I was out for a walk the other day, during my lunch break, and I’d been craving shawarma from my favourite little spot near by. Interestingly enough, I had just watched an extremely powerful talk by Simon Sinek about Millennials (it’s not what you think). Anyway, I finally arrived at this tiny little shawarma takeout place, which is family owned and where the men who work there always serve you with bright beautiful smiles. The pleasant, friendly service is half the reason why I like that place so much; the other half is of course the delicious food on which I always put way too much garlic sauce for someone who has to work in close proximity with colleagues all afternoon.
That day, I noticed that the youngest in the family wasn’t feeling it. I’d spoken to him before and he had shared his passion of working in the fitness industry and his dream of opening his own gym. But he hadn’t been successful and so had taken this job. His smile was usually the brightest… but today, when I asked him how he was (as people do when they greet each other), he smiled kindly, allowed himself to be authentic with me for a few seconds, and admitted that he was just “alright – same old, same old”. I offered something along the lines of “Well it’s better than a lot of other people, right?”. But I knew, as I walked away, that I had missed an opportunity.
This is the point where young people stop believing in the possibility of their dreams.
So I’m going to share with you four things I wish I would have shared with him, in the hopes that some day, I’ll have enough guts to offer him, or someone like him, my card so that maybe I can help him get back on the path towards doing what makes him happy.
1. Start small
So let’s say you’re in a dead-end job that you don’t feel great about. Every time you’ve applied for a promotion or a better job, they pick someone else. Your partner left. Your car is a piece of crap and you’re certain that your cat hates you and is trying to kill you. Life generally sucks.
So of course, you’re reading this crap about the Law of Attraction from these self-help weirdos or watching young online entrepreneurs filming YouTube videos from their secluded island in Fiji and thinking “Uh yeah… like THAT’ll ever happen to me”.
Even if you actually said “OK! I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna turn things around!”, there’s probably a part of you that will still be saying “Dream on. It’ll never happen”.
But I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it; it’s just going to take a little time, a lot of work, and a sh*t ton of grit.
So start small.
Set yourself a goal to do at least one thing, every day, that will be in the direction of what it is you want. So if I was talking to this young man, I would make suggestions like:
- call every gym he can find and ask if he can join their personal trainer list;
- talk to other personal trainers, make as many contacts as he possibly can, especially the successful ones, and learn from them;
- talk to people in the nutrition business too!
- get IN the gyms, and get in there often. Don’t take no for an answer and make sure they get to know you;
- talk to the managers, the owners and befriend them. Again, you want to learn from them.
Those are just a few things to start with that I can think of and I’m not even IN the fitness business! I’m certain he would have been able to think of many other things he could do.
Did you see, in that list, what I meant when I said it would take a lot of work? And a lot of grit?
What is grit anyway?
Having grit means never giving up. It means never taking no for an answer. I means you keep going towards what it is you want, no matter what because NOT achieving your goal is simply not an option.
Grit is HUGE.
So how do you develop grit?
2. Figure out WHY
There’s a great quote that always keeps me going when I start to feel the pressure, or disappointment when I run into a setback.
“You have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard… if you don’t, any rational person would give up.” – Steve Jobs
There’s a lie in the “passion-based” business world – or at the very least, an omission. I often see these young entrepreneurs advertise their so-called hugely successful businesses from a beach or other paradise, and it makes people believe that something like that can happen easily, without doing any work.
But make no mistake; anything that is worth building, is worth sweating for.
There WILL be hard work. There WILL be failure. There WILL be times when you want to give up.
But the secret to getting back to the drawing board, is remembering WHY.
It’s the passion that fuels you. And that passion comes from loving what you’re doing, and remembering why you’re doing it.
If only I could have helped that guy remember why he loves the fitness industry, and why he wanted to do what he wanted… not that I could do that while standing in line waiting for a shawarma.
3. Give yourself permission
Permission to take a break, to pause and enjoy life.
Permission to fail.
Permission to be human.
When you’re working towards a big goal, it’s often a long-term thing, and it can get overwhelming very quickly. It’s great to set the goal, write down all the steps you’re going to take to get there, and make sure you work at it every day. But if you don’t allow yourself some time to just chill out and NOT work at it, even if it’s just once every couple of weeks, you’re going to run yourself into the ground. And then the thing that you love, the thing that fuels your passion, will become the thing you hate and resent. So give yourself permission to go out and have some fun or just do something that you enjoy that has nothing to do with what you’re working on; whether it’s meeting up with friends for a coffee or a drink, or going to a movie, or just sitting down in your favourite spot and reading a good book.
This is called self-care, and it is paramount to being successful. Sure, there’s all this other stuff about getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and meditating, but just allowing some time to be human is just as important.
Also, there’s this thing with failure.
When you first start working on something, even and maybe especially when it’s something you’re passionate about, you’re bound to fail at some part of it; or at the very least you’ll hit a wall of some sort.
Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.
Failing is not an indictment on your personality. It doesn’t make YOU a failure. Failure is nothing more than information. Now you know what doesn’t work. Figure out why, or what went wrong. If it’s something you can change, make some adjustments and try again. If it’s not something that you can change (like someone’s opinion), then activate that grit and keep pushing through until you get to the next step.
If it helps put things into perspective, remember that Jack Canfield’s first Chicken Soup for the Soul book was rejected 100 times before it got published and became hugely successful; and it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to perfect the light bulb.
Give yourself permission to fail.
4. Never give up
If it’s something you love, if it’s something you’re passionate about, if it’s something that lights you up and stirs something powerful inside you, if it’s something you simply can’t NOT do, don’t give up.
The world needs more of the best that people have to offer. It needs more of what lights YOU up; because when you’re doing what lights you up, you inspire others. And that is a powerful thing indeed.