There are times in life when our determination is tested. When everything seems like it is no longer worth the struggle. When it would be easier to quit then continue on. This post maybe more for myself than others but many people get to this point in life. When it feels like the struggle isn’t worth it anymore.
There are moments when I look at the growth of my website and readership. And I feel like it would be easier to quit. Easier to give up. But that’s not where true greatness and success comes from. Success comes from a place of determination or as Angela Duckworth calls it “grit.” The ability to continue on and persevere even when it seems like there is no light in sight. The drive to continue into the darkness without any prospects for success. That is real determination and the stuff elite performers are made from.
I have been reading “success” stories for much of my life and the one thing that truly sticks out is the perseverance to never give up. Even when people tell them it is a stupid idea. Or when people tell them it is impossible.
Elon Musk is driven by two things in his life. The desire to extend humanity and solve our problems. Musk looks at problems and decides he is a person that can solve them. The idea of putting humans on Mars seems impossible but not to Musk. He looks at the problem as just another challenge that needs solving. The idea of combustible gas motors polluting our plant seems like an impossible to solve. But Musk decided to start Tesla and make great electric cars. Musk looked the problem of traffic in Los Angeles and decided he could fix this problem with an underground tunnel.
Every one of these problems seems impossible to solve. I’m sure when Musk talked about solving these problems people though he was crazy. There would have been many naysayers and critics. But through determination and laser focus, Musk has proven many people wrong. When Musk is trying to solve a problem, I’m sure he has times of doubt. But the determination to keep going in the face of darkness is what separates Musk from others and makes him an elite performer.
Habit Formation and Determination
A quote from George Leonard’s book Mastery comes to my mind when I think about determination:
“To practice regularly, even when you seem to be getting nowhere, might at first seem onerous. But the day eventually comes when practice becomes a treasured part of your life. You settle into it as if into your favorite easy chair. It will be there for you tomorrow. It will never go away.”
To me determination is to practice your craft daily and never deviate. It just becomes part of your day. It becomes part of you. You build your business daily because it is part of you. You write your book daily because it is part of you. You study daily because it is part of you. The habits you form become your determination.
Determination is not just the professional parts of your life. Determination can be anything. Determination to lose weight. Determination to raise healthy and happy kids. The determination to fight through your mental health problems. The determination to fix broken relationships.
For most of us we look at determined people as those who push forward in their careers. Those people who the world views a successful. But determined people can come from any walk of life. A refugee moving their family out of a war tourn country, to a safe environment. A drug addict or acholic trying to overcome their addictions. These things are harder than building a company or career.
People who fight through unimaginable circumstances are the determined ones. The examples above should make you feel like the things you are fighting through are not so difficult. Your career and business goals are achievable if you just continue on. Be the person who does not back down even when obstacles are in the way.
“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.” – Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
Perspective and Determination
Perspective is one way to control your mind and over-come obstacles. If you look at your problems through a different mindset. You know every problem has a solution. Every problem is solvable. If people didn’t believe this, we wouldn’t have scientists and mathematicians. We wouldn’t have people who have dedicated their lives to figuring out the mysteries of the world. With a curious mind and a focused mindset, we can solve anything. If you are having problems with determination. If you are struggling to stay focused in your life. Approach your problem with a different mindset. Approach your problem with a different set of eyes. A new outlook might be all you need to keep you focused and determined.
Rejection and Determination
From my studies of successful people. Anyone who truly meets their goals has a healthy relationship with rejection. They don’t care how many times they pitch their business idea for funding. They don’t care how many job interviews they go on before getting their dream job. They don’t care how many teams they get cut from. Or how many auditions they play. Failure and rejection are a part of success.
If you look into previous jobs of entrepreneurs, you’ll notice many of them started their careers as salespeople. From early in their careers, they were rejected on a regular basis. If anyone has ever been in a sales position you know you have a lot more noes, then yesses. I accepted a job as a door to door salesperson when I was going to college selling security systems. I lasted about 4 hours in the pouring rain selling security systems, no one wanted to buy. From that limited time as a salesperson I can tell you that rejection sucks! And getting rejected over and over really sucks. Although if you are looking to start a business or find your perfect career this will happen over and over.
Rejection isn’t just a part of your professional life. Rejection can be multiple failed relationships until you find the right person. Rejection can be multiple dates until you find that person you can spend your life with. This is no easy feat. To push yourself through date after date only to be rejected. But determination is the ability to push through those things. To not settle. To find the person that is right for you. To find the relationship that will last a lifetime.
You have to be the driving force in your life. Be the person who propels their career and life forward. No one is going to apply for those jobs for you. No one will pitch your ideas to investors. No one will go on the dates for you. You have to do this for yourself. This what truly makes a person successful the willingness to be rejected. The willingness to fail.
What conservations are you having with yourself?
You may find this weird, but most people have an internal dialog with themselves. We actually spend a good portion of our day talking with ourselves. How is your internal dialog? Is it encouraging and supportive? Or is it degrading and negative?
This is an important aspect of life. If you can’t have healthy conservations with yourself, how can you have ones with others? How can you develop that determination and grit that allows people to succeed? It is critical you start having healthy conservations with yourself.
You may be asking; how do I do this? The simplest way is to keep a journal. These moments of self-reflection, when you let random emotions out on paper, can be very therapeutic. This is one of my favourite parts of my day. The 20 minutes that you spend reflection in your journal. Helps eliminate anxiety and negative thoughts. It also helps you induce creativity.
Most people can remember having “journal time” in elementary school. I never fully understood the purpose of this activity until I started keeping a journal as an adult. The main goal is to let your thoughts run freely without limits. The conservations with yourself on your journal pages can have a big impact on your life.
Do yourself a favour and start keeping a journal. It may seem childlike but the act of releasing your tensions on paper will improve your life. And may be something you look forward to daily. I will go further into my journaling process in future articles.
If you are struggling with determination or “grit” in your life I hope this article helps you. Also, if you are looking for a more in-depth analysis of determination, I suggest reading Angela Duckworth’s novel Grit. It explores many aspects of determination. Mainly analysing if determination can be developed or if we are born with determination. It also has some parenting tips for developing determination in your children.