Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dedication Against All Odds

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
Mid 19th Century Proverb.

Too often one hears phrases such as ‘if only I could …,’ ‘I wish I could…’ or ‘I would like to, but I can’t…’ as excuses for having not achieved something. Such dismissive platitudes are frequently poor attempts to justify someone’s failure to attain a certain level of success in a matter which, when analysed objectively, is well within their reach if they would only dedicate themselves to the task. The true reasons for such failure are more a lack of motivation combined with unwillingness to persevere once the going becomes difficult.

The more successful characters in life would no doubt attest to the idea that anything is possible if one is willing to pay the price to see it come true.

If ever there was an excellent example of how dedication and single-minded determination can bring about success, then it is the tale of the concert pianist, Janina Fialkowska, highlighted today by the journalist, Elizabeth Grice, in The Daily Telegraph.

At the age of fifty, Janina Fialkowska was diagnosed with cancer in her upper left arm. A combination of surgery and radiotherapy successfully treated the cancer. However, muscle loss and nerve damage left her with little movement of her left arm. Many people, presented with her diagnosis and disability, would simply have given up. However, two years later, following the re-routing of a muscle from her back, intensive physiotherapy and a focussed mind that would not accept defeat as an outcome, Fialkowska is again playing the piano at a professional level. This is despite a residual palsy, which prevents her from holding her arm sideways away from the body, or raising it above shoulder height.

If Fialkowska can once again play a repertoire including Grieg, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt and Beethoven to a concert hall standard, then it should be an inspirational lesson to anyone who aspires to even a mere fraction of her talented skills.

As my early teachers used to preach, there is no such word as ‘can’t’. For many of the highly successful in life, the maxim is ‘failure is not an option.’ All one needs is determination to make a dream come true. All too frequently, our only obstacles or limitations are those we tend to set for ourselves.

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