Tandem triumphans

The author of this column recently triumphed over some utility bills. Jacob Lundborg.

The title of this article comes from my favorite political movement to include my name: The Jacobites. Their slogan means “Triumphant at Last,” and if you know the story of the failed Jacobite insurrections in 1715 and 1745, the slogan is actually quite ironic. The slogan originated  in 1745, after the first minor victory of Prince Charles Stuart in his effort to reclaim the throne of Britain for his father. Though initially victorious, the bonnie Prince and his primarily Scottish troops were eventually defeated at Culloden, the last battle to ever take place on British soil.

I think there is a lesson to be learned from the words of the Jacobites. We are altogether too willing to claim victory too soon.

As humans, we tend to underestimate the amount of dedication, hard work and perseverance that is required to achieve our objectives. Whether the goal is to learn a new skill, change people’s mindsets, create something new or really to do anything at all, we often find that our hard work and dedication does not pay off as quickly as we would like. We think life is like an 80s montage: brief periods of hard work that last about as long as a power ballad. While I love “Hearts on Fire” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” as much as anyone, it’s silly to think that learning to dance and getting back into shape can be done as quickly and easily as Rocky IV and Footloose would suggest.

Here in America we have been seduced into believing that hard work is directly proportional to success. It isn’t. We also often need a receptive audience, help from others and, frankly, a little luck to succeed.

But because we seldom think of these other important components we often get frustrated when our hard work amounts to naught. When this happens it can be very easy to give up. To press on is one of the highest human virtues and the secret to the success of all leaders who inspire us to do great things.

In these times I like to remember Tandem Triumphans. I like to think about what it would mean to be triumphant at last. I like to think about the day when my goals will be met, when my battles have been won. Too often in our struggles we forget why we decided to fight for them in the first place. We lose ourselves and our purpose in the struggle. This is why it is so very important to keep our ends in mind and to think about what final victory will mean for us. This allows us to prioritize our time and maximize our potential. So long as we keep our eyes on the broad sunlit uplands of our idealized future we will never forget why we are fighting. If your goals are truly noble and virtuous this should ever be your comfort and solace.