When Moshe Rabbeinu asked the Jewish people for donations towards the Mishkan, he made two different requests for who should come forward: the "n'div leebo" (the person whose heart motivates him) [Shemos 35:5] who should donate the necessary materials; and the "chacham lev" (wise-hearted person) [Shemos 35:10] who would volunteer his craftsmanship. However, when recounting who actually came to donate and construct the Mishkan the Torah says both, the "nadva rucho" (whose soul motivated him) and the "nasa'o lebo" (a person whose heart inspired him) came [Shemos 35:21]. The "nadav lebo" were the people who donated money, as Moshe had asked. However, we do not find that any "chacham lev" came; rather the "nasa'o leebo" came in its place. How can this be understood? Ramban explains that the Jewish people had no training in how to construct the Mishkan. They had been slaves for many years and never worked with any fine gold or silver nor any carpentry or weaving. Essentially, there were no "wise-hearted" i.e. professionally-trained people to come. What the Torah is teaching us, is there was a different type of "wise-hearted" person who came. The inspired man, that perceived in his own nature that he could perform these skilled crafts, came forward. Even though they were not sure exactly what this job would entail, their hearts inspired them to volunteer to perform any job that was asked of them. Rabbi Yissochar Frand, shlit"a, expounds on this further, explaining that
most of these people did not know the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver, yet the Ramban says that somehow these people found within their nature to do what they were called upon to do. That is all it took to accomplish what needed to be accomplished. More than skill, a person needs ambition. This Ramban is teaching us that the greatest key to success is not necessarily the training; it is the ambition and initiative to do something.
This idea is conveyed bythe Mirrer Mashgiach, Harav Yerucham Levovitz, zt"l, who notes there is a common denominator found in most people who became wealthy: the desire and motivation to succeed even in situations where others have failed. A person who is afraid to take risks for potential leaps will inevitably remain in the position he is currently in.
Reb Yerucham continues, we find this concept in the Medrash [Devarim Rabbah 5:2] that Shlomo Ha'melech advised a lazy person to observe the ants, to become wise [Mishlei 6:6]. Which lesson should he eternalize? The average lifespan of an ant is approximately six months, in which during that time the average ant consumes a kernel and a half of wheat. Yet, the ant works nonstop, amassing as much food as he possibly can, much more than it will eat over the course of its short lifetime. Why do they work so hard? "Perhaps Hashem will grant me a longer than average life and I will have food to eat." The Medrash continues, so too, a lazy person should work in this world and dedicate his life to living a life full of Torah and mitzvos, so he will have what 'to eat' in the Next World. Shlomo Ha'melech, the wisest of all men, is teaching us to learn from the ant, and don't be complacent and limit yourself. A person should always strive to maximize his or her potential for perhaps the opportunity will present itself.
We see the Torah refers to someone with these lofty ambitions as a "wise man." It is common to think that a person with "crazy" ideas is not making an honest assessment of their own talents. Yet, as waspointed out, if one observes who is generally successful, it is the person who is not afraid of trying and potentially failing. We hear many stories how the successful person is the one who along the way was discouraged by others, yet he remained steadfast to his goals and did not lose his determination to keep on trying nevertheless. A perfect example of someone in our generation who overcame obstacles and reached true greatness was the beloved late Mirrer Rosh Hayeshiva, Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt"l. He was a person who did not have the advanced yeshiva background as many of his peers, yet through a tremendous amount of work, he pushed and persevered, eventually becoming the great Rosh Hayeshiva of the biggest yeshiva in the world. What is even more amazing is many of his accomplishments occurred while he battled a severe physical illness.
Harav Shlomo Wolbe, zt"l, writes, a person must know a most fascinating reality; whatever a person truly desires, he will accomplish during his lifetime. So too, whatever a person did accomplish during his lifetime is a glimpse of what his true desires were (Alei Shur 1: pg. 121). We all have goals of what we want to accomplish in our personal service of Hashem. It should be motivating just having the realization that these goals are attainable, as long as we truly want them. Let us attempt to be like our predecessors and not sell ourselves short, by motivating ourselves to really accomplish!