I wrote a review the other day about the latest book by Ryan Holiday, Conspiracy, and it had a passage that keeps coming back around. In the book, which I highly recommend reading if you haven’t already, he writes:
And so the essential trait of the successful man is not only perseverance but almost a perverse expectation of how difficult it is going to be. It is having redundancies on top of redundancies, so you can absorb the losses you eventually incur. One must not just steel one’s heart but also one’s spirit so that there is no such thing as an obstacle – just information.
Nature is full of them. There are so many plants in my yard that have at least two different ways of propagating. And then of course there are the maple trees which is why I am writing this post.
I was re-staining my back deck the other day when the wind picked up and all of these maple seeds came raining down. I won’t lie, I swore like a sailor. Not so much because they landed on the freshly stained part, but because I had to put the roller down and get a broom to sweep them off the unstained part before I could continue.
It wasn’t until I was finished with the coat and inside out of the sun that I was able to appreciate the redundancy of the maple trees. I have no idea what the odds are of even one of those seeds growing to mature height, but it must be pretty high. So it makes sense that the trees make and send out so many.
So why is it that we humans can’t get it through our thick skulls that something we have planned may not work? Or we over-think something so much that we have so many redundancies that we become overwhelmed to the point of inactivity?
Of course, trees can’t think, can’t plan, but damn there has to be something we can learn from nature about this. There’s no stress involved. There’s no ‘putting all of its eggs in one basket’. There’s simply, ‘okay, I need to make more trees, let’s send out these seeds and see what happens’.
Yeah, yeah, I know, if only it was that easy. If only there was no bottom line. If only…
So maybe I’m talking about a different kind of success. The kind of success we can achieve by not being stressed-out, over-achievers all the time. The kind of success that is ‘perfectly’ okay with not being perfect. The kind of success that is content with the good that surrounds us all even if we can’t see it and aren’t grateful for it.
Yeah, I think I’ll take that kind of redundant success.