There once was a young, aspiring fencer
who had an opportunity to bout
before a renowned maestro
. Giving his fencing
his most heartfelt
effort for over an hour, the young man paused at last for the master's
"Well, how was I?" he implored. "Was I good?"
If the young man was given the encouragement he desired, he would dedicate
his life to fencing. In time, he hoped to become a national champion,
maybe even an Olympic competitor. After that, he
would strive to become a fencing master.
The old man, who had sat quietly and impassively during the fencing,
looked squarely at the young swordsman and said, "You lack the fire."
The young man was crestfallen. He rushed away, sold his equipment
and immediately found employment with a large corporation. He forgot
Years later, the would-be champion, now the president of his own successful
company, ran into the old master at a society function.
"You changed my life," the businessman told him. "I was crushed
when you told me I'd never make it as a fencer, but I finally accepted
it. Today, because of what you said to me, I'm a man of business
instead of a man of the sword. But tell me, how could you tell so
easily that I lacked the fire?"
"Oh, I hardly watched your fencing," the old master explained.
"That's what I say to everyone who fences for me--that they lack the fire."
The businessman staggered back, barely able to comprehend what he'd
just heard. "What? How could you do that to me! Perhaps
I could have been a great champion, a master, another Santelli
or Faulkner or Elthes."
The old man shook his head.
"You don't understand. If you had the fire, really had it, so
that it burned inside you with an unquenchable passion, you would have paid
no attention to what I said to you. You'd have stuck with fencing,
no matter what. You gave up the first time your dream was challenged.
You, young man, answered your own question."
"Oh," said the former fencer.
The secret of success is now before you.
From The Art and Science of Fencing, by Nick Evangelista