In the next few pages, I am going to try and help you understand how incredibly amazing you are! Most of us don’t even realize how insanely talented and amazing we can be and so we wade through life wondering what it would be like to be something special. We crave success, in some shape or form, whether that is respect from our peers, love from our family and friends, or simply monetary achievement. We seek a validation and understanding from the world around us so intensely that we would do just about anything within our moral character to make it come to fruition. Ironically, it is this same longing that holds us back from really reaching our goals and achieving our dreams. The lofty achievements that we hold in our hearts often seems so out of reach that we latch on to the simple image of accomplishment that we have come to know as ourselves. Our “image,” or how we think others perceive us holds a solid place of importance in our mind, enough so that we would rather preserve an existence that we are seldom pleased or totally proud of, than risk failure in the pursuit of our true calling. In no way am I diminishing any of your accomplishments, but ego is a dream killer! The sooner we understand that, the sooner we can let fall away the false pretenses stacked up around us moonlighting as practicality. Ego and fear are what lead us away from our own personal success, but a deeper understanding of how success is achieved is the key to overcoming these two mental obstacles.
So what is success? What does it take to pursue and accomplish one’s dreams and why is it so damn hard to make it happen? Keep in mind, one person’s success can and often does look much different than another’s. I am not speaking strictly in terms of financial gain, or what society perceives as success. For example, since I was old enough to know what work was, I have always dreamed of someday making my passions, the things I day dream about, into my profession. To me, that is ultimate success; to wake up excited to get out of bed and go do whatever it is you need to do to put a roof over your head and food on the table. It is a life spent doing what you love with the freedom to spend as much time as you please with those you care about, not trading your life for a paycheck so that you may keep on living, or going through the motions. There must be something more than just merely surviving, a larger purpose than just yourself. So obviously, this can be any vocation and can earn any range of income, but by the time you find that path, the money will matter very little and time will take its place as the most valuable resource you have. Now, what is your idea of success and what does it look like? It doesn’t matter how crazy, or far fetched your dreams may seem, when thinking of your ultimate success, do it as if you are 6 years old on the playground. When we were children, we didn’t understand practicality and the world around us hadn’t yet been able to dim our flame. Our dreams were not governed by what we thought was realistic, they were pure of heart and brought us great joy, even just to think about!
So now that you have this ridiculous (its not ridiculous, but it seems that way at this stage) image of how you wish your life could be, its time to freak out! No, I’m kidding, but it can be overwhelming when we think of asking the universe for the stars. The thought of actually reaching them is almost laughable, but I promise you that once you understand more about success, that laughter covering your self doubt will turn to a smirk concealing utter excitement. Success is not something that happens over night, or all at once. It isn’t something that happens to special people, or people that were given a silver spoon at birth. Individuals are not born with success and talent is no guarantee of achievement. Oprah wasn’t born with the blueprint to building one of the most profitable media empires in the world, but we assume she did. Actually, she struggled early in her career and was even fired for being, “unfit for TV.” Henry Ford is an example of American Enterprise, the American Dream, but he did not find success until he was 45 years old. He tried, failed and found himself broke and bankrupt five times before achieving greatness. If you study the numerous examples of success in our society throughout history, you will find a common theme between all of those associated with the word. They all excelled in different ways, but they all shared an attitude of perseverance fueled by an undying faith in themselves. When the world looked at them and said, “you can’t,” they calmly answered, “you’re wrong.”
That isn’t to say that they knew exactly what it meant to make their dreams come true, or already wrote the business plan to their life changing company, but they did know that they wouldn’t stop until they figured it out. No one starts out this life capable of the incredible, well very few do and even they practice endlessly. Many of us look at the uber successful and think that we could not possibly achieve something comparable. In your current state, experience and knowledge, you are correct, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible eventually. Success isn’t about finding the blue print to the perfect company, its more about learning how to run it, manage it and put all the plans into practice. To clarify, accomplished businessmen can have their fortunes stripped completely and in a relatively short amount of time, amass an equal or greater fortune. The business itself is not what separates the have’s and have not’s, its their mind. The experience and knowledge gained by chasing a dream is the key. The beginning of success is just a desire. That desire begins to fuel a vision and that vision pulls you with inspiration to do the work and invest the time. You see, success is much less about being amazingly brilliant in moments and much more about being somewhat clever on a consistent basis. Walt Disney didn’t begin his career with a sure image of Disney Land in his mind. He simply started as an editor of a newspaper. He was eventually fired for “not having any imagination and no good ideas,” but he kept chasing his dreams. In the process he started multiple businesses and failed multiple times and was chastised after each one. The lessons he learned from those mistakes, however, are what eventually allowed him to create a multi billion dollar conglomerate recognized world wide. If he had ever lost faith in himself and stopped trying, he never would have become the man capable of running such an enterprise.
I could continue with endless examples of people who tried, failed and persisted to accomplishment, but the point is that those who kept trying, eventually get to where they want to go. If they ever once allowed their ego to rule their choices, or fear to affect their direction, every single name brand company you know wouldn’t exist. Now ask yourself, “is there something they have that I don’t?” The answer is no! The special something they posses is earned, there is absolutely no other way to come by it. The rare quality, that elusive spark, the X factor, they are all the same thing and they are all forged in the fire of effort and determination, failure and resilience. Those “special” people were simply brave enough to allow themselves to be bad at something long enough in order to enable them to be great. Once we figure out what we want, the only person in the entire world capable of stopping us from reaching our goal is us. No one can physically stop you from improving yourself to the point that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. There will be obstacles and at times, life will feel like it is actively trying to push you back to where you came from, but it is in those moments where is it the most important to put your head down and charge forward. It is the moments in which we want to quit that our future is held in limbo. Quit and relent to a future you are all too familiar with, or push on to your own personal greatness. Your ability to maintain your course is the only difference between where you are and where you want to be. Rid yourself of distractions, be honest with yourself about what you can take on at one time and simply start by completing one small task after another.
When we decide to improve our life, we must make changes in our day to day. There will be people in your life that are affected by these changes and more often than not, they will be negative. Their negativity is an attempt to hold you back. They may not be conscious of why they are doing it, but none the less, they will feel you attempting to better yourself and that they will be left behind. The negativity isn’t coming from a malicious place, rather it comes from insecurity. It is human nature. We want our peers to do well, but not better than us. Instead of recognizing the positive change and seeing it as an opportunity to also improve themselves, they see it as an assault on them. Simply put, your improvement and willingness to change highlights their stagnation. None of us like seeing our faults or shortcomings, but humility allows some of us to see the effort in another with respect, instead of resentment. Be gracious to these people. Sometimes, instead of losing a friend, we can gain a business partner if approached the right way and that benefits everyone involved. Bottom line is that you cannot allow someone unwilling to grow, make you feel bad for trying to improve your life. That would be like a pro athlete feeling bad because the fat guy in the stands says he sucks. A great analogy of this phenomenon was mentioned to me recently by a good friend. When we are babies, learning to walk, we try to get up and stumble. At no point do we look around and worry about looking silly. The pursuit of learning to walk is never discarded to save face. That is, however, essentially what we do when we get older. We learn a sense of self and ego and in an attempt to preserve this image, we give up the chance to walk for a permanent place on the carpet, crawling around!
Find your passion, the things that excite you and chase them, one step at a time. When your passions align with your ambitions, you will no longer have to fight yourself to do the small things, the important things. Only then can you be really with whatever you are after and only then can you become a master of your desired skill, or discipline. Probably the most difficult part of this journey is the very beginning, because we are not tested and we have not proven to ourselves that we can. Its funny though, the only way to improve is to try. Literally the one thing we are afraid to do, take action, is the very thing we must do in order to progress towards the future we want. It is with this understanding, though, that we find the confidence to push into the unknown. Take comfort in the fact that you don’t know how yet. Let the realization that everyone starts from the same place give you courage. Finally, cherish the truth that no one is perfect and you don’t have to be; you just have to start trying. Try, fail, rise up and try again. Only through this stubborn, arduous process can you become the person you are meant to be so that you can achieve what we all seek, respect, validation, acceptance and our very own version of success. Again, you are amazing and you are capable of literally anything you want, you just have to believe in yourself so strongly that the whole world could tell you that you can’t and you will confidently respond with, “you’re wrong.”