By Cliff Baird
When Napoleon was exiled on an island in the South Atlantic he was not locked up in an iron bar prison. He had a quiet cosy cottage but he could never leave the island. He was, however, allowed to have visitors on rare occasions.
The story is told of a former general who, while he was with Napoleon, observed that the former emperor exhibited a most unusual habit around dusk each evening. Napoleon would walk a well-worn path down from his cottage to the craggy seashore. He would fix his gaze out to sea and his eyes would be riveted through the fog and the evening mist.
His apparent stupor may have been fueled by the intoxicating power of reminiscence. No doubt, his mind would be filled with bygone times of glory. Perhaps his thoughts were often overwhelmed with notions of regret. The eerie, hollow sound of the “what if and if only” would rattle against the backdrop of the darkness and the gloom. Life was passing him by and the awful thing was that he knew it didn’t have to be that way.
One evening during the visit, Napoleon’s diminutive silhouette left the rocks in a frenzy and rushed madly back up the path to the cottage. The visiting general tried to keep pace but arrived some time after Napoleon and found him stomping defiantly, back and forth, in front of a blazing fireplace.
Suddenly Napoleon broke the silence and lunged at a map that was painted above the fireplace and shouted, “If it hadn’t been for this little red dot I would have conquered the world.” Even his imprisonment did not diminish the arrogance that made him refer to the British Isles as “the little red dot”.
Isn’t it interesting how readily we can find “the little red dot” to explain all of our failures and mediocrity? Failure always accompanies those who refuse to learn from circumstances rather than creating a plan and summoning up the courage to overwhelm them.
Confucius said, “To err is human but to blame someone else is more human.” Santayana said, “Those who refuse to learn from their history will be condemned to repeat it.”
In order for each of us to fulfill the potential of our destiny we must be willing to be held accountable. There may be reasons but there are no excuses. You are in the right place at the right time and influenced with the appropriate circumstances. This is your moment. Don’t slacken your pace. This is the year of your significant breakthrough. No excuses. If you don’t make it, it will be your fault.