By Evelin Edel
In Leonardo da Vinci’s own words ”Obstacles cannot stop me; determination brings down any obstacle.”, he means that every goal can be fulfilled if you put your mind to it. My interpretation of Da Vinci’s quote is that he suggests that even when people say, ’’your goal is unrealistic’’ or ’’you will just get hurt’’, you can ignore them as long as your determination remains strong. People who doubt ability cannot hinder a determined person. Although Da Vinci was a famous painter, and he was referring to difficulties in painting, his words apply to many trying situations like wanting to get a job, avoiding alcohol, or sticking to a sports plan. Da Vinci implies that to reach a goal one has set for oneself; it is not as important to be in a good physical state as it is to be determined. If you have determination, you are going to reach your goal, even if there will be obstacles or people who try to stop you.
I acknowledge Da Vinci’s view and would go as far as saying that determination begins in your mind. To reach a goal, you have to be in the right state of mind. Therefore, you need to burn your goal into your mind. If I want to swim a new personal record in the 1500 m freestyle, it is one thing to have enough muscle mass to drag myself through the water, but it is a whole other thing to have the mental strength to torture myself through almost 17 minutes of racing. I visualize every single detail of my race before I jump into the water. By doing so, I know that I am mentally prepared and strong enough to set a new personal record. I think about my start, my turns, and my stroke count for 17 minutes straight. During his time, nothing else matters. I cannot allow myself to be distracted from the cheering crowd or the girls who swim in the lanes next to me. I only focus on myself and my race. This is the only way to feel good while racing and to set a personal record. Determination is the key aspect you need to have to reach any goal.
Having just argued that determination is the only way to reach your goal, let us now turn our attention to what happens if you do not feel a strong desire to reach it. Being tired mentally and physically is normal. It is human to feel weak sometimes, and it happens to each one of us. By claiming this, I say that feeling weak is an obstacle that is going to show up in the process of chasing your goal. There are many obstacles in my process of preparing for a competition. One time, I do not feel motivated to drag myself through the water. The other time, I do not want to swim fast at a competition because I feel exhausted. Although I am in good physical shape, I unconsciously tell myself that I will not swim a personal best time. My mind is an obstacle for me at this moment. If my mind and determination are not present, I am unfocused, and I will not be swimming a personal record. My mind is blocking me. This is an obstacle that is not going to disappear because I am not determined enough to bypass it.
The upshot of all this is that Leonardo da Vinci’s quote is timeless, and the plain truth. Obstacles, mental and physical ones, will stop you on your way to reaching your goal if you do not burn for it. Your physique is not important to chase a goal. Mental stability and determination are the key aspects to reaching a goal; they bring down any obstacle. I am convinced of this because my own experience in competitive swimming has proven it to me. My physique does not matter if I want to swim a personal best time. I need to be determined and tell myself that I will swim the best.