This spring, I’ll celebrate my 16th anniversary of having my Professional License for harness racing.
Getting this license fulfilled a lifelong dream for me—to be able to drive as a professional driver at the track I grew up at as a kid, Northfield Park, in Cleveland, Ohio.
When I’m harness racing and things go right, these two-minute races are the best times of my entire life. I would rather do this than anything.
It’s my purpose for continuing to work—so I can afford to feed the horses and do what I love to do. I believe everyone ought to find something in their lives that they feel this way about. I believe it gives you the fortitude to persevere when you’re ready to give up on your goals and gives you a bigger motivation for personal gain.
I had to fight hard to be able to do this. In fact, it took years of work, plenty of angst, fighting considerable opposition.
You see, in harness racing, the path to a professional license to drive is tortuous and political. If that isn’t hard enough, I had to prevail against opposition, obstacles and my own ineptitude.
I will not lie to you. There was a time I was despondent. For a few days, I was ready to give up after my provisional license was yanked a second time and I was told there wasn’t going to be a third time around.
But I continued to go for it. I got a number of top drivers to sign a petition asking the judges to give me another chance. I pleaded my case. It came down to my being willing to agree to risk it all—and agree to give up on my lifelong dream and never try to get licensed again.
Frankly, I think the overwhelming majority of people in my boots would have given up.
But I did not.
The result being, I still get to do what I most want to do.
I believe you are never too old, never too young, never too poor, never too anything to be required to give up on your dreams.
Most people who make a lifelong practice of giving up on their dreams, ideas and opportunities wind up mastering only one skill: excuse-making, so they have a long, comforting list of reasons why they have not done more with life.
I prefer achievement.
It remains the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Driving harness races has a least as much frustration as golf, with the added attractions of dirt, grime, mud, manure, snow, frigid temperatures, and physical danger. There are other obstacles I’ve had to overcome (that I won’t go into here.)
I’m extremely pleased that I did not let this dream die.
I’ve decided that THE single biggest difference between successful people and ‘the mediocre majority,’ between leaders and followers, between those who enjoy generally rewarding lives vs. those who lead mostly frustrating lives, is this…
How easily they take ‘no’ for an answer.
If you wanted to focus on the one single behavior that has more to do with success than any other, this is it.
Most people take the first “no” that comes along, in trivial as well as important matters. Somewhere along the way, people lose the ability to refuse to accept a ‘no.’
Watch a kid told “no” by a parent in a store—does he give up easily and quietly accept the verdict?
Think back to when you were a kid, asking to go someplace or to stay up past your bedtime or past curfew, when you got your first no, what did you do?
I got my first job by refusing to take no for an answer.
I got my first wife by refusing to take no for an answer.
I got my most important mentor by refusing to take no for an answer.
I’ve gotten a lot in my life by refusing to take no for an answer.
Goal-setting’s fine and useful, but what good is it if you are willing to give up on or compromise the goals you set? The real key to success is “adamant refusal.” (Tweet this!) What conditions or circumstances or limits do you adamantly refuse to accept?
You need to have your big emotional purpose that gives you the motivation to not give up…and then refuse to accept that it can’t happen.
Consider financial success? Put up a sign that says, “I’m 46 years old. I’ve got an education, a family to take care of, a lifelong dream I want to fulfill and I’m embarrassed to still be struggling and broke in this land of abundant opportunity.”
You have to identify an emotional reason for doing what you do. You have to get to the point of adamantly refusing to stay where you are and not getting what you want.
Don’t accept that you must wait for the right time…that nothing can be done…or too easily take no for an answer.
Be relentless. Keep working long after others have given up. Think about what you want and work at it every day if not more often. Call, chase down, bug, badger every and any person who might help you. Don’t give up. It can be done.
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