It is inevitable that the challenges we face in life will sometimes derail our progress towards our goals and aspirations. You may read about overnight success stories or techniques that promise instantly success, however the truth is that the road to success is usually long and fraught with obstacles. Think about what challenges you have faced in your life already, and let this be a reminder that you will need to be resilient, persistent and prepared to work as hard as necessary to make it to where you want to be. Here are 6 examples of challenges you may have to overcome to be successful:
We all hear stories about how famous, successful people failed over and over before they made it, but when you are truly chasing your dream you should not underestimate the fact that failures are inevitable and in many ways necessary. Overnight success stories are rare and often misleading, the normal route to success is through hard work, determination, persistence, creativity, flexibility and a little bit of luck and good timing. They key to getting through failure is to view it as a necessary part of learning. Try to fail quickly, and make sure you get yourself back up and persevere. Look on the bright side – you now know one more thing not to do.
Just in case failure starts inciting fear or lowers your motivation at any stage, refer to some of these examples for reassurance that even the very best fail before they make it:
- Jerry Seinfeld froze and was booed off stage on his first ever performance.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.
- Elvis Pressley was fired and told he wasn’t going anywhere after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
- Sir James Dyson had 5,126 failed prototypes over 15 years before he created the bagless vacuum cleaner that revolutionized the industry.
- Katy Perry was dropped from 3 record labels over 9 years before she found fame and success with her hit record "I kissed a girl" at the age of 24.
- Soichiro Honda (Honda Motor Company) had his piston rings he designed initially rejected by Toyota. After two years of redesigning, when his pistons were finally accepted, he saw his first factory bombed during WWII and the rebuilt factory level by an earthquake! He remarkably kept going and went on to create the Honda motorcycle. The rest is history.
A close relative of failure, rejection is another inevitability of progress and success. It’s something we all experience at various stages and it can impact multiple parts of our lives. Dealing effectively with rejection and not allowing it to block progress it is a skill in its own right and one that will bring you huge benefits if you can master it.
When dealing with rejection you should allow yourself some slack to process the situation, feel the emotions you need to feel and reignite your self-confidence and self-esteem ready to go again. Try not to always take rejection personally, as there will be many occasions that isn’t actually about you. It can also often help to surround yourself with positive influences, friends and family at difficult times. Remember that rejection is an inevitable part of your learning and take some comfort from the following well known examples:
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and told he wasn’t good enough. He has since gone on to be popularly regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time.
- Walt Disney was once told by a newspaper editor the he lacked imagination. Today Disney is one of the most famous and successful companies in the world, often celebrated for it's imagination.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Spielberg's is now an Academy Award winner and responsible for some of the greatest movies in history including Jaws, Jurassic Park and E.T.
- Stephen King’s book ‘Carrie’ was rejected 30 times before a publisher took it on. King has gone on to sell over 350 million books.
- Dr Seuss' first book was rejected 28 times. At the time of his death in 1991, he had sold 600 million copies of his books.
- Fred Astaire was, according to legend, according to legend, rejected during a Hollywood screen test when it was noted that he “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Dances a little.” By the end of his career, Fred Astaire had appeared in 31 musicals, televisions shows and recording over an incredible 76 years.
No matter how confident a person you are and how healthy your self-esteem, there will likely be times that you will doubt yourself or your abilities. These occasions may be triggered by an event (perhaps a failure or rejection as we covered above) or just rear their ugly head at unexpected times or for unexpected reasons. When these moments of self-doubt arise, often a good place for you to start your recovery is by exercising some self-compassion. You are human after all and so vulnerability and doubt are normal and to be expected at times, this does not make you weak.
Whilst self-compassion is healthy, don’t allow it to spill over into self-pity or a long-term barrier to progress. Use the self-doubt as a wake-up call to boost your self-awareness, ensure that you are not delaying progress by needing the validation of others, and reach out for the help and support you need to get you back on track as soon as possible. This is often easier said than done, but there will come a time when you need to take action to combat self-doubt, and no-one said that success was going to be easy. Rise up to the challenge, you are capable, you just need to re-start believing that you are again.
4. The Opinions of Others
This is a bit of a double edged sword because the opinions of others can be positive or negative, and either way, they can both boost or decelerate your progress and motivation. For example, sometimes a negative opinion can kill your morale, but sometimes it can give you extra energy to prove people wrong. A positive opinion can give you a confidence boost or make you complacent. It depends on the circumstances and what kind of person you are.
Confusing right, so what should you do? Well if you listen to the advice of the majority of successful people, you need to focus on your own vision and opinions, whilst drowning out most of the noise around you. Caring too much about what other people think can cause unnecessary distractions and emotional roadblocks. Self-validation is the only kind of validation that you truly need.
Remember that you will never please everybody and there is nothing wrong with that, we are all unique individuals with our own subjective viewpoints and beliefs. It’s also ok to make mistakes as you follow your vision, but you will learn and quicker and beat yourself up much less if your mistakes are based on your own beliefs and actions as opposed to being influenced too much by others.
5. Lack of Learning
There is an easy way out of this one – never stop learning. This doesn’t just mean learning from your mistakes, but also making a conscious effort to use the resources available to you to keep proactively and consistently learning. Even if you are an expert in your field, remember that the world is evolving at an astounding rate and make sure that you don’t get left behind or miss the opportunities for innovation out of complacency.
There are so many ways to learn in the modern world – physical books, e-books, audiobooks, podcasts, online videos/tutorials and endless classroom training courses for anything you can imagine, both physical and digital. There are no real excuses to stop learning, make the time for it.
If you are ever unsure about what to learn next, then think about what challenges you have faced or are likely to face in the future. These challenges may hinder your progress if you don't increase your knowledge sufficiently to deal with them when they arise. For additional inspiration then check out our blog post on 28 books to help you become successful.
6. The Unknown
We obviously had to include this to create synergy for our brand, but it is a legitimate obstacle. Fear of the unknown is a common phobia, but it affects us all in different extremes, under different circumstances. As human beings we unfortunately can’t control the future, but we can increase our chances of having a successful future by taking the appropriate steps. Teach yourself to see the future with optimism instead of fear, no matter what the current circumstances. Practicing meditation can help re-align your mindset to be more positive and overcome some anxieties. Two other ways you can help yourself see the future more positively is to learn to embrace change and see failure as a real but acceptable risk. If you really consider your worst-case scenario a couple of years in the future, you will often find the scenario you are imagining is incredibly unlikely, would be temporary even if it happened and you will be able to recover from it. Never view future risks or failures as permanent, thoughts like that will only hold you back unnecessarily.
There are so many challenges we face in life that we could comfortably add another 10 points to this article, but to keep it focused we will stop at these 6 common obstacles for the time being. To end on a positive note let's take a look at some overcoming obstacles quotes for a boost of motivation and inspiration:
"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity" - Albert Einstein
"We develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and obstacles" - Stephen Covey
"Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle" - Christian D. Larson
"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it" - Moliere
"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it" - Henry Ford
"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it" - Michael Jordan
We hope you have enjoyed this article and we would love to hear from you on the topic of overcoming challenges or adversity. Share examples of challenges you have overcome in our comment box below.