18 November 2005

How to Fail


That's the easiest way I know to fail.......quit!

There are lots of other ways, of course, but they're more complicated.

Lately I've heard the analogy comparing Americans to runners:
Many say we're sprinters, not marathoners.
Our enemies have learned this and know that to defeat us, all they have to do is be patient.
In our present, video game, "immediate gratification" society, we don't have the stomach to wait very long for success.

When I came home from my year in lovely Southeast Asia,
one of my heroes was a runner from Oregon
named Steve Prefontaine.
"Pre" was a long distance runner.
He was a short man for his chosen sport......had to take several steps while the tall guys took one.
But he was extraordinary.
He knew that if he could suffer more short term pain
than his opponents, he could outlast and defeat them.
He ended up with records that still stand in NCAA history, and ran in the Olympics in 1972.

Two very similar movies were made of his life, and I recommend them both:

  • Prefontaine

  • and
  • Without Limits

  • Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, a Democrat,
    and, I'm sorry to say, a fellow Viet Nam veteran,
    has started us down the "Iraq = Viet Nam" road.

    By reading books written by North Vietnamese authors like General Giap, we now know we had the Viet Nam conflict won, until the John Kerry types aided and abetted the enemy there.
    We believed their negativity. We allowed them to convince us the short term pain was not worth the long term success.

    We quit.
    And the failure, particularly knowing with hindsight that we were winning, makes Viet Nam veterans furious.

    Will we make the same mistake today?
    In the face of so much success.....Lebanon, Libya, trends in Egypt and Iran, successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, can we be convinced we are suffering too much pain and losing the upper hand?

    I hope not. Look at France today and think of the long term complications.

    Then think of "Pre's" recipe for success: keep the goal in sight and be ready to suffer more short term pain than your opponent.

    Any other plan is a recipe for long term decline.

  • Someone agrees with me
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