If you’ve had a difficult and challenging life, you’re in good company. The most successful people in every area, from sports and music to business and politics, have gone down the same road you have. There is no point lamenting how hard your life has been. If you can see a rocky path as the foundation to a solid future, you’re on your way to greatness.
It isn’t easy to accept a rocky life when everyone around you has had it a lot smoother than you have. When others seem to have their act together, your erratic life feels wild, out of place and depressing. I know the feeling all too well. I quit a great career in the legal field. I went through a gut-wrenching divorce. I lost a house. I closed a business.
Life hasn’t been a smooth ride by any means, yet I’m more optimistic than ever. I’m glad so much failure, disappointment and pain washed into my life. I don’t feel that it has crushed me; in fact, it has prepared me for my greatest days ahead.
Your failures are your stepping stones, no matter how difficult life may be now. How many of these hardships have you gone through in your life? The more hardships you’ve experienced, the more fuel for your journey to greatness. Here are 11 ingredients for living a life of greatness.
1) You fail often.
You’ve continued to fail personally, professionally and even emotionally. You’ve done things the wrong way. You went against your intuition and your heart. You started the project incorrectly. You didn’t put enough effort into the last venture. You partnered with the wrong people. Maybe you went to the wrong school, or entered the wrong profession or wrong trade. You ask yourself why you’re such a failure when yet another thing goes wrong.
2) You take risks others don’t.
When others see fears, dangers or uncertainty, you go forward. You started that business. You went for the promotion. You asked her out. It’s not that you’ll always win, but you’ll keep trying. You’re willing to take the risk even when you fail because you know the only failure is not trying. Instead of playing it safe and staying stuck in your comfort zone, you do what others don’t.
3) You’ve felt deep pain.
You’ve likely had deep emotional pain growing up. Maybe your family life wasn’t stable, maybe your parents were particularly strict or maybe you found yourself in trouble a lot. You could have moved and had to start over in many different cities. You could have had a difficult relationship with your grandparents, siblings or even parents. An ex could have broken your heart so badly that you were stuck in heartbreak for years. You know what it’s like to feel a heavy and deep pain that lingers. You move forward and live your life, even with a heavy heart.
4) Your life isn’t a straight path.
You’ve lived in multiple places, had multiple professions, gone through many jobs and continued to have changes in your life. Some of the changes were of your choosing, but many of them you had no control over. Often, you felt like a feather blown in the wind. You’ve had to adapt, make changes, learn new places and meet new people. You’ve had to let go and start over when it felt like you had just started over. You desire a deep a sense of calmness and continuity, but life has been one adventure after another.
5) Your life has been a struggle.
It wasn’t a straight line and it wasn’t easy. You’ve faced hardships, challenges, failures and life circumstances that you could do nothing about. You were born to the wrong family or grew up in the wrong part of town. You faced struggles with finances, struggles with relationships or struggles with knowing what to do with your life. Every time you tried to get ahead something seemed to pull you back. Your beliefs or thoughts always sabotaged you every time you were on the verge of doing something greater.
6) People don’t believe in you.
Even the people who are supposed to love you or who are your friends doubt you and don’t support you when you go after your dreams or pursue your passion. They don’t want you to fail or suffer and would rather discourage you so that you won’t go forward. They can dream with your or be bystanders ““ it seems like they want to crush the dreams you’ve envisioned. They doubt that you have the ability or skills to do what you desire.
7) Others have criticized, ostracized and laughed at you.
With every failure, misstep and disappointment, the people around you seem to push you down further instead of giving you a hand up. Growing up, you might have heard that you’re not worthy or not enough. You may not have been in the “in group” or the popular crowd. You seem to be marching to your own beat and others not only stay away from you but make fun of your path.
8) People have broken your trust.
When you thought that someone would always stick with you and be there for you during the ups and downs, you find out that the person you trusted has jumped ship. Or maybe it was a romantic or life partner who betrayed your trust and ended a relationship. Or maybe it was a business partner who was looking out for themselves and who tried to throw you under the bus. The people closest to you have hurt you.
9) You want to give up every day.
As you pursue your dreams or cultivate your passion, you don’t think it’s worth it. You want to give up because the personal toll feels too much. Not succeeding is no fun. The struggle is no fun. The long hours are no fun. Burning the midnight oil is no fun. “˜Wouldn’t it be easier,’ you think, “˜to take the traditional path and do what everyone else is doing? Doesn’t a regular job seem more enticing? A regular life seem more comforting?’
10) The fear is breathing down your neck.
You’re always thinking about what can go wrong. You’re worried about your finances and about losing it all. You feel the fears, see the fears and go forward anyway, even when you’re on the cusp of losing it all. You take risks that others would run away from. You take a loan you don’t know if you can pay back. You’re not sure you can meet your expenses for the month. Your life feels like a roller coaster ride and you hope that you have your seat belt on.
11) You start over no matter what.
Finally, even with all the failures, risks and struggles, you’re willing to start over in life. You’re willing to lose it all so that you can start over. You know that when you have a clean slate, you can start again. You can pursue your dreams. You can go after what’s in your heart. When you’ve failed, you feel that you have permission and a renewed sense of enthusiasm to go after what you want.
What other struggles and challenges have you lived with on your journey to success? Feel free to share in the comments below.