The biggest challenge of life is the challenge of choice.
Or, as Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
Succeeding, therefore, requires harnessing our thoughts and choose the side of the fence on which all things are possible.
Choosing to believe that any one thing is impossible puts us on the wrong side of the fence, where failure resides. Thus, choice is revealed to be a double-edged sword.
Indeed, there is inside each of us a flame of passion, and whether or not it consumes us in a hellfire of doubt or fires us in the direction of our dreams is purely a matter of choice.
And the choice – to succeed or to fail, to walk on water or to sink – is ours.
How To Succeed No Matter What
1. Recognize that nothing is impossible…seriously, though.
Nothing is impossible. As soon as you start truly believing this, succeeding becomes infinitely easier.
Thomas Edison insisted, “We only know one-millionth of one percent of all there is to know.” From that extremely limited vantage point, how can anyone say with any certainty that something is not possible?
Related: 5 Laws For Doing The Impossible
The only conclusion that can truly be drawn is that it hasn’t been done…yet!
Imagination catapults you beyond what is known to the side of unlimited possibilities.
The first step, then, is to recognize the importance of the word “yet,” in terms of opening your mind to possibilities instead of keeping it shut down in impossibilities.
2. Focus on winning…not on just not losing.
If your main objective is to avoid failure, then you’re doing it wrong.
If the focus is on failures – even on its avoidance – then you’re not truly focused on the goal.
Related: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Fail
Playing not to lose is not the same as playing to win. When one plays not to lose, fear/doubt is the focal point; conversely, when one plays to win, one is focused on a successful outcome.
The next step on the road to success is to shift your focus away from what you don’t want to happen and onto what you do want to happen.
3. Get rid of your comfort zone entirely.
Comfort is the enemy of the open mind. Nobody was comfortable when they were achieving something great.
That’s because when you are comfortable, you drop anchor in the status quo. Life is easy when you’re dealing in what you already know and what’s already been done.
Life is also boring that way.
In his book, For the Love of the Game, Michael Jordan, acknowledged by most to have been the best basketball player ever to play the game, said that through all the accolades he earned, through all the championships he led his teams to, through all the most valuable player awards he won, he never stopped trying to get better. He never was satisfied.
He never dropped anchor. He kept his sail set for the far horizon…the unknown.
4. Open your mind as much as possible.
The mind is like a parachute: it has to be fully open in order to function properly.
Sadly, however, the choice for most is to stay grounded on the comfortable side. And who needs a parachute on the ground?
Indeed, choosing to believe that something is impossible is a sure sign that your mind is shut down and, consequently, not functioning properly.
Remember just because something has been thought or done a certain way of a thousand years, and just because people in positions of authority say something is true, it doesn’t mean they are right.
When you open your mind to all things being possible, you are opening the gate to the side of unparalleled success.
5. Focus on the task at hand.
I have been asked many times to speak to elementary, middle school, and high school students.
As a result, school administrators and teachers have gotten used to seeing me walk into their schools and classrooms carrying a ten-foot long, two-by-four beam on my shoulder.
During my talks, I lay the beam flat on the floor and challenge the students to walk its length without stepping off.
Every student proves to me how silly the task is – sometimes hopping across, skipping, walking backwards, or even doing cartwheels to demonstrate how ridiculously easy the challenge is.
Then, I suspend the beam across two desktops, and I ask them to walk the length of the beam.
Again, they chuckle to themselves at the ease of crossing from one end to the other without falling off, although they are not quite as brazen in their skipping, hopping, and back-stepping.
Finally, I tell them that I’m going to place the beam across the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado, which is 1,400 feet above the ground below, and I ask them if they still want to walk across.
Suddenly, the task that they’ve proven to me and to themselves to be well within their capabilities is not possible. No one will volunteer to do the simplest task of putting one foot in front of the other, even though nothing about the actual task has changed.
Whether the beam is flat on the ground or suspended 1,400 feet above the ground, the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other to get to the other side has been proven to be quite easy.
So, what has changed? The focus, or mental aspect: when the beam is flat on the ground, the students chose to focus on getting to the other side without falling off. And they did.
When the beam is 1,400 feet above the ground, the students chose to focus on falling. And they couldn’t take the next step forward.
Succeeding requires you to focus on your steps—not on falling.
Succeeding requires one main thing: focus. Success begins and ends with a singular focus on what you want to happen. If that focus shifts, however, onto worrying about what might go wrong or onto hoping to avoid a negative event, then the negative event itself becomes your “goal.”
Reel in your anchor, open your mind, and keep your sail set for the far horizon. You will not fail.
Tom Cladis is a Christian, a writer, provocateur, free-thinker, thrill-seeker, adventurer, warrior, and certified alligator wrestler, who challenges everyone he meets to open their minds and free themselves from all self-imposed limits. He likes to jump – off of cliffs, out of hot air balloons and airplanes, and off the edge of all that is known into the In his day-to-day life, Tom is Vice President of Institutional Services at Gill Capital, and he publishes a daily newsletter called “The Midnight/Morning Rider.”
Photo by Martin Neuhof