I still listen to Illmatic, a stunning musical achievement by Nas, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and Large Professor, after first hearing it over 10 years ago.Â Few people can say that they created one of the seminal works in their field at the age of 20. However, such an accomplishment can be both a blessing and a curse. What do you do when according to many, you hit your creative and professional peak at the beginning of your career?Â Michael Jackson recorded â€œThrillerâ€ when he was 24, and spent the rest of his career trying to top it. Zeniths in life are not just a result of perfect ingredients, but perfect timing as well. There will never be another â€œThrillerâ€ and there will never be another â€œIllmatic,â€ because both are products of their time period.
Peaks happen in other areas of our lives as well.Â Personally, I am on the down slope of a zenith that has made dating very difficult. I met my first real love when I was 17, got engaged when I was 21, and watched it all fall apart by my 25th birthday. What happens to us when we reach a pinnacle early in our lives? Much like the Uncle Rico character in â€œNapoleon Dynamite,â€ some people are unable to move on, and spend the rest of their lives trying to return to that place.Â They become stagnant. They date the same kinds of people over and over again, people who have some of the same qualities as the ones they lost, and some of the same dealbreakers. They resist anything new, uncertain. Their creativity atrophies because they are unwilling to try things unless they know they will experience success.
It helps to remember that when you first started out on your path to the “peak,”Â you probably were not very good. You didn’t realize this because you were so passionate about your craft/sport/relationship/etc., that you wanted to keep trying, or maybe you did, and you just didn’t care. Failing at something you cared about was better than not trying at all.
Instead of holding on to past triumphs, use them as reminders of what is possible when you combine intention with belief and passion. Intent on accomplishing your goal,Â belief that it will happen, and a passion that makes the work intrinsically rewarding.Â It may not happen the way you want it to, and thereâ€™s the catch. But you can trust that it will happen the way itâ€™s suppose to.