Once upon a time, Emperor Julian “the Apostate” – Protector of Rome, burned his own army’s ships after crossing the Tigris river during his war with Persia – so there would be no thought of going back.
The point of no return.
Victory or death.
Do or die.
This mad emperor risked everything for the love and glory of Rome.
He was face-to-face with another great army -the Persians. So, he knew the only way to win was by playing a big move. He took the ultimate risk – which is to lay down your life for something you believe in.
He went all the way. For that, the world shall remember him till the end of days.
If we know one thing about history, that it is written by the winners. So one might begin to wonder what would have happened, if Julian’s army was slaughtered that day? What would have happened if the Persians won that battle?
I guess it is fair to assume his act would have been wiped out from the history books, and we would have missed on the chance to learn about Julian’s fearlessness and bravery.
But there is another lesson here; that you can expect the best only if you are prepared for the worst.
We live in a time where the words “taking risks” are being thrown around loosely and without any basic understanding of the consequences. You hear very self-proclaimed entrepreneur or self-help coach praises failure and its virtues. They recite the famous failure stories of Walt Disney, J.K.Rowling and Michael Jordan – not quite understanding that these stories only became relevant after these legends have achieved a stardom level of success.
They will advise you to quit your job. To start your own business. To put all your life’s savings in the stock market. To follow your dreams. To ask your secret crush out on a date.
And still, we go through life and we don’t really meet a lot of people who have actually made it.
The opposite of success is not always failure. Most of the time, it is mediocrity.
The people you meet everyday on the street; they have office jobs. They pay their mortgage. They send their kids to good schools. They get drunk on weekends. They travel during the summer. They post about their happy lives on social media.
Truth is, we are these most people.
We live in monotony.
All because we are not prepared for the worst-case-scenarios.
The humiliation that comes with failure. The public fall-out. That sinking feeling in our stomach when we finally realize that we aren’t good enough. That maybe, we don’t really have that X-Factor.
When you go all the way, you either write history, or history will wipe you out like you have never even existed.
Understanding this, then making peace with it are what separate you from achieving your dreams.
You remember that guy who almost made it?
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery – isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” ― Charles Bukowski, Factotum.