Success is rarely easy.
It typically comes at a high price paid in a currency borne out of hard work and perseverance. To read of someone’s smooth ascent to success is to learn nothing — the battles for success are where the real lessons are learned.
Success is a topic at the forefront of my mind right now as I struggle with a health and fitness program called P90X that I started seven weeks ago. My story so far is a textbook example of everything that is real about the path to success: the hard work, unanswered questions, unforeseen complications and inevitable setbacks.
In this post I want to explain what I think it takes to succeed with anything in life — be it a fitness programme or an online business. Although the circumstances can be very different, the story is often the same.
You Will Never Be Completely Ready
Before I started P90X I had more questions than answers. There was so much about the program that I didn’t fully understand. That lack of knowledge was in part why I had never undertaking such an endeavour before.
So what changed? Well, I decided that I wouldn’t let a lack of knowledge stop me from trying. It was the same attitude I took to making money online — when I started back in May 2011 I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I decided to try something and see where it took me.
In reality I still have a huge number of questions and concerns about P90X. I wonder if I’m eating right and whether I have been pushing myself hard enough. I am concerned that my substitutes for the official supplements are not necessarily suitable. These are the type of concerns that can be seen as ample excuse to give up or never even try in the first place.
Success is not black and white. If you lack understanding in certain areas it does not make failure a certainty. It may reduce your chances of success, but the chance is still there to be taken. Furthermore, ignorance at the onset of an endeavour is often replaced by understanding gained through experience. There is no better feedback than that from personal experience.
It is highly unlikely that you will ever feel fully prepared for a potentially life-changing undertaking. As such, don’t use a lack of preparedness or understanding as an excuse for inaction. Someone with half the understanding that takes action has a far greater chance of success than someone with a complete understanding who does nothing.
You Will Struggle
Struggle is an inevitable presence on the path to success. By virtue of the fact that you are trying something challenging and outside of your comfort zone, you can expect to be presented with challenges and complications that you could not have possibly foreseen.
You will probably struggle more than you originally envisaged in ways that you could not have imagined. The key is in expecting to struggle and accepting it as an inevitability to be dealt with as and when it arises.
Those points at which you come up against a previously unforeseen challenge are typically pivotal moments. It is at those times that doubt will creep in. The temptation to simply give up will be strong. You will probably be required to work harder for the same outcome. Your actions in the face of those challenges play a huge part in determining your success.
Struggle shouldn’t be seen as an imposition — it is a marker of the potential for progress. If you are struggling you are not pushing yourself; if you are not pushing yourself you will not progress.
You cannot have success without struggle. It is something you should welcome as a sign that you are pushing yourself in the right direction.
You Will Question Yourself
As human beings we have a tendency to question our actions. Such questioning can be extremely valuable and should be welcomed, but you must ensure that the actions you take as a result are in your best interests.
In attempting to achieve something potentially life-changing, you will likely question yourself as to the worth of your endeavour. You will ask if what you are doing is worth the effort. You will ask if you what you are doing is actually likely of leading to the success that you crave. These questions are fuelled by doubt that can ultimately destroy what you are working towards.
Under such circumstances, you must seek to give yourself a valid answer. And there is only one way in which you can do so: to complete your undertaking.
You will only know if what you are doing is worth the effort by doing it. You will only know if what you are doing will lead to success by doing it. Anything else is guesswork.
In one respect, success and failure are both positive outcomes. Succeed and your reach your goal; fail and you will probably learn what you did wrong. That new understanding is invaluable and can fuel future success. If you give up then you have probably put in half the effort for none of the benefit. You must have more respect for yourself than that.
I am not saying that you should start something on a whim, but I am saying that once you have made the decision to try something, only the most compelling of questions should stop you from following the path you have started walking down.
It Isn’t a Case of Success or Failure
We all know what success is. We hope that we can achieve it through endeavour. But on the other hand, we fear failure. It is often what stops us from trying in the first place.
But in my opinion, if you try to succeed then failure is not an option. Even if you do not reach your goal, what you perceive as failure has probably empowered you with the potential to succeed in the future. You can dwell on the fact that you did not achieve your goal or you can recognise the value of what you have learned and move forwards.
Something you should be far more fearful of than failure is accepting the status quo. If you simply choose inaction then you are giving yourself a life sentence. Inaction gives you no chance of success. On the other hand, failure represents an opportunity to succeed in the future. It is a promise. It is one of the most valuable forms of education. It walks hand in hand with success.
What do you choose: inaction or action?