. It means trying again the next day. Whatever success means for you, whatever perseverance looks like, on scales large and small, remember all you have to do is try, try again.