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Positively Speaking: Victories can be deceiving


By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of man named Toby Moore
Toby Moore

Many of us have dreams and aspirations. The path toward these goals can often bring us into a fierce struggle.

After much hard work, you may finally get a victory! Be careful when you do; when the triumph is big enough, it can be misinterpreted that you’ve made it and the struggle is over.

Sometimes victories are deceiving, and if you ever think you’ve finally made it: Beware! It’s a dangerous place to be. More often than not, the victory is just the beginning.

In my earlier days as an actor, I had no other interests but acting. I auditioned several times a week, attended acting classes, worked nights at a restaurant, and was obsessed with booking an acting job.

One day after years of hard work, I landed the lead role in a Showtime movie called “A Separate Peace,” based on the famous American novel by John Knowles. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman and another future Academy Award winner Michael Sugar were producers on the project.

I felt as if I had won the lottery! But I quickly realized that this single victory, while significant, wasn’t the end-all. There were still months, even years, of intermittent work to be done if I was to accomplish my goals. Had I erred somehow? Was I lacking in my craft? No, the reviews said otherwise. So why wasn’t I instantly propelled into my dream career?

Simply put, it was just the beginning.

One tale that often comes to my mind when reflecting on my journey is the story of the ancient Israelites. Whether this narrative is a historical fact or an allegorical tale, the lessons it imparts remain powerfully relevant.

In the story, millions of Jewish enslaved people were set free from slavery in Egypt under the command of Moses. Soon after being set free, the pharaoh changed his mind and began pursuing the Israelites with his army. The Israelites found themselves cornered, seemingly doomed, between the mountains and the Red Sea.

Then, a miracle — the sea parted, and they crossed safely to the other side just before the walls of water came crashing in, destroying the pharaoh and his army.

On the shore, the Israelites threw a party. They thought their struggles were over. But nothing could be further from the truth. The next day, they trudged into the desert, their dream destination hundreds of miles away. There was no food and no water. Their enthusiasm faded into despair while they contemplated returning to slavery in Egypt.

Their victory by the Red Sea seemed a distant memory, eclipsed by the harsh reality of their predicament.

Have you experienced a significant win, only to soon find yourself in your metaphorical desert? I certainly have. It’s easy in such moments to be overcome by negativity, to feel as if your victories were meaningless, or to fear you’ve deviated off course.

Cast aside these thoughts. This is a critical moment that can make or break you.

Let’s learn a lesson from Elon Musk.

Musk achieved a significant win when he sold PayPal, his second prominent startup, to eBay in 2002. He was the largest shareholder, with 11.72% of the shares, receiving $175.8 million. With this success, one might think his path to further victories would be smooth. However, the subsequent years were anything but easy for Musk.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to reduce the cost of space travel and make it possible for humans to live on other planets. However, the company’s first three rocket launches failed, causing a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. By 2008, Space X was on the verge of collapse.

“The first three launches failed. Fortunately, the fourth launch … the fourth launch worked, or that would have been it for SpaceX…” Musk later admitted.

At some point, when Musk found himself in his own personal desert of doubt, he might have wondered, “Have I taken on more than I can handle? Was my dream too audacious, too far out of reach?”

But through resilience and perseverance, he navigated these challenges and came out on the other side with even more significant successes.

When you find yourself with your first big win, remember: The journey is far from finished; it might just be getting started.

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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