If a fellow in a ‘97 Civic challenges a dude in a ‘20 Porsche to a race, we’re not going to blame him for the loss. Getting to sixty miles an hour in a 1997 Honda Civic takes about 9.6 seconds. The 2020 Porsche GT3 RS takes around 2.9 seconds.
In this case, we don’t critique the loss. We critique the attempt. A terrible Civic driver who dumps the clutch and gives up with a pout before even finishing the run? Not worth our accolades.
Put the world’s best Formula One champion in a Civic, and even he won’t win against a soccer mom in a GT3 RS. But his attempt will be impressive.
The goalposts are relative to your starting position.
No one is asking that you be the best in the world. That’s not even possible, statistically, except for one amazing person. Seven billion six hundred fifty million people stand between you and the best. The chances are slim that you are the best. That’s not the goalpost, though.
The goalpost is the attempt, and what you’ve done with what you’ve been given.
And that is the crucial part about success. That is why the orphan who grew up penniless in an African slum (yet ends up securing himself a job and a family and a better life) has done better than the person who was born into middle-class Western society and ended up with a worse job, less ambition, and a less happy family than his parents.
If you were born in the West, you were born with massive wealth. Even an average American high school education, middle class job, and social stability has positioned you ahead of vast tranches of the world.
Squandering what you started with — that wealth of money, education, income, cultural stability — is a terrible thing.
Not using this position to better yourself, your circle, your locus of control, and the world around you is a bad attempt. Sure, there may be someone in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. You may be in a Honda Civic.
But at least you have a car.
It’s faster than a donkey.
If you don’t try, you’ve squandered it all.