I have a quote that means a lot to me - it’s a Haitian proverb that goes like this: “Beyond mountains are mountains.” I learned this in the summer of my senior year. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant but after several years, it makes perfect sense now. Below are some of the lessons I’ve learned from taking the quote and expanding it further.
1) Perfection is Asymptotic & Unreachable. No matter how high you climb, there will be someone else who has climbed farther. No matter how good you are, there will be better. So stop comparing yourself to others - focus on YOU.
2) Challenge Yourself - Always. If you ever feel complacent, “look up and across” to see what great challenges the world has for you to vanquish. Vertically, you can always improve on something. Singing, coding, meeting strangers - there is always room for improvement. Horizontally, you can always venture to new challenges. You’ve already put in >10,000 hours into a craft? Try something new!
3) Trust Your Struggle & Remember Your Accomplishments. “Futuristic” people like me tend to have upward-facing tunnel vision and often forget all our accomplishments. If you are ever needing motivation, “look down” to see all the mountains you’ve already climbed. Don’t forget that you are where you are today because of the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put in. No one can take that away.
4) The Apex is Lonely - Help Others Reach It. If you reach the top, there are countless others below who could only wish to be that high as you are. Swallow your pride, come back down, and help others. A wise man once said “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” You’re the President of your organization? What are you doing to help your team develop new skills so that 1+1=5?
Hope these lessons may serve you well. Maybe I should explore this “extended metaphor” a little further and give a TedTalk one day.