When it comes to pursuing grand goals, what we are pursuing doesn’t determine whether or not we will succeed. It’s how we pursue it that matters most. It is the principles and not tactics that lead to success.
Today I want to give a little back story.
2015 will be a year I will never forget. It marks the year I made one of the most important decisions of my life. It was when I decided to stop following and start leading.
Just after the year began, I quit my corporate job to begin pursuing a life that was not entirely clear to me at the time.
As you can imagine, even without including the details, the move was bold. Usually, you would expect those who make such decisions to have carefully thought through and planned ahead. To have weighed the pros and cons. To have predicted the next 3 to 5 years.
Well, I didn’t.
At the time, I wasn’t as concerned about my future as I was in my current situation. I was unhappy and stressed out.
Why? I had this honest feeling, deep down inside, that I wasn’t headed down a path I would later be proud of.
I felt that there was a life waiting for me to begin living. That there was more I could get out of my journey than what I was already getting. That I could not just have dreams but begin moving towards them. That I could succeed.
So with all the strength and energy, I could gather, I made the leap of faith. Hoping to land in any humble but more positive situation.
But since life isn’t as perfect as a fairy tale, I ended up in what seemed to have been an even worse situation (or so it seemed at the time). The reality was a lot tougher to deal with than I had originally assumed.
To be honest, the challenge of having to start from absolute scratch with nothing more than a simple idea felt crazy. I spent sleepless nights trying to figure out things I didn’t realize I had to figure out.
I mean who would have thought that trying to succeed would be this close to impossible?
Hahahahaha. The joke was on me. :)
Why? Well, looking back, I’m surprised that I didn’t see this coming.
Considering the fact that most of my adult life has been about experiencing the same type of challenge almost always.
I mean, I am a graphic designer. I create 2D and 3D art. I do corporate branding (known by most as logo design) and my work got featured in a regional contemporary magazine called The Edition.
But when I think about it, trying to make my first pieces of art felt like trying to shave a beard with a sword. It was hard, tiring, scary, the work sucked, and seemed impossible to think that it would ever amount to anything.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I may not have thrived to the position of world’s best, but I’m certainly far from being labeled the world’s worst.
I make electronic music. I create background music (or scores) for the games I make. I have a following for the work I publish online.
But when I think about it, trying to make my first music projects (and my close friends can testify to this), you would have probably enjoyed the sound of nails scratching on a chalkboard to what I made. It was hard, tiring, scary, the work sucked, and seemed impossible to think that it would ever amount to anything.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I am NOT YET among the elite in the music/composer scene, but I’m certainly not just another fluke artist.
Did I also mention that I make games, build websites, develop android apps, design software solutions?
Fast-forwarding to the second half of 2015.
I’m at a place now where I have finally calmed down and business is starting to pick up ( quite rapidly if I might add). I feel lucky to have quickly arrived at this situation over the past couple of months. However, it's probably more accurate to owe a lot of that to my past experiences.
What's even more important is that I have learned so much that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone down this path. This is how it really works. You learn on the job as they say. No matter what dream you decide to pursue, no amount of theory can replace the true value of experience. Especially when faced with hardship.
Hardship, obstacles, challenges can make or break you. But the choice to let them do so is always yours.
I may not have entirely figured out what to always do to succeed at what I start. But just as important, I know what NOT to do.
The actions I took in my past… which make up my experience… are a reminder. Reminding me to make sure that I never forget these important truths:
First – I will never know, at the very start, what it will truly take to succeed at what I set my mind on doing. So there’s no use assuming anything at all. I won’t assume how hard or easy it will be. I won’t assume that I have or don’t have what it takes. I will just begin it.
Second – I have very little to no experience at all in this thing I’m trying to pursue. Estimating how long it will take to succeed should not be my primary concern. Only experienced people will tell. My job is to focus on gaining experience. The more I do, the more I understand. The more I understand, the more experience I gain. Whether good or painful.
Third – I can’t be the first and only person walking down this path. Someone who is now great was also once a beginner. I will learn from them. I will study their approach. Their tactics. Their books, blogs, tutorial videos. I will never approach this stubborn, thinking I know what I have to do on something I have never done before.
Fourth: I need to move past the feeling of disappointment from my earliest efforts which don’t look appealing. In fact, I should be proud to have quickly started failing. Because I will learn from my imperfection. My focus is on getting better and not being the best. The least I can do is promise myself that my next work will definitely be better than my last. So instead, I should be excited.
Fifth: Time isn’t an issue as long as I’m doing what I love. Why would I want the time to be shortened if I’m spending it on what makes me feel alive? I want to succeed. I want to make big bucks, but I do not want to be impatient. If all surgeons were impatient, the number of deaths a day in hospitals would be unimaginable.
I will always tackle any new project or venture from the stance of a beginner. Not just any beginner though. But a disciplined one.
You see, the hustle may vary but the principles behind trying to succeed are always the same. Don’t be surprised if you realize that some of the principles used by 50 Cent to become wealthy and successful are the same that Bill Gates may have used.
To focus on improving my understanding and applying these principles is what I need to do every time I approach a new pursuit.
My past experiences have strengthened me. Doing, failing, and improving has been a 3 step formula that has never stopped me from accomplishing my goals.
Those experiences make me confident that I will succeed. Those experiences make me 100% certain that I will not fail.
You need to start doing, failing, and improving as well. The challenge isn’t meant to break you. Instead, it should build you.
Make progress, not excuses.
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