First, let me explain why this post is all about how determined are you to succeed?
The topic of last week’s blog ‘How you can develop your personal brand in five easy steps’ stirred lots of debate primarily driven by the question ‘What are people saying about you when you’re not in the room?’
Whilst some of the conversation banter included characteristics which I most definitely couldn’t write about here(!) the majority of the debate was asking ‘what would you WANT people to be saying about you?’
Which leads me back to this post and the question ‘how determined are you to succeed?’
You see, determination and your will to succeed kept getting mentioned time and time again as a winning trait. A trait people wanted to be known for. And it came down to this. Your personal brand is practiced not so much in words but as in attitude and actions. And determination is certainly not an attitude you can ignore.
Without determination, grit, perseverance – whatever you want to call it – you won’t go far. Obstacles, challenges, people and life events will block your path – some intentionally and others by accident.
That resounding determination, that self-belief to keep going, pressing forward towards your end-goal comes from within. How determined are you to keep going?
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get backup’ Vince Lombardi
One of my personal favourite stories to demonstrate this is that of Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone, the man who gave us Rocky, Rambo, and a number of the most celebrated movie characters of all time. Stallone not only played the eponymous character in each of those movies, he also wrote every script and directed some of them.
Today he is Hollywood royalty; a man whose name opens doors and who commands respect.
But life wasn’t always so kind to him. His slurry speech and droopy visage are the result of a forceps accident at birth, and though they’ve become trademarks for him, they were extremely challenging obstacles for a younger Stallone.
His parents fought, he spent part of his childhood in foster care, and was expelled repeatedly from schools as a result of what was deemed a difficult attitude.
In later years, having turned his hand to acting, he found himself constantly rejected causing him (thankfully, as fate would have it), to turn his hand to writing scripts. Not that it helped him at the time. His scripts initially received no greater enthusiasm than his acting attempts and he and his family lived in poverty, struggling even to find enough to eat.
Then one day in 1975, Stallone saw a boxing match on TV between Chuck Wepner and the great Muhammed Ali, in which Wepner took a major battering but kept coming back for more. It was just the underdog story Stallone was looking for, and he began to dream up his signature character: Rocky Balboa.
Twenty-four hours of focused writing gave him the script that is so beloved today . . . but once again, absolutely nobody wanted it. By this time, he was so poor he had to sell his best friend . . . he stood outside a liquor store with his beloved dog and offered it for sale for $50, giving him some very temporary relief.
And then it happened! Or almost, anyway.
The poor, hungry, desperate Stallone was offered a massive (for its time) $100,000 for the script, potentially solving all his problems in one fell swoop. He insisted that he wanted to play the role however, and when they declined, this man, with his back against the wall, turned it down. Yes, you read that right.
A few weeks later, they came back with a higher offer. He insisted once again that he act out the role and once again, the offer was rescinded. The offer came back again and again, and eventually topped $400,000, but Stallone refused to sell it unless he could also play the part of Rocky. Eventually, the investors relented but with one very stiff caveat: they would offer only $25,000 if Stallone played the lead role because they didn’t want to take the risk. He accepted and went straight back to the liquor store to reacquire his dog.
I know, you’re thinking that this can’t be real, but I assure you it is. Wait for it though, it’s going to get even crazier.
Stallone waited outside that liquor store for three days before he saw the guy who bought his dog. He offered him $150 for it. The guy declined. He offered more and more and more, and eventually he offered the guy $15,000 and a role in the movie. The guy and the dog are in Rocky.
The following year, 1977, Rocky won the Academy Award for best picture and at the awards ceremony, Stallone read out all the rejection slips he had received. The film cost $1,000,000 to produce. It grossed $225,000,000 at the worldwide box office.
Stallone’s story is one of outrageous levels of commitment to his dream, vision, and goals and of pure grit, determination and will to succeed. You can make your goals a reality, depending on how strong your will & determination is to do so.
The strength of your determination is what will move you towards your end-goal.
There are many stories of successful people who started out with nothing or very little but they were all determined to succeed in their chosen field.
Think of a time when you were able to accomplish something that wasn’t so easy to do. How were you able to do it? What did you do differently? What made you keep going? That, right there…. is determination in action.
I love the saying if Plan A doesn’t succeed, remember there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. Just keep on working through letters B-Z if you have to.
Whilst the journey along the way or even the end result may not have been what you originally had in mind, you got there in the end, on the path you were supposed to be on.
If you feel like you’re struggling at the moment or things are feeling ‘heavy’ and your determination levels are not where they need to be, remember these tips;
1. Don’t give up – obvious I know but you don’t know how close you are to where you need to be. It could be just one more ‘setback’ away.
2. Be thankful for the ‘No’s’ as they are getting you closer to your ‘yes’s. Why – because it’s creating clarity and passion in what you’re doing by either helping you hone and polish or dig a little deeper. The ‘No’s’ are getting you better at what you do, preparing you for the ‘yes’s’.
3. Whatever your end goal, break it up into manageable steps. Take the small successes as they come, you’ll draw on these as you hit your next challenge.
4. Be prepared for set-backs, in fact, accept they will happen. Remember Vince Lombardi’s quote “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get backup’
5. Keep your vision and end-goal in mind, whatever it may be. This is driving your will and determination to succeed.
If this post resonates with you and you’re kicking a$$ out of your challenges, setbacks, or obstacles then I think you know the answer to the question how determined are you to succeed? You can safely bag this as a winning trait of your personal brand!