My Dad is stubborn as Hell, so I assume this comes from him. I have learned to have a clear sense of inevitability when I decide to pursue something. I feel it is inevitable that because I have set my mind to this task, I will accomplish it. Have I always been successful? No, of course not. No one is 100% successful at everything they do. But here is the key….I never quit. I kept getting up, dusting off, and coming back for more. Until there is no part of the ship still visible above water, I am still trying to steer it to safety. Only then do I acquiesce. And then I find another pursuit.
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
When I look back on my racquetball career, there were wins sprinkled in among many losses and many shortfalls. It was a hard journey. I remember times sitting in a court all by myself, tears in my eyes, thinking that it was over, that I couldn’t play this game anymore. This happened more than once, and at several levels of ability. First, I thought I wasn’t improving fast enough. Next, it was because I couldn’t beat certain players, and I allowed myself to treat them as real roadblocks in my progress. Then it became that I topped out, couldn’t get any better.
I was wrong in every case.
The reality is, I was improving at exactly the right pace. Too much too soon would have been worse for me in the long run than the tough losses I was experiencing. I needed more time to prepare physically and mentally to be ready for the next level of competition. Then, I needed to expand my game to beat certain players that had my number. I had to change, adapt, and overcome. This made me more well-rounded, a more complete player that made it tougher for others to beat me. It was necessary, even though at the time I just thought I was falling short. When I turned Pro, and spent a whole season getting my ass kicked by guys way better than me. I thought I had maxed out. I thought I had reached my capacity and that #70 was as good as I was going to get. But I recruited some help from a former #1 player, swallowed my pride, took two steps back and rebuilt myself. If you have ever seen the movie Rocky III, its the same thing.
The good news that you can take away from this is, ALL OF IT was under my control, my responsibility to do something about. The option for improvement and change fell on my shoulders; it was no one else’s work to do. I needed to make the changes, to improve. It is the same in life, as this pattern has repeated itself in my business career and my entrepreneurial ventures. It is the same for you; whatever hurdles you are facing, the answer is likely that you need to do better at something to get over that next hurdle. Figure that out, and you are off and running once again.
When I decided (my latest adventure) to become a Public Speaker, I didn’t doubt I could do it. I have had experience at it, been in front of groups of people my whole life as a player, a coach, and a salesman. I want it. I want to be successful at it, and I am willing to do the work to get there. One of the first things I did was pick a walkout song, and visualize myself walking out in front of a huge crows to give a talk. This is the band A Perfect Circle, live from the red Rocks stadium in Colorado. The build up of the first two and a half minutes of the song, the crowd noise, all of it is just perfect in my head to create that scene I envision so vividly in the future.
I am back-filling from this future goal, with the work necessary to get there. As I have said before, start with the clearly defined goal and work backwards. I write nearly every day of the week; I work on talks frequently, even though I do not currently have a tons of opportunities booked. I have some, and more on the way I hope. I am doing the work to be ready when the opportunities arrive. Just like I used to log the training miles when I played racquetball for a living, I am logging the hours of work behind the scenes now to polish, prepare, and pounce when the chance presents itself.
Regardless of your chosen endeavor, learn from my story. I didn’t know these things at that time I was experiencing them. I know this now looking back at it, and am hoping that if you can be aware earlier in your own process, this will be helpful. I can’t do the work for you, but you can learn from the work I did. Step back and look at the big picture once in a while. Take a moment if you need it. But soon you need to bear the burden of the pursuit, and only the hard work gets you where you want to go. Grab your hard hat and your lunch box, clock in and get to work.
Go do it. I wish you luck in your endeavors.