MAP a Way to Success


In high school I once found a little key with the engraved words “Knowledge is the key to success.” As I grew up I realized the quote was really an oversimplification. There are at least three essential ingredients that play an important role towards the achievement of goals: motivation, aptitude and persistence. Equally important is that our free will allows us to control each of the three factors.


1.       Motivation   Motivation is in part an engine that powers the psyche. Whether the aim is as simple as clearing the snow off the stairs or as complex as raising a child to be a responsible citizen, there has to be an inner drive towards the accomplishment of the goal. What motivates us to reach for the shovel on a cold, blistery day? For one thing, we don’t want the snow to turn into ice and have a toddler, mother, dog or anybody slip and hurt themselves. We also don’t want nature’s elements to have an upper hand on us. Simultaneously snow-shovelling is a great opportunity to step out of our home’s artificial cocoon. Motivation can be fuelled not just from within but from our links to civilization and nature.


2.       Aptitude       There is an undeniable genetic component to inherent ability, but unlike an adult shoe size, aptitude can be improved. Some of us are born with the ability to easily make neural assemblies, but the combination of education and experience can actually perform a feat that the latest computers are incapable of. Aside from the knowledge and skills that we gain--- the equivalents of hard drive data and software--- we can improve the processor through performance itself.


3.       Persistence   In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake wrote, “If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise”. The tasks of any civilization and the pressures on any individual are varied and often overwhelming. It is too easy to conclude that we are misfits or that too much is expected of us. By sticking to a task for a reasonable amount of time, by resting in between, temporarily shifting activities and then by returning to our goals, we will often be successful. For the past two seasons Wes Welker of the Patriots has the most catches in the National Football League. He is only 5 feet 9 inches and 185 pounds. Considered too small, he was not originally recruited out of high school. Although mentally wounded, he kept practising and eventually, after someone backed out of a scholarship, he went to Texas Tech. In pro football he was cut by his first team (Chargers), and the Dolphins only used him on special teams where, on kickoff returns, he was ranked an unspectacular 20th. The next season, he was almost cut again, but his grittiness and persistence eventually led to a starting role on offence, one that he would eventually shape into the league’s most successful wide receiver.