“If you would be great, look with respect on those who attempt great things, even though they fail.” – Seneca
Everyone who goes before us, everyone we reach to for guidance, everyone we look up to from our current position, they have all failed at self mastery. They have failed to accomplish goals they set for themselves. They have all failed to live up to the standards they have set for themselves.
Because they all set their goals further than they knew was possible. And because they were working towards a goal that seemed to move away from them the closer the got to achieving it, they made it further than they ever would have if they had set a goal that they knew was reasonable at the beginning.
And therein lies the trick to self mastery. We can’t set reasonable goals in the beginning because we have no idea how much improvement we are capable of over the next few weeks, or the next few months or even the next year. And we are always at the beginning. This path doesn’t follow a simple linear formula where we make steady progress. We may very well make little, hardly noticeable progress for weeks, maybe even months on end and then suddenly something clicks for us and within a week our skills at detachment or emotional discipline to choose two examples, have more than tripled.
And so we stay on the path, and we set the goals beyond our reach, and we keep reaching because we have no idea just how much we are capable of.
Let’s surprise ourselves.
virtus fortis vocat