This is the best way to succeed

Failure isn’t an event; it’s a state of mind. No one is truly a failure unless they give up.

I’m not talking about quitting because sometimes you need to quit in order to succeed. Not every venture is worth your time: Sometimes you try something and you find that it’s not working, so it’s good to quit.

To “give up” or failure means that you surrender to the difficulties of life and resign to the sense that “You can’t do it,” any of it—life.

But if you’re still trying and kicking, you aren’t that. You’re just in process.

The key now is to keep at it.

Did you know that Colonel Sanders (a real person) of Kentucky Fried Chicken, didn’t start his famous “finger lickin’ good” franchise until he was in his sixties?

Yeah—true story.

Before getting in the chicken business, he worked all kinds of jobs. And he was a piece of work, ornery and difficult to deal with. He was even fired for knocking out his co-workers.

But he never gave up. He kept going even though he was older, at an age when he should have been thinking about retirement. But he didn’t retire. He fought. Not just with his fists, but he carried on with his mind, gumption, capital, life.

If you keep on living, trying, fighting, you always have a chance of climbing, growing, succeeding.

Keep that in mind and put that into practice and you can’t help but succeed.


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You can win at life by doing this

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Sometimes life is hard and feels impossible. But that’s when you should stop thinking about your life and focus on today.

Don’t try to tackle life, that’s too much to take on all at once. That’s how you get overwhelmed, depressed, worried.

Instead, just attack what you need to do at this moment: the tasks, the mico-goals, the wins (and loses). Do what you can do with what you know, right now.

Not tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade, don’t concentrate on those. That can kill you.

Don’t worry about the future unless you’re planning, dreaming, hoping. Set your big goals and big dreams.

But then, spend your time doing what needs to be done, now, to accomplish those goals.

To win in life, you need to fight today’s battles, win today’s fights.

And you’ll have a greater chance at winning in life.

The best thing about losing

Losing doesn’t just mean you’ve lost. For, when you lose, you gain.

Whenever a friend leaves, you move away, get fired, close a business, it’s awful.

We hate it. We should, because losing sucks. No one wants to have something taken from them.

But what I’ve noticed is no matter what (or who) was taken from me, I’ve always gained in place of the thing I lost.

When one girlfriend and I broke up, then another, then another, then another, time after time after time, I gained insight into who I was and who I wasn’t. I realized I was too picky, too arrogant, too something. And I saw what was really important to me and what was superfluous.

And when I moved across the country, literally, from NYC to San Diego, for a relationship that eventually broke, it made me feel like the greatest loser.

But that was right before I would meet the woman who would ultimately become my life partner, my love, my wife.

When you lose, you gain.

During one of the hardest times in my career when I got fired from the only job I was qualified for, pastoring a church, I lost big. I mean I went to graduate school for four years just to have the credentials to start this career path, this calling. So when I was terminated, I went into a depression and didn’t know if I would ever come out.

But through that, I also gained an understanding of myself and saw that God was with me and loved me even when I felt worthless. He made me worthy. And when it seemed like I was useless, He gave me a new job that eventually led me to start my own business; and I realized this was one the best things that could have ever happened to me.

When you lose, you gain.

After my father died when I was in elementary school, I raged. Life was black. Darkness swallowed me. I was lost. But now, as a middle-aged man reflecting back on those events and my learnings, what I see is this.

I don’t know who I would have become if my dad was still alive. Would I be as much of a fighter? Would I see life the way I see it—incredibly precious? Would I have been humbled so that I found faith? I doubt it.

I do know that I would have been different. And I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the person I’ve grown to become because of the pain I’ve experienced.

Of course I’m not saying that I’m glad that my dad died. Death sucks. It always will.

But my meaning is that all pain, even losing the bedrock of your family, can strengthen you, grow you, and give you something you would have never gained without that horrible event.

When you lose, you gain.

The danger of losing is that you can get lost. It’s easy to lose ourselves to bitterness, anger, sorrow. And a dark season can become a life without light, where it’s always night, without a dawn.

But it needn’t be that way.

You can learn, grow, rise—gain.

There is work, though. Gaining doesn’t just come automatically. You need to be open to it. You need to look for it. As a miner who seeks for gold must dig, you too must sift through your mind and the world to find nuggets of knowledge, wisdom, insight after you lose.

For, in the rubble of losing, there are lessons to be learned about yourself, humanity, God, life. If you look for them, you will uncover them.

It needs to be sifted away from the debris of living and pain and bitterness. And there you will see it shining before you eyes, glorious and pure—golden and true.

The way you do that is by reflecting.

Reflection is the act of looking back on particular events, thoughts, feelings, and ideas that have occurred and searching for right understanding and learnings from them.

Sometimes this takes months even years to find the goodness. The death of my father and losing my career path took a long time to play out, and I couldn’t grasp any clear gains. But, eventually, I did.

Journaling, talking to friends, counseling, mediation, and sitting there and letting your mind wander helps.

That space and time help your mind open up to make new discoveries. And what you will discover is a new day, shining brilliantly before you, and more than that.

There will be a new you.

Keep your New Year’s resolution by thinking like this

The size of your resolution isn’t what causes you to quit. It’s because you’re going too fast. If you slow down, you’ll have a better chance at keeping your resolution.

Let me explain.

Maybe you want to get super fit, or land a massive promotion, or make millions in your new business. Those are big resolutions, and that’s great. You should. That’s not the problem.

What is is this. You want results now, or tomorrow, or next week. But that’s not how you reach big goals. That’s not how it works. It’s not fast. It’s slow.

It takes time to get healthy, lose weight, gain muscle, lean out. It takes a lot of work and wins to get a promotion, land that corner office, win that title. And most businesses take years, even decades, to build.

When you rush to achieve that resolution, you will feel defeated when you don’t make the progress you were hoping for after too short of a time. Instead, you need to set your expectations rightly. Extend your timeline—practice patience.

No one wants to hear that, I know. But it is the truth. The good news is that resolutions are achievable. All of what I lined out can be done. You just need to give yourself enough time to accomplish them.

You need to slow down. Take one step at a time. Set your internal clock accordingly, and you won’t feel like a failure because you didn’t lose twenty pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle or start running a 10K yet. You can be content with making those small steps and realize that you are playing the long game. But you’re playing to win.

A lot of reaching your resolutions is in building habits. And those take more time than we’d like to admit. Wendy Wood (affiliate), a research psychologist who’s spent the last three decades studying habits, has seen that different habits take different amounts of time to codify into one’s life. The more complex an act is, the more time it takes to make a habit.

Most of us have heard that it takes thirty to sixty days to create a habit. But Wood found that simple actions like doing some pushups every morning may take that amount of time, but going to the gym and doing a series of workouts would take more, like four or more months.

Habits are powerful. I’ve seen it in my life. Much of what I do that’s good for me is automatic. Doing my workout in the morning, intermittent fasting for twenty hours six days a week, reading fifty pages a day, writing this blog post are all built into my daily routine. I do it without thinking.

Sure, fasting twenty hours every day sucks. And I want to eat breakfast with my family, but it’s a lot easier than when I first started. But when I began forming that as a habit, I fasted for much shorter periods and took my time to get to where I am now. In short, when I started, I expected less of myself.

And I think that’s where a lot of our resolutions get shipwrecked. They are dashed on the rocks of our expectations. We expect ourselves to be much further ahead than we should, and when we aren’t where we think we should be after struggling for a month, we get discouraged, deflated and stop.

Instead, take your time, but also start smaller. Take smaller steps. If I would have tried to fasting every day for twenty hours, at first, I think I would have given up and stuffed my greedy face with all of the food I could find. But, by making my goal ten to twelve hours in the beginning, I was able to build confidence and, more importantly, the habit of intermittent fasting.

As you round out the first week of this fresh new year, you can reach your goals and fulfill your resolutions, even the big ones.

But don’t go fast. Slow down and form habits.

And win.