Success has no excuses

But it has a friend who awaits more quietly: choice.

In each moment you can choose an excuse—they're readily available, cheap, and eager to be used. Excuses don't care. They'll let you sacrifice the potential of today for the regrets of tomorrow.

Or you can choose the work that you know needs to be done today, the work that will move you towards whatever you want to achieve. Choice is your friend because it asks for nothing in return, only that you're willing earn what you want.

"The truth about the process of earning—not winning, not arriving, but earning—success," Darren Hardy says, "that process is in itself very mundane."

When the process is mundane, it often doesn't feel perfect.

But it doesn't have to be perfect, it can simply be the next thing you do.

And when you're done you'll need to do it again and again and again.

It's not enough to choose once. That amazing thing that you define as success must be earned. The change you seek must be earned. "Do not stagnate too long in your victory because you can never own success: You can only rent it. And the rent is due every single day."


What are kids really good at? Kids are really good at failing. Of course they're not trying to fail. That's not their intention. Their intention is to succeed. But they can't succeed. They can't succeed until they fail enough. And their brains know this, their brains feel it. So they fail anyway. They do their best even when their best won't be good enough, when it won't get them to where they're trying to go.

Ananda drew me a picture the other day. It's a picture of 75 small circles (I counted them). There isn't a single perfect circle. In fact, many of the circles don't even have ends that meet. They're failures. Each one an attempt to draw in one smooth motion a complete circle, and each one a failure. But she drew them anyway, without hesitation. I watched her. Circle after circle after circle. Failing, but repeating each attempt without hesitation, without frustration.

There is so much beauty in this lesson, so much wisdom. It feels hard to grasp the universality of it. Children fail regularly, so they learn and grow and get better, regularly. But as they grow older, they grow more afraid, more unsure, more critical of themselves. The hesitation sets in. They learn slower, and slower, and slower. Instead of growth being self-directed and self-motivated—instead of it being fun—it becomes occasionally motivated by the dread of an external event that might cause more discomfort than the potential failure.

For Ananda it wasn't 'failure'. For her, it was play. It was having fun. It wasn't painful, it was enjoyable. She didn't draw 75 failed circles, she drew 75 shapes that looked like circles so that she could give them to her daddy. Her goal wasn't perfection. Her goal was to try, to make an attempt, and to have fun doing it and then to be happy with the result. Her goal was simply to do something, to take the idea and add action to it, to start and then to finish. To start, and then finish.

Kind of like drawing a circle.

Rewrite Your (Failure) Story

When thousands of people began reading what I was writing, I got scared. Each day I looked for more ways to reassure myself that everything I did would lead to a little more success, that each step would be safe. Eventually, I got so scared of failure, so scared of 'losing it all', that I stopped risking failure altogether.

It took me a long time to figure this out, and it seems so obvious to me now, but you cannot have success without failure. Success is achieved by overcoming failure. You can't have one without the other. The more that you try to avoid the risk of failure, the more you avoid the potential for success.

Here's something else I realized: a 'success story' is just that, a story.

There's nothing special or magical or mysterious about success. It's a story. It's a recollection of a specific series of events that follows the hero's journey, a common template that stories have been following for thousands of years. It involves 1) facing a challenge, 2) choosing to accept the challenge despite the risk of failure, and 3) overcoming the challenge.

A failure is just an incomplete success story.

A failure is one of the steps on the way to success. It's a toddler falling down on her way to running, the scale not budging on the way to getting in shape, and the frustration of inadequate knowledge and experience on the way to achieving a dream.

There are so many success stories and so few stories of failure because failure is a story that we don't want to hear (and because it's only part of a bigger story—it's an incomplete success story). Failure is a painful thing that reminds us that success requires work, that it requires effort. A story about failure reminds us that our work and our effort might not get us to where we're trying to go, that getting to where we're trying to go might require more work, and more effort.

The narrative of your life's story is controlled by what you choose to focus on. Reframe your story by consistently focusing on the positive, not the negative. Focus on the potential for success, not the risk of failure. Tell yourself a different story. Is there a chance you'll fail anyway? Sure, but focus on the positive! What positive thing might come out of failing? Focus on that.

If you choose to focus on the negative, all you'll see is negative. If you choose to focus on the risk of failure, all you'll see is failure. That's how stories work. Whatever part of the story you choose to focus on becomes your reality. It becomes your story.

Remember, you don't need to have a perfect record. You only need to show up more times than you don't.

So show up. Rewrite your story.

Stepping into the Darkness

Himalayan Mountains, Nepal 2010

With each step, the ambient light from the house dissipated. The ground was cold and my eyes strained to see where I was going. I dared not turn around or look up, too afraid that doing so would cause a giant creature to materialize from the darkness and swallow me in one gulp.

I was nine years old and although I had long since overcome my fear of the darkness inside the house, the dark forest surrounding the yard still held me hostage.

It was holding me prisoner, preventing me from exploring those places that my siblings wouldn't dream of going. I wanted to take that next step. I wanted to conquer darkness altogether.

One evening, without telling anyone in the house, I opened the back door and stared into the forest. The darkness was incredible. It shrouded everything in mystery, turning the daytime-yard that I was so familiar with into an unknown world of terrifying possibilities. Continue reading

Fear of Failure as a Barometer for Success

Fully loaded soda bottle truck in Kathmandu, Nepal

"Fear of failure is a ticket to mediocrity. If you're not failing from time to time, you're not pushing yourself. And if you're not pushing yourself, you're coasting." - Eric Zorn

That quote came across my screen after having spent almost twenty minutes aimlessly passing time on Facebook. I suddenly realized that for the past few weeks I haven't been pushing myself or risking failure. I've been coasting.

Case in point: I wasn't going to publish anything on this blog today. I had already decided that my next post would be on Friday. It was easier that way. I had no idea what to write and I was relying on inspiration to strike at some point between now and then to write a great post.

The truth is that ever since releasing my first ebook and visiting the schools in Nepal, I've felt the pressure from my inner perfectionist to continue outdoing myself. Continue reading

Why There Is No Secret To Success

Success is one of those things that just about everybody wants, but not nearly as many people do what it takes to achieve. It's the expensive sports car, island home, or supermodel body that never goes any further than the thought that originated the idea.

It's the reason why so many people search for a "secret to success"; they want it, but they're afraid of what it might take to get there. They're looking for an easy path; a magic pill that will solve all their problems along the way and give them what they want with minimal effort. Continue reading

What does it mean to be successful?

Success isn't something you can frame on the wall. It's not something that you can attain once and then discard as having accomplished it. It's not a level of achievement or an objective. It's not a social status or the amount of money in the bank. It's not how many languages I can speak or how many businesses I have founded.

For me, success means two things occurring simultaneously in the present moment:

  1. Doing everything that's possible to work towards my goals
  2. Being happy

If we're happy in the present moment, we are successful.

If we're doing everything that's possible in the present moment to move towards our goals, we are successful.

The goal I'm working towards in the present moment might be as simple as "getting ready for the day" or "making breakfast". It might be "finishing a blog post" or even "pumping gas so I can get to work".

Whatever my goal is in the present moment, if I'm accomplishing everything necessary to reach that goal and my mind is happy and at peace, then I feel successful.

To be successful we need to break free from the idea that success is a mountain that must be ascended. We must realize that success is what we make it. If we choose to make success unattainable, then it will be unattainable. If we choose to realize that nothing can stop us from reaching our goals, no matter how far-fetched, then we have already succeeded.

Success is being able to manage our mind under all circumstances.

The day that I considered myself to be successful was the day I decided that nothing was going to stop me from achieving the craziest of my goals. - Earl Baron

But what if you don't have any goals? In that case your goal should be to free yourself of anything that might be preventing you from discovering your purpose -- from discovering the life you want to live.

If you're content just living, just being, that's a goal too. Striving for freedom from pain and ignorance is an excellent way to live.

Success is the complete eradication of ego, because ego is the only thing that stands in the way of my absolute freedom from pain and ignorance. - Jai Dev

Success is a frame of mind and a way of thinking. It's not a destination or an objective.

Success is knowing what's possible, not just believing in it.

Success is purposeful action in motion.

What does success mean to you? What does it mean to be successful?

This post is part of a unique project organized by my buddy Jonny from to put together a free ebook about success. Jonny asked 30 bloggers, including myself, for their personal definitions of success and how they achieve it. He then requested that we write a blog post about success to announce the free book and create a flood of inspiration around the topic. This book is totally free and full of inspirational perspectives on success. Download The SUCCESS eBook.