I read this quote a lot when it comes to motivation. As someone who was actually named after the famous aviator, it would make sense that my thought processes tend to be very similar to hers. While this is a good quote as such, people really need to read the entirety of it.
As reads on BrainyQuote:
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
Most of this quote is straightforward, but there is one phrase that particularly stands out. What are “paper tigers,” you ask? Wikipedia has an article on the subject of what a “paper tiger” means. Essentially, it is something that appears threatening, but in reality, is not. It’s a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu. Being made of paper, it won’t withstand real challenge.
What sort of paper tigers do you face in your day to day life? You can’t let fears get the best of you, even as much as you may rationalize them at times. Think through why you have certain fears. For example, say that you have a fear of heights. As long as you practice safety, that fear is a paper tiger, right? That fear of heights could prevent you from doing a lot of things, especially flying…
I’ve always wanted to fly, and perhaps it is in part to my Christian name. After all, the name Amelia is derived from an old Germanic word meaning work. I just want to work at something all of the time. But yeah, I’ve collected quite a few paper tigers over time.
My paper tigers? It’s the fear that what I do will never be enough. It’s the fear that the words I write won’t resonate in the way I might expect them to. It’s the worry that I will make decisions that will be financially disastrous in the hopes that they will pay off… eventually. All of these paper tigers have held me back, and these are paper tigers that I know other writers and artists keep staring at day after day.
Fortunately, I do keep deciding to act, pouring out all the words I can as they will come. I have never given up on getting my words out there. But my tenacity has often wavered in the face of these paper tigers. Fortunately, as Amelia said, “You can do anything you decide to do.” You just have to find a way to challenge those paper tigers and blow them away. The process of defeating them and taking control of your own life, as she says, is its own reward.
What paper tigers are staring you down right now? Things have a way of looking bleak and unable to be overcome at times, but there is always a way out, even if it’s not obvious. But the first step has to be to recognize the real impediments to your success, and how to overcome them, and those that are simply paper tigers.
You can read lots more Amelia Earhart quotes here. A lot of these I’ll likely write about in the future.