5 Lessons of Success I Learned by Chasing My Dream

Photo: JenavieveMarie / Creative CommonsThis past year, I launched a business. I'd long suffered from undependable willpower that showed up in my life via yo-yo dieting and an overenthusiasm for wine as a stress-reliever. Once I got clear on the underlying causes of my struggles and how to solve them, I knew I could help others get to the bottom of their own issues; thus The Monarch Company and my signature program was born.

Leaving the salaried life of the corporate world was a scary undertaking, and I learned a lot as I went into business for myself. Here are five things I learned this past year as I chased my dream and entered the world of entrepreneurship. These lessons apply to any endeavor we undertake in life.

1. Embrace uncertainty.

A lot of people, my past-self included, confuse employment with stability. I used to think that as long as I worked for a large, stable company and earned a good salary, that my needs would always be taken care of. It's easy to confuse personal financial dependence on a company with stability.

Here are some of my experiences over the life of my career as I worked for world-famous media companies:

- During the dot com boom, my division was spun off into a start-up that went bankrupt.

- I worked for a boss who was a generous mentor, but he was fired and replaced by a vicious boss who bellowed obscenities in the faces of her cowering employees. When it comes to the Boss Lottery, you win some, you lose some.

- Fearful of layoffs at one company, I fled to another that appeared more stable, only to be laid off.

These were some of the experiences that informed my decision to strike out on my own. Now I recognize that no matter where or how I work, whether it's for a company or for myself, I'm comfortable with the fact that I don't know what's going to happen next. But I do know that, as the owner of my own company, I won't spin myself off, I won't turn into a malicious tyrant, and I won't fire myself.

Even though I'm gleefully in charge of every aspect of my career, I've learned to get up close, personal, and comfortable with uncertainty. Now that I'm out on my own, I'm completely responsible for my personal financial success and stability, which, depending on the day, can feel daunting or comforting.

2. Have faith in a friendly universe.
Those daunting days aside, ultimately I feel confident that if I do the work, I'm destined for success. All I can do is be prepared - which I've done by creating a valuable course - and have faith. Since I can't predict the future, every day that I remain self-employed is a leap of faith that I'm doing the right thing by using my talents in service to other people, and that I will be rewarded for bringing my work to the world.

Albert Einstein said, "The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe."

I decided to believe we live in a friendly universe, one that supports our efforts to help others make the most of their lives. I have faith that if we have a struggle and we find a solution for ourselves, we're rewarded by making that solution available to others. Faith that everything is going to turn out okay motivates me to keep working, growing, and helping others succeed. A happy law of my friendly universe is that helping others to succeed fuels my own success.

3. Learn from failure.
In the past year, I've made a few mistakes as I got my business started. Each time this happened, I learned what not to do and I've been able to move in new directions that have turned out to be better than the old paths I tried to travel.

In the book Business Brilliant, Lewis Schiff writes about a secret self-made millionaires know: failure is necessary for success. Self-made millionaires look at what they can learn from their mistakes and then they get back to work on whatever it is they're trying to achieve. Members of the middle class, on the other hand, try to forget everything about their experience of failure, and then they go do something else altogether.

Now, I'm certainly not a self-made millionaire, but I will say that owning my mistakes, learning from them, and coming out stronger for having had the experience is really the breeziest, easiest, most growth-orientated approach to failure I've ever tried.

4. Perseverance equals success.
I think the reason self-made millionaires value mistakes is because they know that as long as they keep plugging, they will succeed. Of course this doesn't mean they keep sinking resources into a failing venture; they know when to cut their losses. But an event such as a failed venture doesn't drive them to retirement. Instead, they learn and they parlay that experience into a new venture.

Perseverance is like having a combination of faith and determination. In order to persevere, you must have faith that your efforts will be rewarded. So many people quit on what could have been the eve of their success. There is almost no such thing as an "overnight success." Most people who succeed plug away for years and years, persevering, driving around obstacles, learning from mistakes, adjusting their course, and by being so prepared, they are eventually rewarded with a "lucky" break. But they earned that luck by having faith, learning from mistakes, and persevering.

5. Do what matters.
Most of us are overwhelmed on a daily basis by the sheer number of options and demands on our time and attention. What should we eat, where should we work, which project at work is the most important priority, how should we raise our kids, what should we wear, what kind of entertainment should we consume, and what kind of exercise or hobbies will be the most fulfilling use of our free time, should we have any left over.

However, when we get clear on our values and what's really and truly important to us on a "death-bed" level - what actually counts in the grand scheme - it makes most of these decisions clearer.

Where does my energy count? I have a billion different things I could work on in a given day, but what matters is what I want to be doing. It occurred to me recently that I could create a whole mess of products and maybe I'd make more money in the short term. But that's not what I want to be doing because I believe that I already created a product that deserves time, attention, and support. I have clients who deserve time, attention, and support. Connecting with people is important to me. Sitting alone in a room, remaining unconnected to others while I crank out products for sale is not important to me. So it's clear to me, based on my values, where my energy counts. And by investing my energy where it counts, I will be rewarded with more success over the long term.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "We judge of man's wisdom by his hope." Once we get over the idea that we're in complete control and that we can predict the future, a world of possibility opens up. When we do the work that actually matters to us and have faith that our efforts will be rewarded, we can move forward in life confident that we're supported by a friendly universe. If you follow these five principles, when you least expect it, you might just get "lucky."

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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