The Fantastic Life

One Statement Can Make or Break Your Motivation To Succeed


True statement: The single biggest factor to success is your state of mind.  The ability to control the things you can and accept the things you can’t.  That is why we say the #1 rule for entrepreneurs is to “protect your confidence.”

We all know that things are going to happen out of our control.   The question is–how are we  going to react when they do?

In the first chapter of my book The Fantastic Life, I go into detail about a race I ran called “The Marathon Des Sables” — considered the hardest  foot race on the planet. My partner had to drop out of the entire race after the first 6 miles of the hardest stage.  6,000 miles from home, 44 miles to go in the stage, and I was alone in the Sahara desert.  I got to see how I would respond.

We all have moments that test us throughout our lives.  It is not a one-time thing.  How we respond,  the way we get back up when we fall, determines who we are.

Rule #1 from my book The Fantastic Life: Know Your Stories
Our story is composed of the moments that tested us and how we responded. Understanding your reactions to the biggest moments in your life helps you to know who you are. 


One Statement That Can Make or Break Your Motivation To Be Successful

So many people hear this statement, which is said without bad intention. Some are motivated by it, and other’s motivation gets destroyed.

By: Yoram Solomon

April 4th, 2017

In 1995 I left a comfortable job as the head of Research and Development for a technology company in Israel, to start my first startup. I had big dreams, and it took a lot of risk, which I was willing to take. Just about the same time, my uncle got sick, and was recovering at home. I took my wife and we paid him a visit.
During that visit, he asked me about my new venture, which was still in the very early stage. Then, out of the blue, he made the following declarative, unambiguous statement:

“You should have stayed with the other company, working for other people, instead of starting this adventure. You don’t know how to run a company.”

My heart sank. My wife was speechless. We didn’t say anything to the contrary, instead asked about his health, and eventually left, wishing him well. For a period of time our relationship cooled down significantly.

In his book With Winning In Mind, Author and Olympian gold medalist Lanny Bassham claimed that the biggest factor in our success or failure is our state of mind. One of the three elements important for success (at the Olympics, in business, in school, and anywhere else) is your self-esteem. In fact, he gave an example of a young girl who asked if she could take a cup of coffee to a guest at the house. He parent told her “sure, just be careful not to spill it.” Sure enough–she spilled it. Why? Bassham claimed that it was because of that statement, which now made her think only about spilling the coffee.

And thus, when someone tells you that they don’t expect you to succeed in business, or even more specifically–that you don’t know what you are doing, and that you will fail, a very distinct possibility is that you will fail, because now you see yourself failing. At least, this is likely what Lanny Bassham would say. The same is true if you told someone else that you expect them to fail.

But there is the opposite possibility, too. People are also challenged by statements like this. Being a Texan for the past 13 years, I remember reading this statement at the State History Museum:

“If you want something done, tell a Texan it can’t be done.”

I guess this statement could be, and has been used with other than Texans… After losing my first election in 2013 to the Plano school board, an Israeli friend of mine put his arm over my shoulder and said: “I didn’t want to say this to you while you were running, but I don’t think there was a way in which this very conservative city will allow an Israeli to be on the school board.” However, the words that echoed in my head at that time came from the CBS series How I met your mother, as said by Neil Patrick Harris, playing Barney Stinson: “challenge accepted!” I ran again in 2015 and won. Not only to prove him wrong, but that was part of motivating me…

There are therefore two completely opposite possible reactions to the statement “you can’t do this.” It can destroy your motivation, or motivate you to prove they were wrong. Which one is it for you?

There is not a lot you can do about what other people say to you (other than try to avoid those who are constantly negative about your efforts). However, you can do something about what you say to someone else. First of all, will that person, once you challenge their potential for success, take it as a challenge? Even then, don’t be too harsh. Say it in a challenging way. But if this is someone who could now visualize failing–don’t say it. Help if you can, get out of the way if you can’t.


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