Certain qualities or virtues are found in people who succeed in life such as commitment (to their vision), perseverance (in spite of fear) and confidence (believing in themselves). The good news is that anyone can cultivate and master these qualities to become unstoppable in their pursuit of a passion, dream or goal.
Ever heard of Maisie Devore? She is one unstoppable person. From her small town of Eskridge, Kansas, Maisie, in her early 50’s, dreamed of building a swimming pool for the town’s children to enjoy. When she found out that she could raise cash by collecting aluminum cans and redeeming them at the local recycling center, her crusade to build the pool began.
Rain or shine Maisie drove her old pick-up truck around town hunting for cans in the trash. The town’s people even gave her cans. She did this, at times, to the point of exhaustion, and she got a lot of grief. People called her “Crazy Maisie.” That didn’t stop her. Thirty years and six million redeemed cans later, the nickels, dimes and dollars added up to more than $83,000! Maisie also made afghans and quilts to raffle off, picked wild berries to sell as homemade jams and jellies, and even sold scrap metal. In all, she had raised $100,000. With that money and a grant from the state of Kansas for $73,000, the pool opened in 2001 in her name. She was 83.
What drove Maisie? How did she stay motivated for all those years? Six virtues defined her character and kept her motivated on the path to success.
1. Dream, Commit and Take Action
We all have a passion, a dream, a goal. If it’s to write a book, run a marathon, start a non-profit or even build a community swimming pool, whatever that desire is, once we commit to it, a mental shift happens from thought to action. Instantly, we have purpose and direction. We don’t let circumstances run our life. We instead take the helm and steer our ship towards the desired destination.
Now how we weather the storms is proof of how true our commitment is. It’s not enough to simply commit and then cave in to self-doubt, criticism, disappointment, and frustration, which is sure to come up when achieving anything worthwhile. If we are truly committed, then we have a pit-bull like determination to achieve our goal. But the key to success lies in our commitment to making that goal a priority in life, often above all and with sacrifice.
2. Confidence and Belief in Oneself
When an interviewer from the CBS Sunday Morning show asked Maisie how she managed to not get discouraged over the years, she said, “If you think you can do it, usually one way or another you can get it done, and if you think you can’t do it, you won’t do it.” Maisie’s unshakable belief in herself and the project fueled her hard work. Henry Ford said it best, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Confidence in ourselves and what we are committed to will undoubtedly increase our chance for success with any goal. In the movie, Apollo 13, NASA Flight Director famously said to his crew in their efforts to get the astronauts home safely, “Failure is not an option”. This is the mentality that creates miracles.
3. Faith Helps Us Focus on the End
Having faith is an inner knowing that things will work out without any evidence that it’s true. A great example of this is a conversation from the movie filmed in Italy, Under the Tuscan Sun, based on a book by Frances Mayes. Actor Vincent Riotta is consoling actress Diane Lane, who is frustrated and upset over the fact that nothing seems to be going her way and that what she wanted in her life hadn’t arrived yet. Here is what Vincent said to her:
“Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.”
Faith is knowing in our hearts, after staking claim to something, that, if we keep focusing on the end result, consistently laying the ground work to have it happen, then it will certainly come.
4. The Courage to Succeed No Matter What
In spite of people calling her, “Crazy Maisie,” Maisie Devore did not let that criticism get in the way of her dream. People can be harsh when they see other people moving outside of what is considered normal behavior. Sometimes people become naysayers. They may feel threatened by a person’s changing behavior. But, if this interferes with our commitments, all is lost. It takes great courage to push past criticism and continually be authentic in who you are and what you want.
Now known as “Amazing Maisie,” she never let people’s opinions bother her; it was unimportant.
5. Overcoming Obstacles by Persevering
Lucille Ball, The Beatles, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Abraham Lincoln —what did they have in common? They either failed or were criticized by authorities. If they chose to end it right there, such extraordinary talent would have gone wasted. This is the power of perseverance, the willingness to press on in spite of criticism, failure, fear, and self-doubt. We must have a certain mental toughness and inner strength to stay with a commitment to a dream, to our talents.
Imagine if Fred Astaire, at a screen test for the movie Funny Face, had listened to the studio’s verdict: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.” Fortunately, for us all, he didn’t take it personally.
6. Purposefulness and Passion
“Many persons have the wrong idea about what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose, “ said Helen Keller.
Once we devote ourselves to a worthy purpose, our life becomes meaningful and when it’s combined with passion, we have a recipe for greatness. We can easily be distracted from our goals by life’s curve balls and our daily obligations. But to be true to ourselves and what we want is an important act of self love and give’s our life purpose and meaning.
What in your life have you been unstoppable in? Please share what it was and what virtues helped you in achieving your goal.