Simon Ekin

Why breakdowns are essential to success

Obstacles along the way

Often when we are in breakdown, we look at successful people and wonder how they did it.

The truth is, many successful people took a long time to get there, and not without their fair share of failure along the way.

Consider the following examples:

  • Henry Ford’s early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the Ford Motor Company.
  • When Jerry Seinfeld first walked on stage at a comedy club he was jeered and booed off.
  • Before JK Rowling became the phenomenal success that she is with her Harry Potter books she was severely depressed, divorced and virtually penniless.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his bestselling book Outliers – The Story of Success, talks about the 10,000-hour rule. In a nutshell, research has shown that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become masterful at something, irrespective of the particular field.

So consider that every breakdown that you encounter is an opportunity for you to keep learning and acquiring mastery.

Success will come; what success is really about is stumbling from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. (Attributed to Winston Churchill, but no proof exists.)

A note on success:

To me it’s about self-acceptance, setting my mind to something and being committed, yet unattached to the outcome – which is a lot easier said than done, like most things. I experienced this when cycling through Africa. The success was cycling 13,000km’s over a period of 14 months. The ‘failure’ was that I was forced to abort and fly over Algeria, which I viewed as an abject failure at the time, but what I now see as an essential part in getting my partner and me home as I may have died in the desert as I had malaria at the time.

Why, “What about me?” is a rotten question

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

Don’t we so often get so stuck, absorbed and over-interested in ourselves? What we want, what our purpose is, how we can make money, what’s my legacy?

What about asking a different question? What if we were to ask, ‘What does the world want from us?” Or, “what were we put on this earth to do?”

It’s like the difference between seeing the world through our own eyes, and then having a transformation where we view the world from the world’s view.

I was chatting with a good friend and I asked him this question. He runs a retail business and is really, really good at it. He didn’t hesitate for a moment, “To encourage others.” I was moved to tears in a moment. Why? Because that is exactly my experience of him. He is one of the most selfless, caring, loving human beings I know. I know he got the power and clarity of his answer too.

What came to me the first instant I asked this question was, “to connect with people.” That has evolved to, “to influence, inspire and enable people to unite, connect and celebrate our shared humanity, rather than focusing on the differences that separate us.”

What’s yours? I’d love to know.