There is no shortage of disappointment and pain in the world. No shortage of helplessness. No shortage of regret. No shortage of failure.
If you’re feeling down because you got fired yesterday. So what? You didn’t get the promotion. So what? You hate your boss, and your business failed. So what? You never got to graduate from high school. Maybe you didn’t graduate college. So what? You graduated college but aren’t happy in your career? You made it all the way to the C-suite but don’t feel fulfilled. So what? If this is your reality, what are you going to do about it?
You can fall into despair and complain about how miserable life is. I have been there and done that. You can go to work every day and whine about your job, your colleagues or your boss. You can settle for a life and career of mediocrity and spend 40+ hours a week on a job you hate. Lots of people do this.
You can continue to gripe about Mondays and wish your life away rushing to Friday, or you can put in the work – and make the sacrifice – that success demands. That’s the rub though – sacrifice. People don’t just wake up successful. They work for it. They trade for it. They sacrifice for it. Are you willing to do the work and go through the pain necessary to achieve and sustain success?
Here are the four dirty little secrets that you need to know about successful people if you want to become one.
1. Successful people trade one pain for another.
“We must all suffer one of two things in life: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”
Years ago I read this quote by Jim Rohn, and it hit me. I realized that I’d have to struggle and go through some hard stuff in my life and to build my career. I realized that there was no such thing as a pain-free life. Since there would be no way to avoid struggles, I decided to buckle down and stop looking for one. I decided I’d rather suffer the pain of discipline and began my success journey. I suggest you do too.
Contrary to popular belief, successful people don’t get to escape life’s pains. They just trade one pain for another whenever and wherever possible. Successful people trade the pain of regret with the pain of discipline. They trade the pain of stopping with the pain of starting. They trade the pain of failure for the pain of consistency, and they trade the pain of saying yes too often with the pain of saying no in an effort to protect and focus the most limited resource they have – time.
Successful people fear failure just like everyone else, but they don’t let it stop them because they know that regret causes more pain than failure ever will. If you want to be successful, you really can be afraid to fail, but you can‘t be afraid to try.
2. Successful people take risks and lose.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
This quote by Michael Jordan revealed a lot to me about risk and losing. When you run from failure, you inevitably run from success. Successful people put it all on the line. They risk humiliation and embarrassment. They risk disappointing others. They risk it all – including their careers – to achieve their goals.
If you want your career to soar, you must be willing to see it plummet. And though this may cause extreme discomfort and anxiety, success goes hand-in-hand with risk so you need to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. Successful people lean into ambiguity and uncertainty because they know that in order to achieve the greatest heights of success they have to be willing to experience despair.
If you want to be successful, realize that nothing ventured really does mean nothing gained. Successful people have to take risks – financial and career risks and personal and professional ones as well.
3. Successful people want to give up.
“You have to fight for what you want because what you want won’t fight for you!”
Demarjay Smith, Ellen DeGeneres’ favorite kid trainer, hit it on the nose with this quote. It may seem like it will never happen for you. You may feel like you are sinking when you aren’t. The difference between losing and being a loser is giving up. Successful people want to give up sometimes just like everyone else, but they don’t, and you shouldn’t either.
Take it from 12-year-old Demarjay, and fight for what you want. While his goal is to get an education and develop physical strength, that is not the point. Your goal is your goal. Maybe you want to start a business, get a promotion, change careers, become a manager, be a teacher, make it to the C-suite, write a book, become a famous singer, actor, director, etc. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? The message is the same regardless. Successful people get up each and every day and fight for what they want.
If you want to be successful, learn to reach deep for the power that’s within you so you don’t give up. Successful people have breakdowns sometimes, but they muster up everything they have within themselves to ultimately reach a breakthrough. And the breakthrough is amazing! I know from personal experience.
When you get back up after falling, when you fail but still push to succeed, when you cry, but still find a reason to laugh and when you thought you had nothing else to give but you still manage to get up and put one foot in front of the other. That is you showing that you have the power within yourself to make it across the line and not give up.
4. Successful people get rejected.
“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.” – Harvey Mackay
The first thing I think about when I hear the word rejection is that every single syllable hurts. I hate it. I’ve been rejected for so many things that I now just consider it a normal part of the success journey. Still, I hate it. But if the choice is between being rejected or never going for what we want; never asking for what we want; never reaching for our dreams, then rejection it is.
Successful people get rejected, but they don’t let it stop them. They take steps to limit the power that rejection has over them by doing these three things.
- expect to be rejected
- stay true to yourself and
- get away from small-minded people
If you want to be successful, you need to expect rejection. Sometimes people can’t see your value. Sometimes they can’t appreciate your brilliance. They can’t understand your goals. They don’t dream like you do, and this is okay. Surround yourself with people who will support you. Instead of trying to persuade small-minded people, I recommend you build a different support system and connect with new friends who will believe in you and cheer you on.
Get up and own your power.
Are you willing to do the dirty work required to achieve and sustain success?
If you want a different job, a different boss or a different career, what are you going to do about it? If you want to change your life, you have to get up. Get up and put one foot in front of the other. Get up and believe in yourself. Get up and do something to create the life you want. And don’t ever let anyone – including yourself – cause you to be defeated. You have the power to create a better life, a better career, a better you. You have what it takes to achieve success.
Never forget this. There is pain in everything. To get different, you will have to be different; to accomplish more, you will have to do more. And the dirty little secret is that successful people don’t get to escape life’s pains, risks, failures and rejections. Quite the contrary. Successful people actually embrace them, and this is how they achieve success in the first place.
I am a strategist, management consultant, executive coach and international speaker and have delivered meaningful results for executives and leaders in 43 states and 6 countries across 3 continents. I serve as CEO for ARVis Institute, a strategy, change, performance and human capital consulting firm. I have committed my research, education and professional talents to transforming governments, corporations, nonprofits and educational institutions and develop leaders and managers who have the capacity to create high-performing organizations and the competence to affect positive change.