We can’t help it. When we read an interview with a high flying, successful person, we secretly compare ourselves to them with our mind making little mental notes. Their lives seem perfect, and they seem so poised and confident. I wish I could be like that. Why do they seem to have it all, while I am struggling? When will things ever go my way?
For the longest time, I too believed in these popular myths of success, until I met several CEOs who became my mentors. When I asked each one of them what is the one biggest lesson they would like to share, their answers were unexpected, powerful and humbling.
These are the 5 powerful and humbling lessons they shared about success:
1. Nobody has Their Stuff Together
Just when you least expect it, an obstacle pops up, threatening to derail you from your goal. And sometimes, the bad news just keeps coming, which kicks you in the gut and you feel ready to give up. In comparison, successful people seem to be blazing trails of success. It almost seems unfair. While they appear to be picture perfect, where nothing can go wrong, the truth of it is this:
Nobody has their stuff together. We see these crowning moments of glory. But we don’t see the private, vulnerable moments behind the scenes. The sleepless nights worrying about what to do, where a series of wrong decisions resulted in people getting laid off. The endless meals alone in yet another soulless hotel room, with no one to share the burden with, because they don’t have the time to make a relationship work.
Obstacles and problems will always exist, no matter who you are. However, the challenges appearing to each of us is unique, and help us grow beyond the level we are at. A successful life is not about a lack of challenges, it’s about navigating and growing through the challenges so that we continue evolving to become the fullest potential of who we are.
2. Uncertainty Never Disappears
Brimming with confidence and well spoken, they always seem to know exactly what to say, and what to do in any situation. They seem to be the last people on earth to flail and feel vulnerable.
While on the surface they appear to be confident, the struggle with not knowing what to do plagues them as much as us. This can be the uncertainty of making a project work, because they have never done it before or lacking the necessary experience.
They can be worried that by taking this on, they might be biting off more than they can chew and experience massive failure and disastrous consequences. Nonetheless, the difference for them is despite their fears, they say yes and go ahead.
“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.” – Bernard Beckett
3. Jump Before You Are Ready
Uncertainty and not knowing is a part of life. It never goes away. If you stay where you are, it feels safe and comfortable. But, it is a guarantee that you would not rise beyond where you are now if you don’t step out and make your move.
To take the leap of faith, your work through the uncertainty is the only way to grow. The fear of the unknown is not as scary as we make it out to be. All you have to do is to ask yourself “Do I believe I have what it takes to figure it out?” If your gut says yes, go for it.
4. It’s Not about External Motivation
Most successful people come with the traditional markers of success. Wealth. Status. A comfortable lifestyle. However, external motivation – the cars, the houses, the jewelry etc – can only motivate them so much.
Their motivation stems not from the outside – but from within themselves. It’s about their internal drive to be better thus building and expanding a grander vision of what they wish to create, and where they want to be.
That internal motivation is the driving force that pushes them through when things start to fall apart, because then it’s a battle within to overcome these setbacks and achieve their vision.
5. They Are Mental Ninja Masters
When everything that could go wrong, would go wrong, it’s natural to beat ourselves up. This negative feedback loop keeps replaying in our minds, and we start believing our negative self-talk, which threatens to spiral out of control and bring us down.
A few years ago, one of the CEOs I interviewed, Dave, was going through a particularly difficult time. Several major business deals fell through in quick succession. He emptied his life savings trying to keep things afloat, only for it to backfire and lost his life savings in the process.
He was faced with the real possibility of laying off hundreds of people at the company. Many lives were at stake here, and the pressure was on. He faltered, but only for a day.
He then rallied and continued to hustle. He hustled harder, stronger and faster than ever before. It was fascinating and impressive. What was his secret to bouncing back so fast from all the punches thrown at him?
He didn’t allow the negativity to control him. He controlled and directed his mind. Half the battle is with ourselves. We are often our own worst enemy with our negative self-talk.
Mastering control over your mind, instead of letting your mind control you is half the battle. Stop the negative self-talk when it happens. Redirect it towards positive action to achieve the outcome you desire.
“Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity of others.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Ready For Your Next Step?
Success is not out of reach. All it takes is showing up each day and having the courage to take one small step towards the direction of your goals. Your new life of freedom and possibility awaits.