So You Think You’re The Least Likely to Succeed…

Do you think you’re not worthy? That you’re among the least likely to succeed? Be honest. If so, check out this list of people who were deemed to be least likely to succeed:

  • Dr. Seuss, author of “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
  • Tom Cruise, actor with 80 film award nominations and 29 wins
  • Robin Williams, actor with 40 film award nominations and 18 wins
  • Gene Hackman, award winning actor
  • Dustin Hoffman, award winning actor
  • Jack Clifford, founder of the Food Network
  • Erin Brockovich – environmental activist who won the largest medical settlement in US history

Not what you expected, is it? I don’t know how the people above got beyond their label, but here are some ideas that may help you get past yours so that you can get on with your life and do what you love.

Natural talent is a trap! We say that someone is “talented” when they grasp something quickly and easily. It’s a huge mistake to think that this quality means that this person can “succeed” in this endeavor. Studies have shown that people who continue studying and growing can be as good or better than those who aren’t quick learners. So just because you don’t look like a winner doesn’t mean you can’t be one.

Secretariat, the greatest race horse in history, was called a “big, fat sucker who wasn’t in a hurry to do anything” by his exerciser. He had a tendency to run towards the rails while racing and had to wear a hood to help him run straight. In his early days, no one would have said he had talent. He was fat and slow. Yet that didn’t stop him from being the first horse in thirty-five years to win the Triple Crown.

Don’t struggle. Do what you love. We have all these sayings about struggle like, “There is no success without struggle.” (~Frederick Douglas) and “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” (~Oprah Winfrey). Who doesn’t grow up believing that you have to suffer for success? Well, I am about to contradict Oprah Winfrey and Frederick Douglas!

When you do what you love, there is no struggle. It almost certainly requires effort. It will probably feel like work, but it’s definitely not a struggle. And you do what you do because you enjoy it. You’d do it if no one paid you. The joy you get from doing it is its own reward. So you keep going. You keep learning. This will take you much further than someone who is motivated by money, fame, titles, or some other external reward.

Don’t listen to others – unless they are cheering you on. You know what they say about opinions? Everyone has one. It doesn’t make them right. There are times when you have to do a gut check. This is one of them. Even experts can be wrong.  Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, received 140 rejections before going on to sell 125 million books.

Either something is right for you or its not. Listen to your gut. If it says “yes,” spend some time developing it. Learn it. Do it. Love it.

Redefine success. For a lot of people, “success” means making X amount of money, being at least somewhat well-known, and being happy. If this is you, I am going to ask you to redefine your vision of success. Why? Because nobody gets to the middle of the ladder and says, “Okay, I am good here.” Once you get into that mindset of hitting peaks, it becomes a hamster wheel that you can’t get off of. This just leads to chronic stress, unattainable goals, and a lifetime of unhappiness.

So be happy first and let money and fame by a byproduct – if it comes at all. Maybe you will have tons of awards, fans, and sales along the way. And maybe you will just get to the end of your life perfecting a fly fishing technique that no one ever sees except your son and grandson. If you get there with a smile on your face, I’d say your life was a huge success.

Chasing an outcome always leaves you empty. You don’t have to do something that leaves a positive mark on the world to be successful. Success isn’t about how much money you make. To be successful you just have to live your life in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and pleasing to you. Even the least likely to succeed can do that – sometimes with the most spectacular success.

Posted in self-help, spirituality and tagged , .