Ambitious projects come with proportionally big challenges. Some are predictable, but any sufficiently large goal will come with utterly unexpected hurdles.
In the Washington Monument’s construction, production continued for six years from 1848-1854, when money ran out. While it appears that political machinations led to the elimination of funding, the underlying truth is that our nation was undergoing its most foundational challenge – one closely tied to George Washington: slavery. It wasn’t until after the formal Reconstruction Era that work began again, and the obelisk was finished between 1879 and 1884.
Whether you are composing a symphony, running a marathon, or graduating from college, there will be significant challenges, both predictable and not, that you will face. The challenge is to be both goal-oriented, with an eye to completing the goal, and flexible, willing to wait when the challenges demand patience.
The Washington Monument has a clear dividing line between the two sections – the quarter century between the two construction times led to a different quarries being used for the granite. It could be argued that it mars the beauty of the object, but to me it’s one of the most important features: the one that lets the struggle of creation shine through.