“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
Life is full of struggle. Sometimes it seems as if you can’t catch a break. Everything is going against you. Only if you had been born taller, richer, more handsome, or stronger, then things could have been easier.
Unfortunately, you got what you were dealt and there is no use in fretting about it. You have to work with what you got. However not everything depends on luck. There are many things that you can do to change your life around.
If you look at the lives of some of the most successful people, most of them had to struggle and work hard to get to where they are at. They took what they had and multiplied it a thousand times.
It is struggle that creates champions. Most people who have not had to overcome challenges in their lives end up being soft and spoilt. That’s why most offspring of successful rags to riches entrepreneurs, end up pissing away their fortunes. Instead of continuing the hard work of their fathers, they spend most of their time getting drunk and taking drugs.
What divides the winners from the losers is their mindset. A loser sees that the world is unfair, whines and complains, but does nothing to improve his lot in life. A winner sees that the world is unfair, but that does not stop them from continuing to struggle in order to improve their own standing.
A winner ends up failing many times over and over again. That does not stop them from getting up and continuing on working hard. A wise man once said that if you fall down, you need to pick yourself up and continue on your journey. Then another wise man said the same thing, and another. This is a maxim that goes across times and cultures.
If you read about the lives of successful people, they are full of obstacles and challenges they had to overcome. Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin to a poor family, Steve Jobs was adopted, Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA grew up on a farm in a small village and started off by selling matches to his neighbors. All these guys faced challenges and overcame them to become successful.
What often brings us down and keeps us there is not the way we look, how rich we are or how much talent we have. What brings us down and keeps us there is our own mind.
Here are some simple guidelines that you can adopt in order to overcome any obstacle and become a winner:
1) Change your frame
The mind is a powerful tool, but they way it functions sometimes creates obstacles for us as well. Some of these are called logical fallacies. One of these is called the frame effect.
The lesson here is that the way you frame a problem has a powerful impact on what you will do next. Do you see the cup as half full or half empty?
You need to change your internal frame. Instead of thinking in a negative way and complaining, start thinking from the positive side. Every problem is an opportunity for you to grow and to challenge yourself. Every problem is also an opportunity to overcome it and come out a winner.
2) Accept responsibility for your own being
This is a crucial frame to adopt. You are the maker of your own happiness. You need to take matters into your own hands.
If you sit around and do nothing, then nothing good will come to you. However, if you accept responsibility for yourself, good things will start to happen.
Yes, unfortunately bad things happen and not everyone starts off at a good starting line, but that does not mean that you should blame everything on external factors. A loser always find a scapegoat for their problems. It is always someone else who is to blame, whether real or imagined.
A winner looks within himself to rise up and better himself. You need to come to peace with the way things are and that unfortunately the world isn’t perfect. Instead work hard on improving yourself.
There is no use complaining. Being “woo hoo” and fretting about how unfair the world is, isn’t going to help. It just adds to your misery.
Fact is, that if you don’t do anything, then nothing will change. Things won’t get better, but will likely only get worse. That’s why you need to act.
3) Don’t be afraid, take a risk
Anxiety and fear run our lives. We always fret about what will happen, how much money we have, what type of a job we have or don’t have and are always worrying about the future. Get rid of this anxiety and fear.
A winner is a risk-taker. They know that nothing in life comes without a price and they are willing to pay that price.
They know that in order to get something, you need to embark on paths unknown. If you want to gain something, you need to take a risk.
However don’t be reckless. A risk should always be calculated and you should always have a fallback plan. Jumping out of a plane without a parachute isn’t heroic, it’s just retarded.
4) See every failure as a learning opportunity
Not everything will go according to plan, not everything will turn out a success. A winner knows that success is accompanied by a thousand failures. Every time you fail, you just dust yourself off and continue.
See every failure as a learning opportunity. What have I done wrong? How can I change it? What should I do to get a better result the next time?
5) Separate factors that you can control, from factors that you cannot control
Ancient Stoic wisdom states that you need to divide up things into two groups, things that you can control and things you cannot.
There is no use in worrying or complaining about things that are outside your control. Instead use that time and energy to work on improving the things that you can change.
You need to have intense focus on changing things that are within your ability to control. A thing like height is largely outside your ability to change, however how much muscle you have is something that you can easily change. So focus on becoming muscular and stop complaining about how tall you are.
6) Set priorities
You cannot do everything. When you try to do everything, you will end up finishing nothing. Instead you need to focus and set priorities.
What are the things that matter to you and which things do you want to work on first? Work on only a limited set of goals at a time and add new ones only once you have accomplished or created habits that automate the process.
7) Actively look for opportunities
Your life is in your hands. Actively look for ways that you can improve it. Travel, read books, do sports, do the things that you always wanted to do and never thought you could.
By working on yourself, improving and achieving small goals, you create patterns of success. You then create a snowball effect, as more and more snow keeps piling on what was initially just a small ball of snow.
Your success will start increasing exponentially. The positive effects will spillover into other areas, reinforcing the way you think about the world and creating explosive growth. It is always hard to make the first million. After that, making more millions is easy.
It is the same way with the path to mastery. At first, even doing simple things is hard, but overtime, things get easier and easier and it takes almost no time to learn newer things.
This is where the famous “10 000 rule” applies. The more deliberate practice you get, the better you get and the closer you are to becoming a master.
A master sees things differently. They can make things look almost effortless, create something that appears as magic to the mere uninitiated mortal.
There are some practical tools you can use to set out on your path to mastery:
1) Assess the way you are and why you function the way you do. Once you know this, you can play to your strengths and know what weaknesses to work on. A good to use for this are NLP meta-programs. These are basically personality types and by knowing about them, you can easily set up an action plan that works for you.
2) Once you have an understanding of your internal workings, set up a vision of where you want to be. This vision will guide you on your journey.
3) Another good tool to use is having some sort of a self-development framework to guide you. For example you can adopt an agile method of self-improvement.
This method consists of several tools that you can use to help you, but it is also a way of approaching self-improvement. You do this by not only improving yourself, but being mindful of the process that you are using and improving it. Keep what works and discard what doesn’t.
Don’t let failure stop you
Challenges and obstacles should not stop you. Once gain take an example from other successful men. Great men faced great odds and overcame them:
Teddy Roosevelt? He was born a sickly child.
Michael Jordan? He was cut from his high school basketball team.
Andrew Carnegie? He was born in a one-room cottage that was shared with another family.
Teddy Roosevelt became a great athlete, and one of the most energetic men ever, rising to the top as the President of the United States. Michael Jordan became arguably the best basketball player ever. And Andrew Carnegie rose from nothing to create a huge steel empire.
All these great men had one thing in common. They did not let obstacles, failures and challenges stop them. Instead they motivated them even more. They were driven and worked harder to overcome them. Each failure was not a sign to give up, but instead to work even harder.
If you want to rise to the top, you need to take these lessons to heart. Get off your ass, create a game plan and finally start winning at life.
Read More: What makes a Renaissance Man?
Success tips from Muhammad Ali: Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.