Lessons learned on the road to success

From the time that I was four years old, I knew that I wanted to someday build a successful business. I wanted to be rich, and I knew that working for someone else would not get me there.  

However, I had no one to guide me in what to expect or in how to prepare myself for what I would encounter along the journey. Nobody I knew had a successful business. As a result, I tended to quit on my dreams long before they had a chance to take root, sprout, and bear fruit.

Here are five lessons in perseverance I learned along the road to turning problems into profits:

“Success is never closer than when the temptation to quit is strongest.” – Brandy M Miller

Don’t quit tending the garden of dreams

I was working in a kindergarten class and the teacher wanted to let kids see how a pumpkin seed grows. She took a damp cotton cloth and put a pumpkin seed on each cloth, stuck that cotton cloth in a plastic baggie, and had the kids wear the baggie for the next ten days. Their body heat provided warmth and it created this miniature greenhouse effect.

I watched in amazement how quickly the seeds actually began to grow – growth that I’d never witnessed before because it was all taking place beneath the soil. The roots began pushing out within a few hours of having been given water to grow, but it was a full ten days before the first bit of sprouting began to happen.

The seed of any dream may start tiny, but the process for growth is always the same. The roots have to grow first before the evidence of growth, the sprout, can get the support it needs to spring up above the soil and start making itself known to the world.

From the time of sprouting to the time that a plant bears fruit depends upon the seed. Some seeds sprout up quickly, bear fruit quickly, but die off quickly, too. Other seeds may take years before that first fruit is seen, but those are the kind that last a lifetime if cared for and will bear a faithful and reliable harvest year after year.

However, to get from seed to root to sprout to fruit, the dream seed must be tended daily. It isn’t enough to drop that seed and expect it to grow on its own. It needs to be fertilized and weeds kept from it. It needs to be watered and protected from scorching heat or late frosts. It also needs to be guarded from parasites that might latch onto it and sap it of its nutrients and strength.

Success is never closer than when the temptation to quit is strongest

It was the summer before 6th grade and I was on a mountain backpacking trip that I worked all summer to earn. They took us to Pikes Peak. I wasn’t used to climbing mountains or hiking, especially not with a backpack on that weighed about as much as I did.

An hour and a half into that journey, I was ready to quit and give up. I wanted to go home. Fortunately for me, I had a guide there who told me I couldn’t turn back and I couldn’t give up. She told me to take a few moments rest and then get up and give it another go.

To my shock and amazement, the campsite appeared just about 15 minutes ahead on the trail. I’d nearly quit before reaching my goal because the road was steep, I was tired, and I couldn’t see how close I was to success!

Pride and Shame will encourage me to quit if I listen to them

Later, I was in junior high and I’d joined track and field. They’d put me in a quarter-mile race and I was literally a few feet from the goal. My lungs were burning and so were my legs.

Other girls were faster than I was and I felt I had nothing left to give. I literally walked off the race track. My attitude at the time was that if I wasn’t going to finish at least third, there was no point to finishing at all. I was too proud to accept a lesser place.

Imagine: I was just a few short feet from the finish line – and I quit.

When the coach rebuked me on Monday morning for quitting so close to the goal, I quit track and field, too. I was ashamed of my failure and too proud to admit that I was wrong. I let pride and shame lead me to give up.

Resistance is part of the process

Many times I would have a business idea and I would get excited about it and start to implement it and then I would meet resistance. Someone would tell me no or discourage me from pursuing my idea, and I would quit. I would start to doubt myself, my confidence would waiver, and I would end up abandoning the project.

I didn’t know that resistance is how strength is built. If someone goes to the gym and gets a personal trainer, the first thing that trainer is going to do is put them on a machine that offers their muscles lots of resistance. It is fighting against that resistance that causes the muscles to break down and then build back up stronger than ever.

That resistance isn’t fun, and it doesn’t feel good, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Over time, I’ve come to realize the same thing is true about any area of life. Resistance is needed to build up the strength to grow to the next level.

Destruction must come before construction can begin

There were so many times that I would set out to pursue a dream only to find my life falling apart around my ears. I could not understand it. Everything and anything that could get in the way of me doing what needed to be done would come up.

I would lose family or friends. I would lose – sometimes – my place to live or the vehicle I relied upon. I would have some giant bill come up that drained me of money, or I would be forced to make a move that literally cost me everything I had. I would become depressed and soon I would let that depression lead me to give up on my dream. I thought if it was causing me this much pain, it must not be meant for me.

It took me a long time and a lot of years to realize what was happening: Destruction must come before construction can begin.

My life before the dream came along was never great. It was comfortable enough, but it was the same kind of comfortable that living in a shack that’s situated on an acre of land would be. Sure, I might technically have everything I needed – but the roof leaks when it’s raining and the plumbing breaks down at least as often as it works, the lights are constantly shorting and there are drafts that ensure I was either baking or freezing most days.

Now along comes a contractor who sees my situation and promises to build my dream house for me. All I have to do is trust in that contractor. I sign the papers, promise to trust Him, and then get mad when His first order of business is to evict me from the shack along with all of the things I own!

I keep trying to get back into that shack because I’m comfortable in my discomfort. The longer I take to leave that shack behind, the farther behind He falls in His construction plans.

Eventually, I am forced out of the shack and then I get mad because He demolishes it. I give up on the contractor and I look for a new place to live, meanwhile He’s still back there building that mansion He promised me. I’m just not there to see it happening.

I wised up eventually and learned patience. I discovered that if I would trust the Contractor, the process went a lot faster and smoother than if I fought Him every step of the way.

Trusting the Process

I eventually came to realize that the trials and tests that come on the road to success are not there to harm me or to stop me. They are meant to shape and form me into the person I must become to achieve those dreams. 

Everything that’s happening to me right now is being allowed for me to transform me into the person I must become in order to take my place in the Heavens and shine like the star that I was made to be. Darkness is the canvas upon which the stars shine the brightest, and it is that shine that helps others to be able to find their way.

Above all things, I know better than to quit on your dream. My dreams were given to me, and me alone, for a reason. I am the only one who has what is needed to fulfill that vision and make it a reality.

Don’t Quit!

If you’re struggling right now, just know that I know how painful it is and how scary it can be and how discouraging and defeating it can feel. But I also know that you have what it takes to make it. What you are going through now is meant to shape and form you into the person you must become in order to make that dream a reality. It’s all part of the process. Shine on, my star! Shine on.