One of my favorite people to learn from is Victor Neiderhoffer, not because of his successes but because of his perseverance in the face of such great losses.
I think that when someone achieves great successes, they become established and accustom to a certain level of life. What happens when success is taken away and the finish line becomes the starting line once more? I remember when I was in basic training and we would pass the calendar of events every night. Soldiers would line up to peer at its obscure inscriptions detailing phases and training events. For me the only important dates were the tests that determined succession, and the graduation date because my greatest fear was always having to start over. I remember in elementary school hearing about kids that had to repeat grades, I was terrified of such practices, unable to fathom how horrid falling behind my peers would be.
Later in life, as more and more fall behind it becomes more acceptable to lose ground. Many simply quit, or veer off in alternate directions and the road of life becomes delineated. These past few years for me have been a catch up, not to where I think I should be, but to where I want to be.
As a child I have always been quick to consider the consequences of loss. I became fascinated with the spider and her web. I would seek them out in their glimmering corners of the world and find them hard at work, fashioning such masterpieces of symmetry and strategy. Distinctive colored banana spiders, posed aggressively in the centers of their webs motioning to any would be interloper.
Upon an encounter I would study them for a few moments at first, then readily destroy them indiscriminately. The spider is eternally unscathed, she knows not defeat but only duty. It is her duty to refashion a web, begin again as her life skills will never tarnish, and she will never cease utilizing them. This always fascinated me.
I was at work last night finishing up while I overheard my boss detailing the wine order for the restaurant. She indicated that she was ordering four bottles and then corrected herself to six, jibing her mother about the fact that she usually drinks two bottles. The mother added dryly that it was either that or anti-depressants. Rather than chalk this up to the sometime negative correlation between success and happiness I wondered if she were to lose her brand new Mercedes and nice wardrobe, would she be happier starting over?
I think many people live life in the fear of loss, as they are defined by their material equity rather than human capacity. Ask yourself what would you do if you lost everything you had, would you give up, or start over?