What’s your plan? We have heard this annoying question in various forms throughout our lives. When we’re kids in elementary school, adults would ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Parents asked us this question as we tried to navigate our way through high school and college. The options for paths are limitless from being a doctor, lawyer, investment banker and engineer.
Women ask men this on dates to gauge how well they have their “stuff together”. Also to assess whether or not your future paints them a picture of “ambitious, well paid, and suitable for me.”
Throughout our lives we were always told to “stick to our plan” to achieve success.
But for many people therein lies the problem. Life is a journey – like that of an archetypal epic hero. Think back to Frodo Baggins or Luke Skywalker from the Lord of the Rings or from Star Wars. There’s always a wasteland to cross and multiple hurdles to test your strength, courage, and tenacity on your path to success.
One of my favorite quotes exemplifies this perfectly was spoken by Sylvester Stallone in the movie Rocky Balboa, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
I was inspired today to write this blog post because of Mark Cuban. Because his story represents just one of many entrepreneurs who arrived at their success by taking unconventional paths and not letting their obstacles deter them. Just a few days ago, Mark Cuban tweeted this:
At the age of 27, Mark literally had nothing left in his bank account. Whenever people would confront him about it, he never made excuses for where he was. He would merely respond saying, “Well what else could I do? I went back on the grind.”
According to Business Insider, the story unfolds where at the age of 27, His first company was doing well, and he had finally upgraded from 2-for-$99 polyester suits. He was engaged to get married, and he had just spent his entire life savings–$7,500–on a ring. But unfortunately his fiancé lost the ring in a movie theater. A couple of months later, the relationship broke up and his bank account with it. Literally, the ATM machine read $0 on his account balance. From bounced checks, a run-down apartment, and saving what little money him and his roommates could gather for rent, times were hard.
The one thing Cuban had to fall back on was his business. He rededicated himself to it. Check out his mentality during this time. It’s something we can all learn from and leverage to help us on our paths. You can read the full article.
“In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.
I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better.
Finally, I had to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself about how hard I was working. It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort.
Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did I need to do to close this account? What did I need to do to win this segment of business? What did I need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone? What did I need to do to find an edge? Where does that edge come from, and how was I going to get there?
The one requirement for success in our business lives is effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or you don’t.”
Mark Cuban underwent a series of tough times that truly tested his capabilities. When making his plans for his career, going broke was definitely not on it. But that’s how life works. It’s a series of problems that are presented to us to test our abilities to endure, survive, and succeed. Throughout this process, we become more aware of who we are and discover the world under a new light. These “unplanned” events help shape who we are and push us to be stronger and wiser as we face the next obstacle.
His story captures the essence of tenacious human spirit. It proves to everyone that you should embrace these “unfortunate events” and that although they may be crushing and painful at first, know deep down that you will rise stronger because of them. For those of you out there who are at the age of 27 or older, and thinking about finally taking that first step towards a renewed lifestyle and career, take a moment to internalize that it’s not too late. Mark Cuban did end up becoming a billionaire. There’s no reason you can’t either.
Image credit: CC by Ed Schipul