“Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.
I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them.
That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”
Love is quid pro quo. Like a lighthouse, you give out the energy you get back.
We can toil in obscurity for years before we get a lucky break. We can also give up and accept that it isn’t meant to be.
But something happens when we feel like a complete failure. We start to simplify everything — what we own, where what we do — and get back to basics.
Defeat offers its own beneficial limitations. It pushes us to play with what he have and stick to the belief in our art.
When JK Rowling hit her lowest point — divorced as a single mother on child welfare with no published books — the only thing she knew was to keep writing. As she said in her Harvard commencement speech:
“I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.
Even when the publishers rejected her, she kept on and wrote even more. She leaned in on the process of showing up every day at the cafe and getting to work.
Failure can either be deemed temporary or definitive, depending on how we frame it. But with the right mentality, we can leverage the foundation of rock-bottom to help us limit our choices and persist.
When you aim for the donut hole, you’ll certainly miss it. The obsession with victory backfires. Says Olympic biathlete Clare Egan on hitting the last of five targets:
“‘If I hit this, I’ll win the gold medal’ — as soon as you have that thought, you’re definitely going to miss it. That extra push or desire to win is not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive. You have to eliminate that from your mind and focus on the task.”
When you compete against others, you also impede your ability to get the job done. Says Egan:
“I think such a big part of this is focusing on what you are doing. You have to let go of how everyone else is doing, and focus on your own work.”
The lizard brain wants you to compete out of fear. The monkey mind wants to you to assay your inner monologue. Ambition trips you up.
The mental game is just as important as the physical one. Focusing on process rather than pursuit may give you a better chance at achieving victory.