“No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.” One may assume that Plutarch intended this rhetorically, since it definitely isn’t literally true. It’s hard to say about wetting clay specifically; but starting a job and not finishing it is certainly not uncommon. The fact of the case is that it’s business as usual for far too many folks. They probably don’t think what they start will be finished by chance and fortune; but they do figure that they won’t be the ones who have to complete it. It’s likely justifiable to conclude that they see this as good fortune, whether anyone else does or not.
Why do people do this? Why do they stop before the job is done? The famous Anon. has been sitting on the answer, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” That’s it. They start with the best of intentions but soon discover that intentions are to accomplishments as a hardy appetite is to breakfast. However you like your omelet, someone still has to crack the eggs and grease the skillet.
Newt Gingrich figured out the “why” of it. He said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” On the road to success, people get as far as “Perseverance” and then pull over and park. Perhaps they are too tired to continue, too bored to stay focused, or maybe just too trifling to take their responsibilities seriously. Whatever their excuse, they obdurately resist any suggestion that they should buckle down and take care of business. As Henry Ward Beecher expressed the principle, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t;” and some people just won’t.
Sure, sometimes you come up against can’t and won’t and can’t wins. You don’t have the knowledge, skills, or resources it takes to do what you want to do. At other times, though, won’t is clearly in the driver’s seat. When you reach that fork in the road, Josh Billings has a little advice for you, “Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”
It’s a postage stamp moment. When it’s time to do it, don’t hesitate getting around to it. Remember that you are up to it, so get down to it, and jump into it; and if you think others are blocking your way, Gen. Joseph (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell’s motto is worth adopting as your own. “Illegitimis non carborundum.” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.)
Now you know so there you go.