We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
- Eleanor Roosevelt
What allows some people to eclipse the realm of the possible? Are they really the exceptional ones, or is there more to the equation than mere luck?
Unconventional success redefines what we consider possible—it’s success that has not yet been defined by others. Essentially, it means paving a path through unchartered territory.
Over the past ten years, I have followed my personal vision, which has led me into uncharted territory on many occasions. Only recently have I begun to share my life with the world and to my surprise, I have been flooded with questions. People want to know more about the secrets behind what I've achieved. Reflecting on this question, I believe there are three essential ingredients in overcoming the mental barriers that prevent us from achieving unconventional success.
1. Focus on "What" not "How"
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
The first step in achieving anything is defining your vision. As a start, begin with this powerful question: "What do I want?" At this point, the "how" doesn’t matter since worrying about it only weakens your mental aptitude. Sometimes the question of "what" is easy to answer while at other times doing so is next to impossible. After all, the answer can be buried in guilt and other rationalizations of what you believe you should be doing. So it's critical to focus on your inner knowledge and filter through the extrinsic variety; after all, you want the clearest mindset you can have.
Four years ago, for example, I decided that I wanted to write a book that would change the world. I knew what I wanted, and that knowledge was a tremendously powerful feeling. So I knew the what: I wanted "to write a book," and I knew the why: because I wanted "to change the world." Talk about lofty goals to write down on a to-do list! But I focused on the goal instead of becoming mired in the intricate details about how I would actually accomplish it. In fact, I never purchased a book about writing, publishing, or any related how-to guide. Now, I realize that my omission was key among the reasons I was able to focus relentlessly and fearlessly on such a grand goal—I didn't care about the "how." Instead, I believed passionately that I would achieve my goal.
2. Have the Courage to Redefine "How"
Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death.
- Early Wilson
Once you have a vision of what you want, the next ingredient you’ll need is courage. Courage is associated with bravery and overcoming fear, and in order to find that courage, we must give ourselves permission to choose a different path, to be unconventional. In his blog post, Permission to Think Big, Alex Shalman discusses how we need to create a mindset for success:
Most of our decisions in life are based on whether or not we can give ourselves permission to tackle the big things. Whether or not we give ourselves permission is based on the amount of courage and self-esteem that we possess...Remember, if you’re going to listen to conventional wisdom, and follow everyone else’s advice, then you’re probably going to get the same results as everyone else. If you decide that’s not good enough for you anymore, make your own rules.
Now that is what I call powerful advice! Essentially, Alex is suggesting that you write your own playbook, and I couldn't agree more.
When deciding "how" to write a book that would change the world, I realized that I needed to create the playbook Alex was writing about. When I decided that failure was not the outcome I was looking for, I also realized that I was willing to make tremendous sacrifices to create that unconventional success. But in doing so, I had to reach the lowest point in my life before I could learn the real quality of perseverance. After all, how could I persevere on a path that no one had ever taken before? Nevertheless, I resolved to answer the question and didn't let anything stop me.
3. Choose to Persevere
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, "Press on," has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
- Calvin Coolidge
What does it mean, "to persevere?" Soon enough, that "what" of writing the book that will change the world will be realized (i.e., in less than three weeks!). Rather than feeling as if our lives are filled with mountains of negativity, we must replace them with hope that is fueled by perseverance. To achieve any type of success—conventional or otherwise—you must have hope that you will succeed. That means going through the good and bad times without losing that valuable perspective on hope and possibility. In short, it’s a little thing I like to call Perseverance.
I've decided to end this post with the words of Alex Oden, a two-time brain cancer survivor, college student, close friend, and one of the twenty individuals featured in Perseverance.
The most important thing in life: hope. Hope is the most empowering feeling a person can possess. As long as there is hope, there is a reason to keep living. As I have said before, life is a gift; we only get one chance at it. If there is a possibility for success, no matter how small, then there is hope. Life is too precious to give up hope.
Throughout history, individuals have redefined what we recognize as the realm of the possible. I'm giving you a glimpse at what it takes to do what you want to do, regardless of the myriad obstacles you’ll encounter. Of course, if you think it's easy, you're in for a BIG wake up call! You’ll need to decide for yourself if the sacrifices are worth the journey. I certainly wouldn't give up a single moment of what I've done, since without having encountered the struggles or making the sacrifices, I would not be living authentically. Today, I can say wholeheartedly that I am living my dream.
Are you excited? I hope so! Remember, nothing is required other than a willingness to reach deep inside yourself to find the strength you need to follow your dreams.
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Copyright Carolyn Rubenstein
Visit my blog, A Beautiful Ripple Effect, for fresh content and inspiring tools to help you turn knowledge into action and action into change!