Struggle Precedes Success

This morning I was struggling to find a way to start this blog, when an email popped up on my screen from one of my graduates and the first words I saw were, “If you’re afraid of dying – innovate; If you want to live – evolve”. Those words, and I don’t know who the source is, so perfectly describe what I want to share with you today and that is any great success in life is usually preceded by struggle.

When life and plans don’t turn out the way we expect it’s very easy to play the blame game, give up and walk away, usually settling for less than we really want. There is a better way and it’s one I have used time and time again, that is to use your setbacks and struggles to be innovative and evolve.

Failure and struggle is how we learn

Trial and error is how we learn. Struggle can motivate us. But when people are so afraid of failing they don’t even try. If you never have any errors, you also don’t have any successes either.

Some success can be a drawback too. When you need to maintain your reputation as an achiever, you may be afraid to make mistakes and hence you stop trying.

Like it or not the world is changing and we have to keep us or suffer the consequences. On a personal level the consequences are that we disconnect from others and the world we live in, on a business level it means death. In the 1920’s the average lifespan for a major company was 67 years, now it is just 15 years.

There is an inspirational poster created by the Wall Street Journal on struggle and success which says:

Don’t be afraid to fail

  • You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.
  • You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
  • You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim.
  • Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.
  • Were you able to skate or jump rope the first time you tried?
  • H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
  • 3M Corporation, one of the most successful companies in the world, was a dismal failure during its first 10 years.
  • English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.
  • Don’t worry about failure.
  • Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

It’s impossible to achieve great success without some struggle. Every problem holds within it the seed for greater happiness and success. Every weakness has the potential to become your greatest strength. Embrace your struggles, thank them, and look for the good. And remember, someone else will get your dreams, why not you?


The Mindset Of Success

One of my daughters experienced major depression in her teens, which prevented her from completing her HSC. As all of her friends went off to University she struggled to get through each day. When she sought full time work a few years later, with very little experience, she started on a salary of $50,000 a year, more than some of her friends who had graduated from University were receiving. Within three years she moved up to managing and marketing a large medical practice and her salary doubled. When she moved overseas a two-week temp assignment turned into full time work, and she stayed in that job until her visa ran out. She was earning five times more per hour than her fellow travellers who took on waitressing jobs.

Laura is a hard worker and is very intelligent, but so are many other people, the reason Laura has been able to succeed at anything she does is her mindset – she believes she can have anything she sets her mind to, and a positive mindset supports you to recognise opportunities.

Dr Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, carried out an interesting experiment with two groups of people. One group consisted of people who considered themselves ‘lucky’. The second group was made up of people who considered themselves to be ‘unlucky’. Both groups were asked to count the number of photographs that appeared in a newspaper. The people who considered themselves unlucky took several minutes to complete this exercise as they flipped through each page and counted the photographs. On average the group who considered themselves to be lucky only took several seconds to complete the task. The reason for this was that most of them had stopped on the second page of the newspaper after seeing the message: “Stop counting: there are 43 photographs in this newspaper”.

The people conducting the experiment concluded that people who believe they are lucky are always on the lookout for unexpected good fortune, whilst those who believe they are unlucky have closed minds, and therefore miss opportunities.


Your perception of life influences every choice you make. Perception determines how happy you will be, how hard or easy life will be and how successful you are. Just because you have taken on beliefs that may limit you doesn’t mean that the rest of your life has to be restricted by those beliefs. Our brains are continually changing as a result of our daily experiences.

You can change your life by changing your decisions but anyone who has made the decision to quit smoking or lose weight knows it isn’t always that simple. However, support that decision with your daily choices and a success mindset can occur quite easily.

Choices are made when you have two or more options. For instance, if you experience a setback you can choose to look for the opportunity in that experience or you can use this setback as an excuse to stop trying. The first choice supports you, the second choice doesn’t. When you establish the habit of always acting on the choice that supports you, you begin to establish habits which allow you to be successful at everything you undertake.

The Mindset Of Success

Whenever you learn something new, such as learning to tie your shoes, ride a bike or drive a car your brain sets up a neural pathway associated with that action. At first that neural pathway is weak and you may have to really focus on what you are doing to be able to do it. The more you repeat that action the stronger the neural pathway becomes and before long you can carry out that action without conscious thought. Most people believe that what happens to them determines how they feel but that is not the case, your neural pathways produce neurochemicals so your actions and reactions determine how you feel.

Around 30 minutes a day is all it takes to establish a new neural pathway. So you need to act as if you believe you can have what you want until such time that acting in this way becomes an automatic response.