“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
Let me tell you a story. It is a story of pure and utter defeat. It’s one filled with pain and resentment and guilt. In this story, our main character is taken from failure to failure. Both in his personal and professional life. Nothing he seems to do ever works out. In fact, it all just falls apart day after day after day. And this doesn’t happen for lack of trying. He tries. He gives it his all. But it doesn’t seem to pan out. It never seems to go his way. And one day, after a string of failures, he comes to the end of his rope.
He gazes off the side of the cliff. Looking down, he takes a step forward, teetering on the edge. It’s the end of the line. No more chances. No more opportunities. Absolutely zero chance to survive. But somehow, some way, through the grace of God, he backs off. He doesn’t jump. Even though every last fiber was screaming for him to let, go he didn’t do it. Was there a rhyme or a reason for it? How did he find the courage to continue? How did he locate the strength and the will to survive after so much had been decimated in his life?
I’m not sure how I did it. But I’m here, talking to you. And that is what counts.
Finding The Courage To Continue
You see, in life, or in business, sometimes it’s difficult to find the courage to survive. It’s hard to find the will to live when so much has been falling apart all around you. How do you gather the strength when the demons have been summoned to burn you asunder? When death is knocking at your door, how do you turn him away and tell him that you’re not ready to go just yet? I often wonder about this. I wonder what saved me. How did I make it? Everything was in shambles. Everything was falling apart. But somehow, I put one foot in front of the other and I walked.
It felt like an eternity back then. I didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t think I would be sitting here writing this story, relating this journey to you. I was so close to the end. I had written the last chapter and was ready to close the book. But God wasn’t done with me yet. He wasn’t ready to let me throw it all away. There was a reason for my existence. It wasn’t just to be there for my family who would have clearly been distraught by my death. No. It was something more. Something far deeper than that.
Today, looking back, I cannot tell you precisely what it was. I can’t explain where the energy or the wisdom came from. All I can say is that it happened through God. It happened because I was meant to be here. It happened because I had the courage to continue just one more time. And you know what? That’s all it took. It just took that one more time to keep going. Somehow, some way, I had managed to burn every last bridge on the way down. There was no one to blame. Only myself. But I was also the only one who could save me.
How do you find the courage to continue? Especially in the face of great defeat. Is it easy? No. It’s not. I wouldn’t sit here and presume that you think it is. And that’s certainly true if you’ve recently lost all hope in life. That’s where I was years ago. I know the pain of living in that place. And I don’t wish it upon anyone. But there is a road back. One where you can find the courage inside of you. It’s there. But it’s hidden. Deep down inside, somewhere, some how, you can tap into it. Is there a magic formula to do it? No, definitely not. But it certainly is a very real possibility.
Step 1: Dig Deep Into Who You Are
Want to find the courage to continue in life or in business? The first step is to dig deep. I still remember very clearly when everything fell apart. I remember staring out and gazing towards the city from my perch high up in a sky rise, wondering what it was all for. I guessed I had come to the end of my life. I didn’t want to continue. I truly didn’t. But I dug deep. I thought long and hard. I went back and rewound all of my actions, replaying them in my mind. I looked for clues and for hints along the way.
While doing that, I discovered a pattern of self-sabotage. I realized that I was doing it to myself. For whatever reason, I had repeated these actions again and again. It was part of who I was. Ingrained into every fiber of my being, it was like a skin I just couldn’t shed. But in that discovery process, I became brutally honest with myself. When you can do that, you can reach deeper understandings about life and its meaning. You can also come to certain realizations about your own behavior. It’s tough and it’s painful. But it is necessary to helping you find the courage to continue.
Step 2: Make A Pact With Yourself
Once you uncover the truth, you need to make a pact. You have to make a personal promise. Agree to change some type of behavior. There’s something holding you back and if you’ve discovered the truth, you need to agree to make a change. That step is vital. You can’t move forward without it. What change will you promise to make? What pact will you enter into? This is a decision only you can make. But if you want to keep fighting the good fight, you can’t expect to do the same thing again repeatedly and get different results. In fact, that is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
So make a pact. Write it down. Go into acute detail about it. What will you change? How do you promise to live your life differently? It’s part of the process and you can’t go forward without making a drastic change. For me, I realized that I was defined by the acceptance of others. And by continuing to party and surround myself with the wrong people, I was making big mistakes. It was wrong. And I went into a downward spiral because of it. But I made some big promises to myself and swore to live my life differently.
Step 3: Use The Micro-Changes Approach
Change is not easy. It takes serious effort. It’s a dramatic departure from who we are as individuals. Yes, all activity is learned. But it’s also hard to unlearn. That’s especially true when you condense the timeline. So how do you make a change that you’ve promised to make? How do you go about doing it? You see, courage comes from your ability to make a decision, but also to follow through with it. You can’t have the courage to continue if you’re stuck on changing behavior that isn’t helping you progress forward in life.
So you have to use the micro-changes approach. It just means you need to do something small and do it repeatedly until you build it up into a consistent habit. It’s the easiest way to make a change into who you are as a human being. And it’s not hard. It just requires consistent effort. For example, if you smoke cigarettes, you have to cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke by 2 cigarettes per week. Just two. Until you can kick the habit. You have to be conscious of this, but habits that require physiological change are hard to alter.
Another example is this. Let’s say you promise to work out every day. But you can’t go from zero to hero. You’ll never stick to working out an hour a day if you start from square one. You need to build this up slowly. All you have to do is begin somewhere. Go and walk around the block one time every single day. Just once. The next week, walk around the block two times. But do it every day. The following week, three times. Or, wake up 15 minutes early the first week. Then, another 15 minutes earlier the next week. These are micro-changes. They’re easy to do because they don’t require much effort. But over time, the results are big.
Step 4: Break Through Your Fears
Courage is built up over time. You can’t find it overnight. But one way you can find it is to break through your fears. You can do this slowly. For example, if you are so afraid of picking up the phone and cold calling people in sales, how do you do it? If you’re deathly afraid of speaking on the phone, first off, sales is not for you. But let’s just say you’re afraid of it. You’re self-conscious. Or, you have a fear of rejection. How do you break through that fear? When you know that doing a certain activity will move you closer to your goals, yet you’re frozen by fear, what’s the path forward?
Here’s what I do. I pick up the phone and I call someone and I practice. I role play. If I know that I have to do this, that’s where I start. I do 10 or 15 role playing experiments, then I pick up the phone and call a stranger. Again, micro-changes. If you’re afraid of public-speaking, do it in front of 3 people first. Get up in front of your family and practice every single day. But do it, every single day. Repeatedly. Without fail. Don’t skip a day. Then, grow the group. Work your way up to speaking in front of 10 people. Then 20. Then 30. Then 50. And so on.
Once you start doing this, your habits take over. It becomes easier to speak. You forget about the fear because you kick into an autonomous mode. I remember when I used to be afraid of posting on social media. Then I started to do it little by little, and over time it escalated. Same thing with podcasting. If you haven’t heard my podcast, you should go listen to it. But, keep in mind that I was terrible in the beginning. I was deathly afraid of doing it and putting it out there. I didn’t want to be judged. So I started small. I spoke into my phone and recorded it. But I did it repeatedly until I built the courage to do it legitimately.
Step 5: Envision Using Future Jumps
If you listen to my podcast, I talk repeatedly about future jumping. What is it? It’s a way to envision your future. Why is this important? All reality is based on our thoughts. No matter who we are or what we do, everything starts and ends with our thoughts. If you don’t feel worthy of something, your actions are going to dictate it. If you feel mentally depressed, you are going to walk and talk like it. You’ll be slouched over with your head down and speak in a monotone voice. You’ll dress a certain way and groom yourself in a certain way.
However, when you future jump, you envision a different reality. You attract the results you want. It starts with the courage to do this, but ends with your ability to actually deeply envision a different future. For example, if you want to be a multi-millionaire, you need to think about what that looks like. Where do you live? Where do you work? What do you eat for lunch? How do you travel? And so on. You need to make decisions based on this future version of yourself. How do you talk and act and think like? What do you focus your time and your energy on?
This might seem foreign to you. But it’s the best way forward out of any situation. No matter how dark or bleak it might seem right now, future jumping can help you to solve just about any situation over time. Keep in mind, this is not a magic pill. It doesn’t happen in one day. It takes repeated effort. You have to keep envisioning and future jumping. Then, ask yourself repeatedly, is this what the future version of myself would do or say or go? You need to become that person. Align your thinking and your emotions with this future version of yourself and you’ll achieve anything you put your mind to.