post written by: Marc Chernoff

The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself


Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Inspired

Once upon a time, two thirteen-year-old boys were watching the track and field Summer Olympics events on television.  Neither of them had previously spent any time watching amateur athletes strive with their heart and soul to be their absolute best, so the boys were mesmerized by the passion, determination, and athletic grace displayed by the Olympic competitors.  In a moment of unadulterated inspiration, the two of them made a pact to become Olympic track and field competitors before their twenty-first birthdays.

That afternoon, over a glass of chocolate milk, they mapped out a rigorous training plan that involved frequent workouts both before and after school.  “If we stick to our training, we’ll be just as good the athletes on T.V.” one boy said to the other.  “I can’t wait to get started!” the other boy replied.

The next morning at 6AM the two boys woke-up, put their running shoes on, and met outside to begin their first official training session.  As they began running down the block, both of them had radiant smiles on their mugs.  “This is awesome!” one boy exclaimed as they trotted toward the sunrise.

Reality Raises One Question

About nine minutes later, a mile down the road, the harsh truth inevitably revealed itself.  Both of them were out of shape, slow, and completely out of breath.  They had no previous athletic training and no clue how difficult it would be.  All they could think about now were the aches, pains and exhaustion their bodies were experiencing.

Huffing and puffing, both boys stopped running and one fell to the ground on the side of the road.  “This is way harder than I thought,” the fallen boy said between breaths.

“Tell me about it,” the other boy agreed as he, too, fell to the ground gasping for air.  “Do you think it’s worth it?”

The other boy did not answer.  Instead, both of them rested on the cool morning grass in complete silence for several minutes, slowly regaining their breath, and thinking about the question.

Suddenly the first fallen boy forced himself to his feet.  “Yeah, I do think it’s worth it!  Do you?”

The other boy stood up slowly and nodded.  “Yeah, dude.  I think so too.”

And without further hesitation, both of them began running again.

The Journey

The following month, they joined their middle school track and field team.  With continued practice and guidance from their coach, both of them eventually placed in the top ten percentile for various middle school track competitions during their seventh and eighth grade school years.

In high school, they spent all four years on the track and field and cross country running teams.  Both of them consistently placed in the top five percentile for their grade and won various gold, silver, and bronze awards in the district competitions.  During their senior year, their track and field team made it to the state competition.  One boy walked away with a silver medal for the long jump and the other won a bronze medal for the 1500 meter run.

They both earned and accepted track and field scholarships to different state colleges.  Over the course of the next two years, even though they were apart, they trained passionately, competed head to head against one another on several occasions, and each won various collegiate events.  One time, they even placed first and second overall in the same exact event.

And although neither of them earned an Olympic medal, during their junior year of college, at the age of 20, they were reunited as teammates when they represented their country in the Summer Olympics.

Conclusion

When I was young, I was fortunate enough to have parents and mentors who taught me that the people who achieve their dreams and make the greatest impact in the world – whether athletically, musically, politically, technologically or otherwise – are rarely the most talented or gifted individuals.  They are instead the ones who work the hardest, and who are willing to overcome all obstacles to see their dreams through to fruition.

The moments when we feel uncertain about how to move forward, when we are inspired by our dreams but overwhelmed by the work required to achieve them, are the moments when we must ask ourselves one simple question:

Do you think it’s worth it?

Photo by: Millzero

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26 Comments

  • Beautiful!

    ‘Are you willing to pay the price?’ is the next question to ask yourself if you answer “Yes” to ‘Do you think it’s worth it?’

  • Definitely a strong question - I wouldn’t completely agree on the “most important” part but definitely a useful and strong question to ask.

    Goals, big or small - are worth it. :)

  • Lovely post.. Thank you.. :)

  • […] read this blog entry and I think that that the question above is profound.  I not only relate to it in my current […]

  • What an inspiring story. It reminds me of a post I recently read about writer’s block. The gist of it was “writer’s write, hacks complain about all the reasons they can’t write.” It really comes down to being committed to doing the work to reach your goal.

    Many of us like the idea of something far more than the reality it takes to get there (which is why we have fast food restaurants on every corner instead of gyms).

    I think I’d change the final question to “Are you willing to do the work to get there?”

  • The never ending question of talent versus hard work.

    My view on this is the following: talent alone will not carry you to success, but it will differentiate you from at the very top when it truly matters if you put in the hard work.

    That said with hard work alone, we can get to the top 1% of the best people in the world, but we might not become the best.

    Either way, hard work is crucial. People just like to blame their failures due to a lack of talent and what not instead of taking the responsibility to their own hands!

    Best,
    Tomas

  • Great question to ask yourself. Of course, the unspoken flip side is being able to honestly say and accept when the answer is “no.” Sometimes dropping things that truly aren’t worth it can be as beneficial as pushing through and working on things that are.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Great article, great story
    Inspired indeed ..

    ITs WORTH IT !!

  • Thanks for the kind remarks you guys.

    ;-)

    And remember… The price is fair. Your dreams are worth it.

  • What a lovely story. And a really nice way to stop and check in with yourself about whatever path you may be on. Thanks!

  • Great post and great question. It really is all about finding that thing or feeling that will continually ignite our passion because the days can be long and filled with challenges. Everything is not going to come easy and we have to be able to dig deep and persevere and know that one day we will end up where we desire. Thanks for the inspiring words. I really enjoyed this one.

  • This is a brilliant example of how we can achieve our goals in life. It is about finding where your passion lies and focusing on growing it in everything that you do.

    I found this great article that also inspired me - http://myamazingpeople.com/2009/12/11/amazing-people-psychology/

  • Thank you. You guys write such awesome, powerful masterpieces every single time.

  • Another awesome story Marc…are you going to reveal who the two atheletes were?

  • Great story. I think this is the key to so many people’s success. When you do something for the right reasons–because you truly desire it & it’s worth it to you–it’s so much easier to look past the aches & pains along the way,

  • Well to all you teens, tweens, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, et al. Listen up: Listen to this ’story’. Go out and achieve what you are now dreaming about. Without whining about it, I’m now sixty-something, partially disabled and feel I missed my chance at the ‘dream’ of life harbored in my soul.
    I still have some time left to achieve it but I let way too much of my healthy time on earth slip uneventfully by. ….regrets.

  • nice and inspiring post mark :)

  • I was just a point, where I was getting a bit off track while pursuing my website dream. I wanted to share whatever I learnt and learn whatever interested me on my blog…

    But I became too caught up with my job to give full attention to my site - something I really liked thinking about and pursuing.

    In some small way, your post has made my dream just a bit stronger and bolder in my heart.

    “Do you think it’s worth it?”…I do.

  • “The Most Important Question” is a clean, convincing narrative of boys growing up to represent their county in the Olympics that reminds the reader of some of the unavoidable components of success: passion, determination, goal clarity, uncertainty, and continually asking the important question that you pose.

    Your posing of questions like the question, “Is it worth it?” and in “One Decision That Changes Everything” - “What can I do right now that will make me more successful in my own eyes?” - “What do I really want?” is great use of Socratic method, of seeking wisdom through probing questions. Sometimes the answer is “I don’t know” until a point later, after more experience, reframing, or evolution of external events.

    This is provocative healthy stuff for your readers, yourself, for all of us.

  • All of us has the capacity for greatness. It is only up to us if we chose to believe in it. :-)

  • This reminds me of Randy Pausch’s (The Last Lecture) saying, “The brick walls are there for you to prove how much you want something. They are to keep the ‘other’ people out.” I agree that if you really want something, with hard work and perseverance, it can be achieved.

    And this last thought by anonymous:
    Don’t be afraid to fail

    You’ve failed many times, although you don’t remember.
    You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
    You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim.
    Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?
    Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.
    R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
    English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
    Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times but he also hit 714 home runs.
    Don’t worry about failure.
    Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

  • Agree that hard work is the key as Edison said - it is one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration.

  • Beautiful post, beautiful. Hard work is only hard if you are either not passionate about it or you are not fully present whilst doing it. Stop labelling things and al is easy and well.

  • Awhile back, I read your blog/article about the most important question you can ask yourself. ‘Do
    you think it’s worth it?’

    I don’t want to give you a life story, but I was having a lot of controversy in life. I was wasting time with all my school work, and partying way too much. So I asked myself that question, and well, it’s turned my life around for the better.

    I just wanted to thank you for that. You’ve made a big difference in my life.

  • WOW! so true. :) thanks for the post. God bless.

  • Thank you very much for this short story. I always keep it in my mind. And it does help me in the hard time. It is very worth reading this. I feel bad if i do not leave any comment here. :)

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