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A great inventor once said that opportunity is missed by most people, because it is often dressed in overalls and looks like work. Think about that for a moment. I am a great fan of the Renaissance period... Michelangelo in particular. To me, those were days when words like 'genius' and 'maestro' carried far more weight, and implied far more commitment than they typically do today. We live in the age of drive-thru restaurants, microwave meals, remote-controls, escalators and elevators. Now, I won't deny that these and numerous other inventions have made our lives far more convenient these days. However, I have to wonder what affect the associated mindset has had on the collective work-ethic of modern society in general as we know it. I have to wonder about the things that we value as important and worthwhile today, and the lengths to which we are willing to go to attain them.

In centuries gone by, individuals like Michelangelo were intimately familiar with the concept of engaging in grueling work in order to achieve the best possible results at what they devoted their time and energy to. They sweated and bled night and day, pushing themselves ceaselessly towards excellence...often devoting many years to completing one magnificent piece of art, sculpture or music. These were people who understood that the realization of dreams and passions was to be found on the other side of diligence and hard work. Consider one of my favorite quotes of all time: "The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.".

Hard work. It has become an unpopular concept in the 'First World' in the 21st century. These days, we find an ever increasing number of so-called "self-help gurus" talking about the overwhelming power of positive thinking as a comprehensive tool in and of itself, which can be utilized in making our vocational, financial and relational dreams a reality. "Think positive thoughts.", they tell us. "Put out positive energy and you'll attract the things you want.", they admonish. Apparently, all it takes is a healthy dose of positive mental gymnastics and we'll wake up one day and find ourselves overtaken by our desires. How novel. The problem is, this kind of thinking is in stark contradiction to not only the collective, millennia-old wisdom of esteemed philosophers and spiritual leaders, but also to the overwhelming evidence that we find exhibited to the contrary today...if we are honest enough with ourselves to admit to it.

For those searching for the secret that will secure satisfaction and sustained peace, brace yourself. Here it is: faith without works is dead. Period. Put another way, aspirations and positive thoughts that are not backed up by constructive and purposeful action are doomed to remain entirely unfulfilled. Worse yet, they turn toxic, fester, and ultimately cause a life-time of lament and regret. It is only action that is able to alter circumstances and destinies alike. A desire for something must be partnered with the willingness to work and sacrifice for it, for if that willingness is lacking, so is the desire along with it.

Seth Czerepak is a Personal Achievement Expert, the Vice President of VQ Success and creator of the behavioral transformation strategy "Value Driven Transcendence," a powerful combination of Axiology Science, Human Needs Psychology and NLP.

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