How to Keep Fighting and Pressing Forward When the Going Gets Tough

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A lot of people like to think that there is some secret formula to achieving extraordinary levels of success and breaking free from mediocrity, but there really isn’t.

The one and only secret to crushing your goals and experiencing the success that you always dreamed of is to take relentless, persistent and massive action every single day of your life. Every peak performer knows the importance of this truth. The reason why the majority neglect it is because of the ridiculous amount of work required of them. What’s more, there is absolutely nothing exciting and sexy about that workload.

Persistence may not always be the “fun” thing to do, but it always will be the right thing to do when you are in pursuit of greatness, when you’re looking to maximize business success or achieve a game-changing goal. Being persistent requires you to get out of your comfort zone most of the time and force yourself to take action, even when you may not feel like it.

The following icons certainly understood this:

  • Henry Ford massively failed and went broke five times before he finally got his major breakthrough.
  • Beethoven was ridiculed for how he handled the violin, and his teacher told him that he was hopeless as a composer.
  • Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor for an alleged lack of ideas. He also went bankrupt multiple times before he built Disneyland.
  • Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching.” Wrote Darwin in his autobiography: “I was considered by my father a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect.”

More such stories? Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and didn’t read until he was 7. His teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” He was eventually expelled and refused admittance to Zurich Polytechnic School. The University of Bern declined his Ph.D. dissertation as irrelevant and fanciful.

The script for Star Wars was rejected by every movie studio in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox finally produced it. It went on to be one of the largest grossing movies in film history.

When former University of Georgia and NFL running back Herschel Walker wanted to play football in junior high, but the coach told him he was too small and recommended track instead. Never one to quit, Walker ignored the coach’s advice and began an intensive training program to build himself up. Only a few years later, he won the prestigious Heisman trophy.

These are just a few examples of all the wildly successful people who failed before succeeding to such heights that they could rewrite the history books. Remember, we all fail at one time or another. That’s life. And no matter whether our failures are large or small, we have to persist and keep fighting. We’re all a “work in progress.” Even the geniuses.

Here are two actionable ideas to help you keep fighting and pressing forward when the going gets tough.

1. Study the greats. 

I am an avid reader. I read a new book every single week, but one of my favorite types of books is autobiographies. I enjoy reading about the incredibly successful who went on to change the world with how they lived their lives.

When you pick up an autobiography of one of the greats, you quickly realize the amount of persistence and fight they possesed, even in the face of extreme uncertainty and hardship. When I find myself going through a difficult time, one of the first things I do is pick up an autobiography of a world-class achiever.

Reading that individual’s story reminds me of the power of never giving up, and passionately always fighting for what you believe in and desire. The next time you find yourself going through a difficult period in your life, pick up an autobiography, watch a documentary or find some way to study the greats. Success leaves clues.

2. Never lose sight of your major goals. 

One of the first things that happens when people gets knocked down and come face to face with adversity is that they lose sight of the original goal or vision.

Instead, these individuals let the negativity they are currently experiencing come to the forefront of their minds, which prevents them from taking action and moving forward. I myself carry a notecard with me everywhere I go that has all of my major goals written on it. When I get knocked down, experience a negative curveball thrown my way or just lack the inspiration to keep fighting, I look over this notecard and am immediately connected to the grand vision I have that keeps me going.

Do the same thing: Put your major goals into your phone, on the front of your computer screen and in your purse or wallet. All throughout the day, especially when the going gets tough, read over those major goals and remind yourself of the great vision that you have for your life. When you make it a priority to never lose sight of your major goals, there is nothing that can permanently hold you back.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

What You Need to Do Next Time You Stumble

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As entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders, we repeatedly find ourselves faced with failure and adversity; it comes with the territory. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to recognize its rewards. We go through it instead of grow through it.

In her bestselling book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck breaks down what separates the high achievers from everyone else. One of the main differentiators is in how they view failure. Successful types are able to look at stumbling blocks and learn from it. Others — or to use her language, those with a “fixed mindset” — fail to look for ways to grow and ultimately hate to be challenged.

As a leader, you’ve (quite admirably) increased your chances of failing miserably. Sometimes you’ll see it coming; sometimes you won’t. In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”

That’s why consistently training yourself to deal with failure is important. It’s called creating a growth plan and there is no right or wrong way to do it. My growth plan consists of looking at my goals each and every day to remind me of what I am working towards, reading uplifting books first thing in the morning, listening to audiobooks in the car or on flights and having a group of similarly ambitious people who share the same hunger to make a difference and achieve big goals.

Also remember to ask yourself this simple question: “How can I grow through this setback?” It’s not an easy thing to do, especially after having been knocked down, but it’s the first and most important step to carving a path to the future. Before letting your mind race and drawing conclusions about what’s going to happen next, take the time to ask it.

Your future self will thank you.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com

Will You Be Stubborn and Break, or Adaptable and Succeed?

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People often experience an inability to adapt, and instead will come to the conclusion that they will always fail and may as well stop trying altogether. They will settle for where they are and become stagnant in life — never moving forward, and may even move backwards.

Take Jack for example. He was a young man in Ohio who wanted to play music professionally. All through high school, he played the guitar and wrote songs. His teachers, friends and family loved his music and told him he was very talented. Finally, he entered a talent contest and came in third. It depressed him so much that he decided to quit music and go to college to obtain a business degree.

This was what his father wanted all along, and the young man just surrendered his dream. He gave up. He let this tiny failure derail him. Instead of recognizing that it was a major accomplishment to win third place, and that if he applied himself and continued to hone his craft he could actually win the contest the next year, he just gave up. That young man will more than likely go to his grave with many, many regrets.

Jack was not in a “variable” state. He was rigid and negative. It’s essential for the health of complex systems, and Jack, like you, are a complex physiological system. If you’re “variable,” then you’re going to see your failure as an opportunity — as a gift to unwrap and use for success.

I remember once talking to a taxi driver in Los Angeles. He explained that when the city experienced earthquakes, the super highways would actually bend and curve with the wind and rolling grounds. I thought this was strange and tried to imagine how solid objects could be fluid.

But when you think about it, everything is made up of atoms and atoms are movable. After some research, I discovered that when architects design bridges, buildings and highways in California and other parts of the world, they create designs with the right amount of variability so the buildings and roads will bend with the earthquakes or with high winds.

Too much variability or flexibility and the roads and buildings will be unstable and crumble. Too little variability and the buildings and roads will be too rigid and brittle and the first serious earthquake will destroy it.

The same is true in sports or business, and really in all of life. If a business leader, teacher or coach is stubborn and refuses to make changes despite evidence that what they’re doing is not successful, then their efforts will eventually end in failure. If an athletic coach never changes the way he designs plays, then the opponents will quickly learn the team’s game and conquer them.

The coach, the leader and you must know how to attain a state of variability. If Jack had been able to attain this variability, he would have more than likely gone on to win music contests and eventually obtain a recording contract. We’ll never know.

Keep this in mind: Variability is not only important in sports and business, but in all areas of life. When you fail in life at whatever it is you’re trying to do, you have to demonstrate flexibility and stick to it to help you achieve the success you desire.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Everything That Happens in Your Life Is a Gift — Even Failure

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Many people call it the “F-word.” No, I’m not talking about “fun” or that egregious four-letter word that’s so prominent in today’s culture. I’m talking about failure — Big, Fat Failure. And you know what? It’s a gift. A Big, Fat Gift. Everything that happens in your life is a gift. Even that big event that starts with an F.

Here’s what one highly successful woman had to say about the “F-word:”

“Eventually, we all must come to a decision, for ourselves, about what represents failure. However, the world is very keen to put failure on a schedule, and give you a set of decisive factors, if you allow it. A meager seven years following my graduation, failure had hit me on a grand scale. A fleeting marriage was dissolved, I had no job, [I was] a single parent and as destitute as anyone could possibly be without living on the streets. My parents’ fears for me, and those I had for myself, had finally transpired, and according to the book of failure, I was the biggest.”

The above paragraph is a summation of a speech given by J.K. Rowling at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

The whole purpose of using J.K. Rowling as an example about the importance of failure is to emphasize the point that failure is not unusual. In fact, it is very ordinary and has been misunderstood throughout time.

First, understand that success means something different to different people. However, there is something everyone has in common who has succeeded at what they set out to do: They have failed at one time or another. There is no way to live life without failing from time to time. The only way you won’t fail is if you live so guardedly that you are barely living at all, wherein, you fail by default.

Failure drives us to change. Without it, where would we be today? Thomas Edison produced tons of light bulbs that did not work. If he had not tried again and again, we’d still be using oil lamps and candles for lights.

Winston Churchill once stated, “Success is based on going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Of course, some individuals are sardonic. These types of people never pick themselves up from failure because they did not grow. Failure courses through everyone’s lives. The SBA states that more than half of small businesses fail during their first five years. However, failed entrepreneurial pursuits are as vital as successful ones.

One specific industry that thrives on failure is technology. There’s hardly anyone over the age of 25 who is not familiar with the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. He was the perfect example of someone who found the “gift” in failure. In his first attempt at a mobile gadget, it failed. It failed badly and he was thrown out of the company. Nonetheless, he has one of the greatest comeback stories of all time.

In your world, what represents failure? Ask yourself that question and really take some time to answer truthfully. Just as Rowling said, we all must come to the decision about what failure and adversity represents in our lives. Our answers to that very important question greatly determines our levels of achievement and what’s in store for us in the future.

The greats, the champions, the best to ever do it view failure and adversity as their friend and something to help them grow and ignite their creativity and desire to be the absolute best.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com