Friday, March 5, 2010

The Weight of Expectation

"The grander the scale of Edison's ambitions, and the greater the skepticism that he had had to overcome, the happier he had been. Once the electric light had been introduced, however, he found himself in a difficult position. How could he possibly sustain the pace of accomplishments of the previous five years? He could not shrug off the expectation that the Wizard of Menlo Park could accomplish anything. He was thirty-five years old, and the rest of his long life was devoted to attempts to make the inspiration that brought the phonograph and the electric life return."
Randall Stross, The Wizard of Menlo Park (New York: Crown Publishers, 2007), 139.
I wonder if Michael Phelps feels like Thomas Edison did. How does Phelps repeat what he did in China two years ago? 8 gold medals. I wonder if he thinks about his performance in a similar fashion to Edison's thoughts about life after the phonograph & electric light. London might bring home more medals - but there is no way he can conjure up what he did @ Beijing. Edison went on to do more after the age of 35, but none of it ever compared to the magnitude of those moments after the electric light.
Where does that leave the rest of us? We might never attain the fame or prestige that Edison or Phelps have - but we certainly each have goals and dreams. When we accomplish those dreams, where do we go after that? All my life I have wanted to "fill in the blank"...when that happens, what's next? I think the answer lies in what Mr. Stross called "attempts to make the inspiration return." We keep trying. We keep pushing. We keep innovating. We keep dreaming. Once the hill has been conquered - find a new hill to climb. The glory might never equal that of your first accomplished dream - but it is the continued push forward that inspires as much as the original accomplishments. Never let fear of increased expectation keep you from moving forward.


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