Straight Talk on Success: Struggle, Overcoming, and the True Definition of Success


I want to ask you a couple questions about success.

First, what does success really mean for you?

For some people it’s the money, it’s the big house, it’s the fame, it’s the power. What I submit is that all those things are transitory, and if that’s what drives you, then you need to re-evaluate your definition of success and dig a little deeper inside yourself.

Few people think about what success really means to them. Instead of going mindlessly going through the day doing what everybody else says you should be doing to be “successful” the deeper question—the crucial question—is what does it really mean to be successful?

In my view, true success results in the attainment of lasting inner peace rather than the treadmill-like pursuit of the almighty dollar or things that don’t ultimately satisfy us. This desire for “goods” actually symbolizes a much deeper drive inside of you, and that’s what you need to investigate.

So here’s where I’m at when it comes to success. It starts with remembering what Buddha said: life is struggle.

To me, success is all about the overcoming of the struggles that we face in life. It’s about getting back off the mat when you get knocked down, living to fight again another day, and being resilient in the face of adversity.

Let me share a little story about my own personal experience with struggle. When I got out of the Air Force, I started The Leadership Forge from scratch. I hung out my shingle and said I’m going to do this leadership thing for the civilian world. People are going to love me, my excitement, and commitment to leadership. So “WOO! Let’s do this!”

I still am excited and committed—even more so that when I started—but it’s been a continual series of challenges, and yes, failures along the way. There have been times of discouragement where I was like, “Is this thing ever going to work?”

But you know what? Bit by bit I learned, and the most important thing I learned was to just keep going: get back up to the plate and take another swing and just believe in my mission.

I’ve bounced back from those struggles (and continue to do so) and as a result, my message has become clearer and the business has grown.

More importantly, I’ve grown as a human being.

So here’s my advice to you. Number one: remember what Buddha said that life is struggle. Number two: your success is defined by how you respond to those struggles when they’re presented to you.