When success is concerned, there are very few distinct characteristics that separate the super successful, from everyone else. Whether success is measured in smiles or monetary gain, is irrelevant. In either case, true success, or the ability to live life as you see fit, represents the mastery of certain elements involved in everyday life. If you asked Earl Nightingale what makes someone successful, he would give three factors. You must first have a dream, make a plan, and then follow through. If you then asked him what the most important step is, or the one that is the difference between the “have’s” and “have nots,” I believe he would point to persistence. It is true, a major reason most people do not live how they wish is because they simply never think about what they truly want. However, many of us dream and we all have hope at one time or another. The disconnect between dreams and goals is that one is backed by a plan and the other is simply a wish. When we begin to form a plan, our idea of a wish begins to take form in reality, which is a huge step, but not the most important, because many get to this stage. What truly separates the 97% of the world from the top 3% that have anything and everything, is that those people simple didn’t quit.
This sounds ridiculous, I know. How could it be something so simple? We see those people and assume it has to be something beyond our control. They are special, smarter, stronger, born with it, liars, or anything else that may explain the fact that we are not in the same boat, or in this case, on the same yacht. This explanation allows them to take on supernatural powers or circumstance, while validating the choices we make everyday. This thought process is simply an attempt to maintain our ego and pat ourselves on the back while saying, “its not your fault.” The hard truth, though, is that it is your fault, because we have complete control over our lives and there are no such things as super humans. There are only those whose reasons for fighting on, was stronger than their reasons to quit. Surely, there are gifted people in the world, but even they have to struggle to make it to the top level of anything. Often, talent is a hindrance without the right mindset, but either way, hard work normally trumps talent in any competition. So this means that determination, perseverance, tenacity, ingenuity, creativity and confidence are more important than the gifts you were born with, so toss this thinking out the window and understand this. Once you have chosen a path, all that stands in your way is your willingness to stay the course.
How do we make this happen though? How do we push through when the going gets tough? Where do we find the emotional depth to harvest the perseverance in our soul allowing us to drive ourselves forward, when our mind and body wish to stop and rest? Where does the motivation come from to take us from an “ordinary” individual to an extraordinary master of the world around us? I believe this comes from three things, your reason for beginning, your faith in yourself and your willingness to overcome obstacles. When I was younger, working in a motorcycle shop, I remember sitting at my desk during a break and just longing for the day to be over. I was still in school, but was questioning the entire process at this time. I had a realization that in any job, all that mattered was that your bills were paid, after that, it was a matter of enjoying life. I had a problem with this, though. I didn’t want to have to divide my life between the hours spent making sure I could eat and the few hours where I actually lived. It was at this point that I saw how little money meant. As long as you can pay your bills, money isn’t a big issue. What is the issue is having purpose and fulfillment. If I was spending 70% of my life to to put a roof over my head, then I had only 30% of it to find meaning. I reflected on this and was almost disgusted. If I didn’t love my job, then most of my life would be spent doing something I didn’t care for at all. That was when I decided I better be careful about the career I chose, because I would spend a huge majority of my life doing it. If I was excited to go to work everyday, able to smile when my eyes opened every morning, then how much money I made wouldn’t matter. I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, like everyone, so I thought backwards. How would I truly love spending my days, if money were no object. The answer to this question, for me, wasn’t so much a job title, but a lifestyle.
Once I had my goal in mind, I created a plan that had the potential to get me there and simply started executing. Time began to expose one obstacle we face. We question our choice of direction and wonder if we should turn back. My alternative was simple, a life spent wasting my time. I thought about my habits and the jobs I had when I was younger and was able to realize that, in ten years, these same habits and jobs would bring me sadness and regret. What is the only way to avoid anxiety before a test? Be prepared. Every time I procrastinated, in school, I felt ill and told myself, next time would be different. When I did study, I felt fine and tests were just another class period. Life is no different. The future is not a real place, it is theoretical. The only real moments we have are right now. Our future is just a culmination of our “right nows” over a period of time. If you don’t do something different with your present time, then your future reality will be exactly the same. Changes don’t just happen by chance. We happen. We choose to make a change. If you are unhappy with your present situation, you must be willing to do something different to have a different future. Do something better, to have a better future. If you start chasing your dreams based on lifestyle and passion, instead of simply money, then the doubt of whether you chose the right direction falls away.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have to change your method of getting there, but at least you don’t have to question your purpose. This doubt is a dream killer, but as I said before, what is your alternative? Going back the way you came simply guarantees failure. I see this all the time, people who come to an obstacle and simply go back. Why did you start in the first place? The whole reason you began this journey was for the possibility of a better future, so turning around makes absolutely no sense. It feels safer, but think about it this way. Would you rather struggle for fifteen years, or slowly die inside for eighty? Sounds different that way doesn’t it? Often times, when I get discouraged, I remind myself of the little discomforts I used to feel. The drive to vices and habits that I used to cover up that slight feeling of emptiness. The helpless feeling I had at the mercy of my employer and the hours on the clock face. I think back to the realization that my time is so much more precious than money will ever be. Remembering these things, the reasons I craved a change, and also the type of lifestyle I truly desire, makes the path back from where I came less appealing. You must think about your life and do your best to picture what it would look like twenty years in the future…You may be content now, but will you be happy then? Be honest!
Really, giving up isn’t even an option anymore. Which, if you find a good enough reason to change in the first place, will be the case for you as well. In the last Batman movie, Dark Knight Rises, Bruce is forced to remove his safety line in order to escape a prison and save Gotham. Why did this make a difference? Was it the weight of the rope? No. He knew that he had no safety net, no second chance and failure was not an option at all. I use this pop culture reference because many of us know it, but it shouldn’t cheapen the message. One of the reasons we fail, is because we never give it an honest shot to begin with. We try to make monumental changes while retaining control of our old life. This isn’t possible. I understand practicality, but at some point, you must commit with all of yourself. Only then, is it possible and only then, does the question of whether you can complete the task become irrelevant. If you read any self help book by any successful entrepreneur, business owner, or investor, a common theme will be persistence. Perseverance guarantees your success. If you are unwilling to turn back and commit to savagely battling any obstacle that stands in your way, then nothing will stop you and it is only a matter of time.
“In his all-time classic book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells the story of R. U. Harby. Harby’s uncle had gold fever, so he staked his claim and started digging. After a lot of hard work, the uncle found a vein of ore, so he covered up his find and returned home to raise the money for the machinery that he would need to bring the ore to the surface. They raised the money and Darby travelled with his uncle back to the site to make their fortune. Things started well and before long, they had enough to clear their debts. They were excited, everything from here on would be profit and things were looking good. Then the supply of gold stopped. The vein of ore had disappeared. They kept on digging, but found nothing. After a while, they quit in frustration and sold their machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars. After they went home in disappointment, the astute junk man called in a mining engineer who checked the mine and calculated that there was a vein of gold just three feet from where Darby and his uncle had stopped digging. The junk man went on to make millions from the mine. Darby returned home, paid back everyone who had lent him money and was determined to learn from his mistake in giving up too soon. He went on to become a phenomenally successful insurance salesman, more than recouping what he would have made from the gold mine. He learned the lesson that you need to persevere through difficulties and stay focused if you are to become successful. Whenever you feel like giving up on your dream, remember that you may be just three feet from gold!”
There are many other examples of this type of perseverance illustrated by the repeated rise and fall of business men. They make a fortune, make a mistake, lose everything, and in a small matter of time, they are right back at the top. To help you understand the power of persistence, in a physical sense, perseverance is frightening. As a fighter, an opponent with perseverance and spirit doesn’t have to be good, but no matter what you do, they will keep coming. This understanding would make even the toughest fighters think twice about stepping in the ring with them. How do you beat an opponent that never goes down? How much punishment can you take before you submit? So often are we moments away from success when we face our toughest resistance. This is where 97% of the population turns around. You must commit to being that 3%. Forget your ego and what people will say when you fail, because if you never give up, eventually you will get to smile at them from the pinnacle of accomplishment. No one will question you then, so forget the concern now!
Essentially, success comes down to having a dream, making a plan and sticking to it. We must be stubborn with our cause and flexible in our methods. I used to get excited about something new, do it for a while and then lose steam, as many of us do. I began to get tired of this, starting over, learning a new skill or a new process. Why couldn’t I just love what I was doing, like everyone else? Well, my mistake was that I was choosing my job based on ease, or what it paid, not based on what I truly wanted. This is where you begin, with your heart. Then you must believe you can make it happen, so much so that it borderlines on crazy. This is the commitment you must have to yourself and your dreams, or sadly, you won’t try hard enough to make them happen. You won’t want it bad enough to keep trying when the other 97% has given up. When you lack motivation, picture your future and what it would look like if you succeed and if you give up. Could you live with the latter? Understand how special your time is and what you truly wish to do with your most precious resource. You may love your job, but the lifestyle and time spent away from family may not be worth it. To put this in perspective, remember that some things only happen one. What will you value when you are old, your body has faded, your looks are gone, and all that is left if your mind and the connections you’ve made. Will six figure salaries make you feel whole?
Im beginning to repeat myself, but your guidance is internal, seek it out relentlessly. The reason you began this journey, the reason you want to commit to this journey, and your willingness to learn. These are what help us push through. These are what will allow us to achieve what we want most. Identify these things and never let up, because you can do this…its only a matter of time!