If you have made a mess of your life in the past, you are in good company. Thousands of successful people have embarked themselves on dead-end projects leading to catastrophic losses. Failure is always a discouraging experience, but wise men never view it as the end of the game.
Doing more with less all over again
They take some time to rest, regroup forces, and gather
resources for their next venture. The consequences of dead-end projects
are rarely lethal. Entrepreneurs that incur losses see them as the price
of pursuing their dreams. If they suffer damage to their reputation,
they pick up whatever is left and move on.
People possessed by
doubt quit when they encounter difficulties. In contrast, individuals
motivated by strong desire cannot imagine a life a passive acceptance.
Both types of persons may advance at the same speed for a while, but
only the relentless reach the end of the path.
persistence, like any other conviction, cannot be purchased with money.
We know that personal psychology plays an important role in how actively
people work at improving their lives, but we still ignore the precise
mechanics of motivation.
Why do certain individuals develop
extraordinary drive and exploit possibilities to the maximum? What makes
other persons in similar situations waste their lives and resources?
Biographers of high-achievers tend to agree that ambitious goals open
the door to excellent performance.
While indecisive people move
at random, determined individuals walk as fast as they can in their
chosen direction. While weak companies spread their resources too thin,
strong enterprises concentrate forces on their most profitable markets.
While the members of one group hesitate, the others are already
half-way. Their final goal makes all the difference.
The life of
French writer Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) offers a fascinating example
of the role that strong motivation plays in success. It took him 14
years of continuous failure before he actually wrote a book that sold
well. During that time, he cumulated business disasters and incurred
such enormous debts that he was obliged to hide from creditors.
Let yourself be driven by your desire to achieve
desire to become writer grew slowly during his time at school and his
experience as an employee. In his youth, he laboured for two years as a
clerk at a notary office, where he learned to draft marriage contracts
and property mortgages. Balzac was 20 years old when he decided to quit
his job at the law firm and devote the rest of his life to writing.
a long discussion, he managed to convince his father to grant him a
small allowance for a year. That was the time that Balzac had allowed
himself to write a brilliant novel that would immediately propel him to
the highest echelons of literary fame.
During those initial 12
months, Balzac produced two appalling books which were quickly
forgotten. A long string of poorly crafted novels followed during the
next years; none of those earned him sufficient money to break out of
In his late twenties, Balzac contemplated his massive
failure and resolved to abandon his ambitions. He told himself that he
had done his best, but that becoming a writer was too difficult. Would
he not rather make a fortune in business and later, when he was free of
material concerns, return to literature?
attempts soon ended catastrophically. He borrowed large sums of money
and established himself first as a publisher and later as a printer, two
businesses about which he knew little. Competition was hard and Balzac
lacked the experience to run such operations with any chance of success.
How to face disastrous losses successfully
brought out books that did not sell and saw financial losses
accumulate. In less than a year, he had wasted his complete capital and
was obliged to shut down his business. His dreams of prosperity were
shattered; his personal debts, astronomical; his prospects of turning
around the situation, negligible.
Psychological misery followed
financial ruin. For an extended period, Balzac spent his days feeling
sorry for himself and hiding from creditors. He was so poor that he only
escaped hunger thanks to family and friends. They provided him a roof
over his head and helped him regain his self-confidence.
healing took place slowly. Eventually, his pride returned to his
previous size; his ambitions were rekindled; his persistence was reborn,
stronger than ever before. He announced to his family that he was going
to retake his literary career and that, this time, he was not intending
to stop until he had attained popularity and sales.
Have you ever been told that you have no chance of winning?
When he told
them that he was willing to do whatever was necessary, his declaration
was met with scepticism. Had he not tried to become a writer for longer
than a decade? Had he not failed completely at every attempt?
nodded, smiled, and replied that he had conceived a plan that would put
him on the map as a writer. His past novels had been dead-end projects
composed without grand ambitions; his future works would form a
collection integrated by a single idea, a final goal, a fundamental
Popular success came to him in 1833 and continued for a
good part of his life. Balzac baptised his collection of novels La
Comédie Humaine, which grew to encompass 95 books. At several times in
his career, he played again with the idea of acquiring a business and
living a different life. Fortunately for his readers, he stuck to his
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