After the American Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant – also known as simply General Grant – and fellow Union leader William Sherman were two of the most respected men in the nation. What is interesting is how differently each of these men handled their notoriety. Sherman was happy to retire to New York in what appeared to be happiness and contentment. 

General Grant had high aspirations to become President of the United States. He had never had a real interest in politics and really didn’t know how to play the game in Washington DC, but he won his election in a landslide and presided over one of the most corrupt and least effective administrations in our nation’s history. General Grant was an incredible man who was not cut out for the dirty world of Washington and left that office as a controversial figure. He died at age sixty-three struggling to finish writing his memoirs so he might leave his family with some income to live on.

General Grant or William Sherman?

Which man’s example do you think you’d follow? Would you happily disappear into retirement after your successes like Sherman did? Or would you want to capitalize on your popularity and fame and go after more?  

If I’m honest, I think I’d follow Grant’s example. That’s how it seems to go for most of us: we’re never happy with what we have, we want what others have too. We want to have more than everyone else. 

We start out on our journey knowing exactly what we want but once we’ve achieved it, we lose sight of our priorities and then want more. 

I like the wisdom Jesus gives in Matthew: 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

Matthew 6:19-21
General Ulysses S. Grant. Image credit

Finding your own path

In other words, it’s not about beating the other guy. It’s not about having more than others. It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it. 

You need to know what you don’t want and what your choices preclude. So why do you do what you do? That is the question you need to answer. Once that is cleared up you can say no and opt-out of the stupid tangents that don’t matter. Then it becomes very simple to ignore “successful” people because most of the time they aren’t successful in comparison relative to you. 

Find out why you’re pursuing what you are after. Ignore those who mess with your pace. Let others desire what you have and not the other way around. This is independence. 

What are your dreams of independence? Tell me in the comments. 

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