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.