Can ‘Tilting at Windmills’ be a good thing?

Tilting at Windmills. The accepted idiom used to describe exercises in futility; battling the overwhelming, imaginary, unnecessary or unimportant; dreaming impossible dreams. ‘Tilting at Windmills’ is said to prove a flawed and pointless approach to life. I say those who ‘Tilt at Windmills’ are often misunderstood.

Don Quixote fighting a windmill on hi...

Don Quixote fighting a windmill on his horse, Rocinante. In the background Sancho Panza next to his donkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother Maria and I share one trait in common. We are perceived as compulsively Tilting At Windmills. We don’t see imaginary foes, but we do fight impossible battles with no expectation of winning. We dream impossible dreams and barely give lip service to the concept of futility. No, we aren’t crazy.

Our willingness to be perceived as ‘Tilting at Windmills’ helps us overcome barriers, objections, delusions, fear and uncertainty. Our Tilting at Windmills approach virtually negates opting for complacency, under-achievement and an unfortunate dependence on keeping things as they are. We know that for every major battle that is lost, myriad smaller battles and skirmishes are won. We Tilt at Windmills to make life better for ourselves and for our families. We want to build a better, safer future for the generations to come and we know that without tilting at a few windmills, we will miss out on opportunities for positive change, and to build and grow better tomorrows.

Battling impossible odds as the norm is humbling experience.

To willingly be seen as ‘Tilting at Windmills’ requires unshakeable belief in oneself, one’s values, one’s intellect, and one’s vision. Somewhere yesterday, someone told a buddy to quit wasting time Tilting at Windmills trying to find a better and easier way to ‘that’. Today that buddy is announcing ‘I just sold an App for that’.  One person’s Impossible is another person’s Possible. One person’s Giant is another person’s Diminutive. One person’s Futile is another person’s Productive. In a world filled with uncertainty, it is hard to accept that we may be wrong or we may be right, but that we will never know which, unequivocally, until we systematically challenge our preconceptions head on by eliminating the word ‘can’t’ from our vocabularies.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much support comes my way, how many kindnesses from strangers are offered me, each time I take another pass at a recalcitrant Windmill. Perhaps this is because deep down, good people want to see the underdog win the day, and they too want to build better tomorrows.

Bring on the Windmills. The benefits outweigh the risks.


One response to “Can ‘Tilting at Windmills’ be a good thing?

  1. You’re so right, Leni. I’ve often felt that what we need to teach the next generation most of all is a willingness to fail, get back up on that horse and keep going. It’s all about getting out of that cosy comfort zone and having a go.


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