To Be Unstoppable, You Must Want Something BADLY Enough!
Les Brown in one of his books challenges the reader not to be put off by initial setbacks – asking him/her to be “unstoppable” instead. Sometime in 2002, while delivering my flagship business marketing talk titled “Ten Ways You Can Use Self-Development To Create The Future You Want” to students in the main auditorium of the University of Lagos, I recall responding to a question by saying: “How badly you want something, will determine how far you will be willing to go to get it“.
The above mentioned philosophy is one that has guided me in my self-development efforts for most of my adult life. It is what has made me extremely effective and efficient in making myself acquire ANY new knowledge, skills/competencies that I identify as essential for achievement of any goals I set for myself. Many people who know me have continued to be amazed by my ability to do this. In fact it once made a senior colleague in my last workplace ask me: “Tayo, what is the secret?“.
My response was something like this: “There is no secret. I just convince myself of what I need to know/do in order to achieve a particular objective and then DO IT repeatedly, with a single minded commitment that recognises NO obstacles or limitations until I am done“. I think this attitude, is what the overall head of my last workplace – Andy R. Jones(Operations Manager, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Benin Brewery in 2001) – must have seen in just 11 months of my reporting to him, that made him say during the departmental send-forth ceremony organised for me(after I resigned to start my business in 2001 December) that “Tayo simply refuses to fail!“. (See my article titled “Should You Quit Your Job Or Start Your Business Part Time?” to read the comments Andy went on to “hand-write” in two – farewell/xmas – greeting cards he sent to me, few days before I finally left).
It is also the above mentioned philosophy(i.e. How badly you want something, will determine how far you will be willing to go to get it) that has enabled me consistently overcome (and make progress – sometimes by taking “baby steps” – in spite of) EVERY single setback, or obstacle that I have encountered over the past five years, to be where I am today as an entrepreneur. My message to you through this article therefore is that if you want to be unstoppable, i.e. to be able to make progress towards ANY goal you set for yourself in life, in ANY environment(and no matter the limitations), you MUST ensure your goal is something you want BADLY enough to be willing to go as far as necessary and keep going for as long as necessary, UNTIL you achieve it.
Doing the foregoing will require that you:
a. have BLIND FAITH(which will make you believe you will get there even if everything around you suggests otherwise) and
b. REFUSE to recognise failure(which will make you continue even when it looks like you have been defeated e.g. people are telling you to give it up or saying “Don’t you know when you’re beaten?”).
A Word Of Caution – Don’t Beat Your Head Against The Wall!
Please ensure you apply what I said above with the understanding that your set goal and adopted strategy will have been chosen/thought out in a manner that ensures you are not going to be beating your head against the wall. As Burt Dubin noted in one of his articles, you might have to follow a different route to achieve your goal, because you may encounter obstacles that cannot be surmounted, and which would be better dealt with by finding a way AROUND them instead of THROUGH them!
James Cook also suggests keeping an open mind about WHAT you want to do(Or WHERE you want to go), and HOW you will go about doing it(or getting there). According to him, your original plan may not work exactly as you intended, so that you may have to create a new one, which could see you ending up succeeding in a vocation far away from that which you originally started out to do – as was his experience(and that of Henry Ford, PLUS Thomas Edison).
To Be Unstoppable You Must Be Willing To Get Up EVERY TIME You Fall
Fran Tarkenton once wrote that true/successful entrepreneurs are often people who have failed in a number of past business ventures – BUT refused to stay down after they had fallen.
One truth I have come to realise is that when it comes to our WILLINGNESS to pursue and achieve challenging life goals, people are NOT equal. Some people seem to be unable to sustain their efforts to achieve the most basic of needs, even when not doing so causes them to suffer needless discomfort and lack. They are unable to endure the sometimes prolonged pain and suffering that can be initially part of such struggles. If you are like this, it will be difficult for you to develop and maintain “Blind Faith” and/or “Refuse To Recognise Failure”.
Yet there is another group who seem to know just when and how to turn on themselves to match any form of difficulty that may come their way, such that they always come out on top. These people maintain a tough mental attitude seemingly impervious to the discouraging reality of their environment, and so carry on till they achieve their goals. I provide – further down – evidence confirming that Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela successfully used “Blind Faith” and “A Refusal To Recognise Failure” to achieve the great feats for which they are today acknowledged.
How To Develop Blind Faith And A Refusal To Recognise Failure
1. Choose A Goal You Have Passion For/Conviction About: As I have said elsewhere, without passion for a cause, you cannot have conviction to pursue it. Without conviction, you cannot stay committed to it over the long term. Without commitment that is based on a conviction about your cause or desired objective, you will not be able to sustain the positive upbeat mental state needed to persevere UNTIL the set goal is reached.
In other words, mental toughness or the right mental attitude cannot be developed based on nothing, You must first of all have a purpose set in your mind that you wish to achieve, because it is very important to you. That desire is what will fuel your other emotions and ultimately manifest in a “hunger” that feeds your mind – making you unwilling to stop UNTIL your aim is achieved.
2. Read About(And Study/Listen To) Others Who Have Done It: When you read/hear about how a real-life person endured similar or possibly greater suffering to record a noteworthy achievement, that knowledge is likely to inspire you to persevere if/when during the pursuit of your own goals you encounter similar difficulty. Books have been said to “strengthen the mind” – I mean non-fiction books about real people, who recorded inspiring achievements. That’s why many successful people openly acknowledge one or more books as influential to their development and success.
Numerous great achievers, with little or no special abilities, and who in their early years even struggled with some of the more basic activities in life, credited their reading habits, and studies of the lives of those who had already done what they wished to do, as the reasons why they eventually achieved notable success.
The steps I have just described above result in the condition described by Napoleon Hill as “Blind Faith” and a “Refusal To Recognise Failure”. These two states of mind produce in an individual so driven, a level of mental toughness that very often helps him/her achieve what would otherwise be an impossible goal.
It does NOT matter if the person is 3 feet tall, a stammerer, blind, lame or hunch-backed. As long as s/he has blind faith and refuses to recognise failure, it will only be a matter of time before s/he records significant success(es) that the world will have no choice but to acknowledge.
The following individuals achieved fame/fortune despite the initial limitations imposed on them by fate or their circumstances/environment:
1. Julius Ceaser was an epileptic.
2. Chief MKO Abiola(Late Billionaire International Business man/President Elect for Nigeria’s cancelled 1992 elections) once sold newspapers.
3. Collin Powell’s first job was as a floor mopper.
4. Charles Dickens was lame.
5. Plato was a hunchback.
6. Albert Einstein’s teachers said he was “dull-witted” and “would never amount to anything”.
7. Thomas Edison’s teachers concluded he was “addled”(his mother disagreed/decided to teach him at home. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for doing what she did).
8. Abraham Lincoln had few months of schooling, then spent almost 30 years( from the age of 22) failing in the pursuit of virtually every major goal he set for himself, UNTIL he tried to become President – and succeeded!
How Long Should It Take You To Succeed?
Click here to download a mind map that answers this question by using Abraham Lincoln’s life as a case study.
I believe the ONLY correct answer to this question is: As long as necessary. You can set a desired target date to achieve your goals, but you CANNOT force yourself to succeed on that exact date, if it happens that your plans do not make it possible for you to do so(Recall Napoleon Hill’s advice that whenever you experience failure, you must take it as a sign that your plan needs more work).
That’s why it’s not enough to know how to do something. You must also develop the mental stamina to cope with the attendant challenges/difficulties that will come up when you are engaged in your chosen endeavour. Sadly, this requirement is not recognised by a lot of people. As a result, when the delay in appearance of the desired end result is prolonged, they soon become willing to compromise by giving up their set goal and accepting to do something else – or simply going back to what they were comfortably doing prior to taking up the new challenge.
Yes, this aspect of a success conscious mental attitude is what a lot of people do not realise they lack, especially when they start preparing to pursue a goal like starting a business. They would often have consulted the right people; attended the seminars; mastered the technical aspects of running the business. BUT they often neglect to develop the mind set/mental attitude needed to keep going when their plans fail to work as expected
As a result, they are unable to internalize the following dictum: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going“(Which is actually much easier said than done!). This prevents them from digging in to discover the “wisdom” necessary for survival/success in the real business world. They take these aspects for granted and many, very many, find this to be their undoing in the end.
Abraham Lincoln – A Man Who Knew Where He Was Going, And Was Prepared To Keep Going UNTIL He Got There
In the case of Lincoln, every time I read through the various accounts of his many failures, I cannot help thinking “What audacity: For a guy who had failed in so many lower pursuits, to STILL have the guts to aim for a goal as high as THE Presidency!!“. That’s probably the best example of BLIND FAITH and A REFUSAL TO RECOGNISE FAILURE at work! Incidentally, I find it a bit intriguing that Lincoln got elected president in 1860, and died five years later, having served out his term, in 1865. Almost like he “felt” he had achieved his purpose on earth – what a way to go! Some people would have “died”(figuratively speaking) if they had to endure repeated failure like Lincoln did from the age of 22(when he first failed in business) till he clocked 51 years, and became P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T!
“The world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going” – Abraham Lincoln
Download YOUR Copy Of A Mind-Map On Blind Faith, Based On Lincoln’s Life
I have created a special MS Excel mind map chronicling the notable failure events in Abraham Lincoln’s life, including the time intervals that passed between EACH failure. The objective is to help the reader put into perspective the tremendous amount of self-belief, and indomitable spirit of this great man that made him carry on, even when countless failed attempts suggested he could not achieve the different goals he set for himself at different times. Hopefully, you will be able to draw inspiration from that mind map’s contents to keep going UNTIL you succeed in achieving your own set goals.
Click here to download the mind map now.
Enter The Mind Of Another Great Achiever Who Succeeded By Having “Blind Faith” And “Refusing To Recognise Failure”
Nelson Mandela! He spent 27 long years in prison, during which time he repeatedly REFUSED to give in to pressure to change his position on apartheid. His mental toughness derived from a conviction that was based on the vision he had for his people.
Personally, I think it is important for every human being to always reflect on the words s/he utters from his/her mouth to ensure what s/he truly means or believes is what s/he says. When people talk about Mandela and refer to his 27 year stay in prison, very few think of the real-life implications in terms of the prolonged period of delayed gratification he had to endure. Mandela obviously believed what he said about stopping racial discrimination in his country, which explains why he was willing to give up almost three decades of his life to achieve it.
Come with me on what I will call a “layman’s psychoanalysis” of Nelson Mandela’s prison experience, and gain some insight into what he had to endure during that period.
Forget the historical background details. Start from the prison entrance. Suddenly he could no longer simply get up and walk out through any doors he wished, at will. He had to ask for permission or wait till the specified times when others like himself in prison would get a chance to go out on walks etc. He no longer could see his wife or family/friends at will. He could no longer simply get up and make phone calls to anyone he wished. He could not observe public holidays and go on picnics with family/friends. When famous musicians performed he could not be there…etc
Now to the time dimension. One year passed. That was still ok. Then three passed. Later seven. Then TEN years passed! How many people who used to visit him do you think still continued visiting him in prison at this time? And how many of those who were still visiting him do you think were still as convinced as they were in the beginning, that he should not compromise his stand in exchange for freedom. And what was he thinking himself at this time?
I do not have the answer to the above questions. However I am sure it would have helped for him to hear of the many events(musical concerts etc), annually organised to campaign for his freedom. BUT that knowledge, though morale boosting, could not possibly have reduced the difficulty of being in isolation for so long. I mean, even if people on the outside say they are fighting for you, you ALONE know what it feels like to be IN THERE, continually denying yourself so much!
Let’s finish the time “thing”: At a point, twenty years had passed and he was still in prison. Then as it almost became thirty years, he was released! Think about it this way: A person who was born in the year Mandela went into jail, would have become a mature adult of at least 26 years of age by the time Mandela was released!(As a child, I grew up hearing “FREE Mandela songs” played by musicians in my country, so in many ways I can relate to this).
Before Mandela’s release, there were probably some people who wondered to themselves – and probably to his hearing – why he did not just give in and accept the apartheid government’s proposal/conditions. But he did not. What could have made a rational man, a lawyer by training, continue in what at the time must have seemed a hopeless crusade that threatened to make him “waste” the rest of his useful life in prison? It could ONLY have been blind faith, and a refusal to recognise failure.
An Exercise For You To Do: Try staying in ONE little room without making contact with people or having access to basic conveniences you’re used to for just ONE day, and see how you feel AFTERWARDS. Then imagine having to endure that and more for 27 long years!! Actually, your imagination would fall short(as this is best appreciated through direct experience) – but you’ll hopefully get some idea of what it feels like.
Summary: That It “Looks” Like You’ve Failed Will NOT Mean You Have!
“To succeed, one must keep one’s eyes focused on one’s destination, not where one has stumbled” – Nigerian proverb seen on a billboard along the third mainland bridge leading to Victoria Island in Lagos.
““When you fearlessly pursue excellence by repeatedly failing and learning from those failures in order to succeed at newer and higher levels in life, you ALWAYS gain an edge over those who choose to play safe.”” – Tayo K. Solagbade
Many successful persons interviewed by Napoleon Hill confirmed that their eventual breakthroughs came at a time when it appeared they had been overtaken by defeat. Hill consequently went on to describe failure as being “tricky”, with a penchant for “tripping” a person when s/he is close to success.
And THAT is why you need to have blind faith and refuse to recognise failure – IF you want to be UNSTOPPABLE!