December 7 – Arriving at the peak is no accident

December 7. “The man on the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” (Anonymous)

There is an annoying tendency in this country of late to bash those at the top, and to vilify them. I see it mostly when it comes to the rampant dislike for CEOs, but I also see it when it comes to Sports teams, politicians, and others. I don’t know if it is born of envy, frustration, competitive spirit, or some combination of these and other forces, but it is most definitely a palpable reality.

It has become quite fashionable in recent years to blame the ills of workers on the “CEO”. They are usually portrayed as suit-wearing, upper-middle-aged, overweight, balding men in stock photography and popular media. They are shown as being uncaring at best, and callous at worse, as they sit in their ivory towers moving people’s lives about like chess pieces.

To be sure, there are some people who are heads of corporations that are not very nice people, just as there are people in middle management who aren’t, and there are janitors who aren’t. Niceness is not inversely proportional to a person’s position in a company. The spectrum of people’s characters knows no pay grade structure. There are saints and assholes at all levels of society, and all levels of a large company. But to watch popular media, or read many news stories you wouldn’t know that.

Today’s quote puts me in mind of all this. I think that anytime someone reaches the top of their profession, they have done so because of hard, diligent work. They have sacrificed hours and even years of their time to get there. While there, if they are to remain successful, the work only increases. This quote, though, tells a fundamental truth. Those who have reached the top didn’t get their by accident. To get to the top of the proverbial, or even the literal mountain, one must climb. That climb is hard, and not all will make it. Some will decide to stay at the base camp and be perfectly content to live there. Others will start the ascent, only to be turned back because of the enormous and difficult effort.

Of those who do make it, few stay there long. There are always people clamoring up behind them who wish to push them back down the other side. And, those who reach a particular mountaintop are rarely satisfied with reaching that goal. Many times they look for the next challenge, the next mountain to climb because they are achievers of the first order.

To reach the tops of the mountains that I am ascending, I must be willing to put in the hard work. And, I cannot allow myself the space to be envious of those who have gone before me. If I see others ahead of me on the path it is because they started earlier, worked harder, have more ability than I, or some combination of all of them. Regardless, the point is that they have achieved what I seek. For me to get there I must continue to work hard, and not assume that they landed where they are by some serendipitous accident.

Today my reflection is on hard work, and perseverance. To get to the top takes large measures of both.

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