As you’re reading this, you may also be scrolling through your Instagram feed, looking at all the successful and fulfilled entrepreneurs and career women and men jet-setting all over the world…You may be checking out Queen Bey’s pics on her yacht parked on the Amalfi coast in Italy, or drooling over that influencer’s unbelievable wardrobe…
What your Instagram feed won’t show you though, are the less-than-perfect pictures of those times when these same successful men and women were crying themselves to sleep because of failure. When they’d wake up tired and despairing over the very existences you’re dreaming about right now. What many will not tell you is that it the average success story takes 10 years, and that the path to greatness through purpose is littered with heartache and obstacles.
No, what your Instagram feed and social media in general will tell you is that it’s easy. That you can just up and leave your job, buy a network marketing package, and achieve your wildest dreams in a pinch.
Not too many successful entrepreneurs and career women and men will tell you about the actual process, what it takes to get there, the sacrifices, disappointments and failures along the way. Yet, even more than their successes and achievements, it’s the difficulties along the journey that make the successful who they are. It’s the many obstacles that teach them to win by losing first, and to build the character needed to keep growing their empires.
I too, was very tempted to believe in all the hype around the overnight success stories of this entrepreneur, or that mogul here and there. Don’t get me wrong, it gives us hope, lets us dream, right? However, the reality of success is only “real” when you experience it firsthand.
As I, and so many others, are taking leaps into pursuing our purpose and chasing our dreams, here are some of the lessons we’re sometimes painfully learning along the way:
Failure is certain!
Whenever you embark on a purposeful journey, write down these words: “Failure is par for the course!”. If one thing is certain, it is that you will fall on your face at some point or another, in one aspect or another of your venture. It may be in a personal way, or in a business or professional way, but it will happen. So make peace with it! Actually, you should celebrate it, for it is the only way that you truly learn.
I used to think that failure was shameful and an indication of weak character. What I’ve learnt, and know for sure, is that failure is necessary and vital to the building of a strong character. The best lessons are acquired through failure. The strongest characters are formed in the midst of failure. It’s only when you fail, and get back up, that you internalize the lesson and dare to apply it. It’s only in the face of failure that you dare to go against the grain, leave behind what others will say or think of you, and move forward.
Failure is training ground, it’s a blessing in disguise. So don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t work, it means you’ve just learnt another way that is not effective on your way to uncovering what really works for you. Those who never fail, never learn, and you’re not one of them.
Lots of work, little pay!
That paycheck that drops every two weeks in your bank account as a trade for your time and effort? It doesn’t drop when you pursue your purpose in business or in the career of your dreams. What drops is a lot of sweat equity that you pay forth in advance, in exchange for rewards that may take longer than expected to arrive.
Many an entrepreneur or successful woman or man, has been homeless, had their lights cut off or their belly going hungry. They may not share that part of their journey, but what is sure is that they have paid a lot up front for dreams and aspirations that have only manifested way down in the road.
Very few will understand your journey
If you expect the world to share in your purposeful journey and get you, you’re in for a surprise! Very few will grasp your vision. Most will actually reject it, deny it, and try to shut you down in the process. It’s normal, the vision was given to you and no one else. It has to be birthed through you, by you, and no one else.
Don’t blame others, even your close friends and family, when they don’t support your vision. Many times, they simply don’t see it. Other times, they may refuse to give you the credit because as human beings, we get threatened by the ambitions and the desires we ourselves couldn’t bring to fruition.
Growth requires mourning (and sacrifice is only valid when you have other options)
Pursuing your purpose as you’re building your empire, toiling at the career of your dreams, or just being more of who you were created to be, will require you to grow. You cannot have what you have not grown to be able to have. Neither can you maintain what you haven’t built the character to keep.
Your purpose through your business or career will ask of you to address those areas of your life and character that need to elevate. As you work on yourself, you will lose parts of yourself that are no longer serving you. You will also lose people whose part in your journey is over.
It will cause you to mourn and bury the dead things in your life and on your path that you no longer have room for. As your capacity to expand and create something larger than yourself increases, you will need to make room. And the process of making room will also cause you to mourn what you have to let go.
Sometimes leaping is the only option
Many times, we want to pick the safest route. Keep a foot in at the job, and another building our legacy. Or staying in the defective relationship, as we pretend to work on ourselves. We build compromises that won’t let us express the breadth and width of our capacity.
As you follow Purpose, sometimes leaping into the unknown will be the only option. The true measure of sacrifice only comes alive when we have other options. When there are other alternatives in front of us, but we decide to follow the straight, narrow path instead. Sometimes, the only way to do it is to jump and work at opening the parachute on our way down.
Success is sweet, sour and lonely
How do you define success? Is it the bright, glaring light of Oscar ceremonies and red carpets? Is it the personal fulfillment of running your own race? Or is it laying on the beach in Rio de Janeiro savoring the pleasures of jet-setting?
What many don’t share with the rest of us, is that success certainly has a good part. It also has the sour and lonely part of dealing with new demands, new commitments and new levels. It also invites new devils into our everyday lives, that we must learn to deal with while still continuing on our journey.
The timing is never perfect
It’s never going to be the right time. To have a baby, build the business, start the career, or leave it all behind and start over. There is no right time, because the time is not supposed to be right. If it were, then there wouldn’t be a cost to being all we can be? Then, we would not fail and stumble and learn and become ourselves.
8. Faith Will Take You There
Last but not least, when all is said and done, faith, this undying belief in yourself and who you were created to be will take you there, against all odds. However, faith is strengthened under pressure. It’s only though the trials and difficulties along the way that you will grow this confidence and belief in yourself, and in your higher purpose.
Keep going, sis!
What other lessons can you share about the real cost of following your purpose?
To Your Success
The Corporate Sister.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.