The proven strategy for persevering and following your dream

One of the toughest things for us to do in life is to admit when we’re wrong. My Mom would tell me growing up, her father — my grandfather — used to say, “It takes a big man (or woman) to admit when he/she is wrong and apologize.” Many of us are often wrong and don’t even know it. Or worse yet, we do know it and we continue to plod on, committing deliberate actions that hurt ourselves and others.

But what about when we’re right?

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When we’re right, there are really two options. We believe we’re right or we don’t. Dig a little deeper and you’ll understand the essential difference between these two outcomes: Believing we’re right and acting accordingly is what will make us great. Doubting ourselves while acting upon the right thing is perhaps the most dangerous, self-inflicted damage we can do to our psyche.

Clearly, we’re working on getting to the right mindset and doing the right thing. Easier said than done, right? Not really. These two things require the two qualities that are always within our control: attitude and effort. It’s here that we develop the realization that we have the power to move forward. That we actually can create our own destiny. This is the best strategy and mindset to adopt to get what we want in life.

Your Personal Story

One of the toughest things I’ve ever wrestled with as a human, business professional and writer, was believing that other people cared about my personal story. It took me a long time to realize that others did. Part of it was fear of the unknown. I might be rejected. Others might criticize me! Oh, the horror.Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Or does it? Because I’ve found that’s the problem that so many of us have. We create this chasm IN OUR MINDS that putting ourselves out there — in whatever we do — is so difficult, purely because we fear what others might say.

That’s the excruciating damage of self-inflicted negative thinking. It is insidious, destructive and limiting. It blocks us from a path that is likely the one we are meant to travel — whatever our occupation, passion or interest is. The power of putting ourselves out there, telling our real story and feeling confident doing so, is one of the secrets to living a purposeful life.

While the local and national news paint a picture of dread, despair and angst, the truth is that the world and its citizens — the vast majority of them — are kind, loving, empathetic people who care about others.

I’ve found that many of the people here in the Medium community are precisely such people. I’ve been blessed both digitally and in person to meet some extraordinarily caring, genuine people in my life that have taken an interest in me.

I’ve learned through networking (Yikes, that ugly word!) that taking a chance on a conversation with someone will bring happiness, new ideas and fun to our lives. We have the opportunity over a cup of coffee or meal to genuinely show an interest in getting to know others, while they do the same with us.

We get to put our ideas and stories out there in public, to hopefully gain some new supporters and believers — people willing to go to bat for us as we pursue our dreams. It’s this first step that is absolutely essential to building and persevering in our strategy and continuing to follow our dream. Without this, without believing in ourselves and taking a chance, we cannot live the life we want.

The Fountainhead

I want to tell the story of the great author, Ayn Rand, and her effort to publish her bestselling novel, The Fountainhead. As a matter of fact — I was further brought to read her novels by many of you who commented on my post about the 15 books that helped to shape my mind.

Ayn Rand’s classic, The Fountainhead, was rejected by a whopping 12 publishers before the Bobbs-Merrill Company decided to take a chance on this, “unsaleable and unpublishable,” book. At least those were the famous last words of one mighty foolish publisher.

12 rejections

What mattered and helped Rand’s cause was an inspiring review from the New York Times:

“You will not be able to read this masterful book without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our time.”

If only we all were so fortunate. Yet words like those tend to be gifted toward individuals who create art that transcends their time and generations thereafter. From there, the flight of The Fountainhead was airborne, and as the word of her book spread across the world, people began to read and become inspired by her empowering themes of individualism and objectivism.

Staying the Course

When you believe in your idea and back it with faith and unrelenting persistence, you find that rejection is in fact your best friend. I’ve come to believe that rejection is the ignition to start fine-tuning our lives and guiding them toward the direction that our heart is leading us.

I thought about these things as I wrote my book, The Value of You, over the past year. There were moments of doubt, just as there are for even the world’s most confident and accomplished people. But what made this book possible was my willingness to publish on this awesome platform, and to put myself out there. I first wrote only for myself. Over the last several years, I put myself out there and I began to thrive. It’s made all the difference.

I’m soothed by the lack of reception — initially — that Ayn Rand dealt with for what became one of the most enduring classics of the 20th Century. There was no immediate success to be had. Rather, disappointment. However, that disappointment was met with an open-armed embrace of taking up the gauntlet and continuing on because she knew she was right.

She knew her book was special. She believed that if she stayed the course, she would indeed be rewarded.

Getting the Right Results

Being right and knowing you are right coming primarily from four things: research, observation, validation of others and intuition.

As you see in the quadrant, I believe the optimal state is to have a strong, believing mindset that is backed up with the most constructive actions. What is most damaging, I’ve found, is to do the right thing yet believe that what you’re doing has all been in vain — that you’re wrong and worse, that doubt and fear begin to creep in.

I’ve found that actions can often easily be corrected but attitude adjustments are much harder to make. Changing our attitude is frankly, a matter of willpower. This requires breaking down and beating old habits that have discouraged, distracted and prevented us from our potential.

It’s very difficult to turn things around when the breaks haven’t been going our way — or when we haven’t yet found results in whatever endeavor we have chosen. While it’s certainly teetering on the border of danger when you’re doing the wrong thing but believing you’re right, it’s simply easier to correct those actions through observation and study.

That’s what great mentors, teachers, coaches and influencers are for. Seek knowledge and wisdom from those who are in a position to help and are willing.

For all of us, our goal should be to move to the “northeast” part of the quadrant where our actions are in line with the positivity of our attitude. Strong conviction does not equal stubbornness. Strong conviction and belief in yourself equals faith, which begets patience, persistence and perseverance.You’ll never just be able to get by with only a positive attitude.

You must back that with an intelligent, industrious work ethic that consistently approaches each day with optimism, anticipation and a refusal to compromise.

Go “All In”

It pains me to see people on the right path who lack the conviction because of fear of the unknown. I can sense it immediately because I spent so many years of my life with this mindset. Call it “youngest child syndrome.” Call it an overly fearful view of the world mixed with trepidation about what others might think.

Call it what it is and then stop making excuses. Know that when you go “all in” and put yourself out there, the world doesn’t seem so scary. It’s invigorating, actually. You learn the proven strategy of believing in yourself and persevering by taking a chance. If you never take a chance, you’ll never know. But if you have the courage to move forward, you’ll begin to live the life you’ve always wanted.

Value Yourself!

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This article first appeared on Medium