Out of My Way: Determination Will Prevail


Today, I am going to talk about two characters that I guarantee have never been discussed in the same conversation before: Nathaniel Taggart, railroad tycoon from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop.

Nathaniel Taggart is described as, “a man who never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him.” A penniless adventurer from New England, he built a railroad across a continent in the days when steel rails were emerging. He had a pioneer spirit and a firm confidence in his own actions.

Axel Foley is a wise-cracking cop from Detroit, a man who will disobey orders and follow his own in order to serve the way of justice. He is a good man, loyal to his friends and a steady hand in a shootout.

The similarity here is determination. Each man, though very different in many ways, will follow his own lead to accomplish his goal. Be it railroads built where others have either quit or been stopped, or tackling a drug lord despite being arrested and ordered not to interfere, these men refuse to acknowledge obstructions to their purpose.

The reason I draw the comparison here is because it’s important to know when to say “to hell with conventional tactics” and make a move on your own. There is no rulebook on life except the law, which is a pretty strict one, but my point is that just because someone said you should be a doctor or shouldn’t be an author doesn’t mean that can’t be what you do. Go ahead, be a floral arrangement designer or a pet therapist. Try what you want to try! Don’t let someone else tell you what you can or cannot do with your life. If you have a goal, work hard towards it and don’t let anything get in your way.

Taggart and Foley are extreme examples of determination and a disregard for convention. If a system doesn’t work, don’t wonder when it will change, wonder what you can do to fix it. If you see a need for something in the world, strive to provide it. Whether your motive is personal gain or a sense of responsibility to your community or your family or whatever, work hard for it and watch your ambitions become reality.

I want to write the next great American novel, win the Pulitzer prize, and then do it again. What’s to stop me other than my own mental blocks? Winning a Pulitzer is so hard, there are so many writers out there, my ideas are boring, I’m not good enough: I can come up with reasons why it’s difficult all day, or I can sit down and write, polishing my skills every day, writing and writing until one day there aren’t so many writers in my league, my ideas aren’t so boring, and maybe I am good enough. Unless I try, those doubts will be the only accomplishment I can claim.

So go ahead, build a railroad or abscond a house in Beverly Hills by convincing the contractor that the house is being built wrong and they need to eliminate all the right angles. To be honest though, the railroad is probably easier.

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