Perhaps this is an unusual introduction to an article on personal development or self improvement but, I would like to start by quoting 50 Cent – yeah, the rapper 50 Cent – who said “Most people can’t handle boredom. That means they can’t stay on one thing until they get good at it. And they wonder why they’re unhappy.”
Unfortunately, we have a big problem with patience and perseverance because we live in a world where we expect instant results. If we’re hungry, we want fast food! If we’re feeling down we want instant gratification – hence the proliferation of so-called anti social behaviour brought on by (and I’m quoting a couple of teenagers on this one) going out at night with the sole intention of getting drunk! Again, our desire for instant kicks is exemplified by the fact that pornography is one of the biggest online businesses. And again, there’s an ongoing spiraling rise in drug abuse, soft and hard. In exactly the same way, television is teaching us that anyone can be an overnight success – whether it’s American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent or the X-Factor, we’ve a whole new breed of people who think that you don’t have to work, persevere at and stick with something to become a success. Little wonder that Usher recently said that such shows were slowly killing the music industry.
But enough! This article is not about the music industry, TV or, indeed, sex, drugs and rock and roll – this article is about success and how to achieve it.
The first thing that we need to deal with is the concept of “hard work”. You do not have to work hard to be a success. Hard work is only a state of mind (normal people think that their work is hard so it ends up being hard – they prove themselves correct!) There is a world of difference between hard work and a labour of love – doing something, not necessarily because you enjoy it but because it is an important piece of a jigsaw, a means to an end. As Muhammad Ali, who hated running on the road, said “I run on a Wednesday, so I can dance on a Saturday!” However, if you’re like all the other normal people whose lives will never amount to anything great, if you’re easily bored or quickly disillusioned, then almost anything that you turn your hand to will become hard work. And once anything becomes hard work, it’s the easiest thing in the world to lose interest and to turn to something else that will give you the instant kick that you’re looking for or have come to expect out of modern life.
And that’s why so few people truly succeed. To succeed you have to be single-minded and ruthless. You have to be ruthless with yourself, with working on and maintaining your focus and state of mind. You have to be ruthless in terms of sticking to your objective. A good friend and colleague who is a visiting lecturer at the University of Madrid Business School’s MBA Program recently told me that they had collated data that strongly suggests that highly successful business people are those who have failed many times but who have tried again and again and again. This data also suggests that only one in ten thousand people will, having failed three or four times, try again.
But, of course, even in the course of our everyday ordinary lives, we fall on our face again and again. We may be trying to commit to a level of personal mental discipline that will give us the kind of clarity of mind that will enable us create the success that we want. However, always lurking in the shadows, our default state of “I’m bored” mind kicks in and we somehow believe that our best efforts are going to end up coming to nothing. Then again, our best efforts will always come to nothing if we don’t pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start over – therein lies the secret of success.
I started by quoting 50 Cent – let’s finish by quoting Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States who said: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”.
This perseverance must permeate your life – in particular, in your ongoing efforts to develop the clear and present mindset that creates the foundation for effortless success. But, then, what if you fail or feel that you’re failing? Well, failure is just another opportunity to persevere.
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