It’s clear that we should try to alleviate other people’s pain – but what should we do about our own pain? One answer is to channel it into our passions.
Someone who did that to great effect was the rapper Eminem. Growing up in a poor family in a trailer park, he suffered many tribulations, which continued into his young adulthood with a slew of familial betrayals and bad jobs.
However, rather than stewing in his troubles, he used them as grist for his creative mill – transforming them into material for the rap lyrics that would eventually propel him from underground rap battles in Detroit to worldwide superstardom, with 220 million record sales under his belt.
Imagine you’ve sparked your burning desire and identified the talent that represents your calling. Mission accomplished, right?
Well, not quite. You’ve ignited your inner fire, but now you need to keep fueling it. One way of doing so is to keep practicing. Now, habitual practice takes great willpower. That’s why determination is the key to success; without it, your talent will peter out before it’s taken you far.
Consider Serena Williams. She’s extremely talented at tennis, but she didn’t acquire her talents overnight. It took her years of hard work to develop them.
When she was only three years old, she started a daily training regimen with her father. By the time she turned ten, she’d achieved her first success: playing in the junior circuit.
But she didn’t stop there. She kept practicing and competing – and after devoting 30 years of her life to tennis, she had the goods to show for it: 23 Grand Slam titles to date, more than any other player in the world.
On the opposite end of the physicality spectrum, consider the author Charles Bukowski. When he was young, he managed to get only two stories published. Then, he stopped writing for a decade. No determination, no success.
But then he returned to writing with a newfound sense of resolve. For 15 years, he wrote stories and poems every single day, and he submitted thousands of them to every publication possible, enabling him to live off his writing. With his first novel, Post Office, he finally attained success. He was 49 years old.
Besides challenges, there’s another form of kindling that can feed your inner fire: being broke. While this might seem like the opposite of success, it can also help you to achieve it.
Consider the story of Daymond John. When he was young, his mother taught him how to sew wool hats. After sewing 80 of them, he sold them for $10 each, bringing in a total of $800 – a significant sum for them at the time, since they were strapped for cash.
His fire was sparked, and he started fueling it right away. Eventually, he started the clothing brand FUBU. Within a few years, the company achieved $350 million in sales. Ten years later, it was worth $6 billion.
Dedication brought him to that achievement – but being broke gave him the drive to start down his path to success.
Every business has a set of values, and those values are embodied in its goals, which could range from boosting customers’ confidence to providing them with healthy, delicious food.
Like a business, your values are what guide you on your journey toward success. Also like a business, if you lose sight of them, you run the risk of losing your way.
That’s what often befalls family-run businesses; they go under by the third generation. Why? Well, they begin with a set of guiding values – providing upward mobility to their employees, perhaps, or ensuring customer satisfaction. The founder tries to pass those values down to her successors, but with each new generation, they get weaker and weaker.
How can this be avoided? Dick Yuengling provides one answer. His family-run brewing company, D.G. Yuengling & Son, is still going strong, despite having reached its fifth generation of ownership. What’s his secret?
Well, he set up his company in a novel way: instead of simply inheriting it, each new generation must purchase it from the previous one. Having to literally invest themselves in the company, the new owners are naturally led to reevaluate its values as they figure out how they want to run it.
By keeping sight of your values, you too can keep your eye on the prize: your goals. But that’s not enough. To truly make progress, you also have to ensure you‘re making decisions that help you grow.
Every time you make a decision in your career or business, you should ask yourself, “Was my decision fear-based or growth-oriented?” Many decisions are made out of fear. The author himself once took a job simply because he feared going broke, even though he didn’t feel any passion for the position itself.
When you make a fear-based decision, it generally points toward an underlying insecurity. For example, you might stay in a job you hate because you’re afraid you won’t find another one.
It’s natural to make such fear-based decisions, but it’s also inadvisable. In the author’s experience, they always lead to regret.
But it’s never too late to reverse course. After just three days into the job he took out of fear, the author simply got up and walked off into the proverbial sunset. As he left, he felt a profound sense of empowerment and freedom.
That’s not to say everything was easy for him from there on out. Moving forward, he often had money troubles. But his growth-oriented decision to quit his job enabled him to begin his journey toward becoming the successful author he is today.
In today’s fast-paced world, the only constant is change. Companies go bankrupt, technologies become obsolete and governments change their policies. To succeed in such a world, we must master the art of reinventing ourselves in order to navigate our way through the ever-shifting seas of the modern world and reach the shores of success.
Check out my related post: Do you have the loss aversion bias?