Envy Persistence, Not Success


Tom Corley boats - crop

When you think of entrepreneurs, what images immediately pop up in your mind? Do you see bold, courageous, fearless individuals, confidently moving forward, with little to no doubt that success is just a matter of time?

Or, do you see someone swimming in a sea of doubts, uncertain if they will be able to make payroll, or up all night worried about an impending deadline that could make or break their company?

Consider Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. At the end of 2008, Musk and all of his companies were on the verge of bankruptcy. His Falcon 1 rocket had failed to reach orbit for the third time in early August, 2008. He had to scramble to secure outside financing just to get him through 2008. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, going through a divorce, and everything hinged on a fourth Falcon 1 rocket launch on September, 28 2008. If it too failed, SpaceX was done and Elon Musk would have lost all of the $100 million he had invested in SpaceX. The rocket didn’t fail. It reached orbit. He succeeded. But the intense emotional stress was almost unbearable and nearly broke him mentally.

Consider Steve Jobs. By the end of 1994, things were looking bleak. He was five years removed as Apple’s CEO. His $10 million Pixar investment had run up another $50 million in debt. Pixar was burning through $1 million a year. His personal fortune was dropping like a rock from $107 million in 1985 to $24 million in 1994. And, worse, between NeXT and Pixar, they would need an additional $60 million a year just to stay in business. Everything seemed to come crashing down all in one year. We all know the fairy tale ending, but, for Steve Jobs, 1994 was a make or break year. The stress and pressure he faced, at the time, was crushing.

Consider billionaire President Donald Trump. In October of 1989, three of his key senior executives, who ran his casino empire, died in a freak helicopter accident. Within two years, three of his casino’s would have to file for bankruptcy protection. His entire financial empire was crashing down on him in 1992. For Donald Trump, 1992 was a year not to remember.

Thirty-four percent of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study failed at least once in a business venture.

The fact is, most entrepreneurs who pursue success, have either had to endure long periods where everything they worked so hard to create was on the line, near collapse or had collapsed. Being an entrepreneur is often like a walk through a hell – one hurdle after another, one let down after another, one disappointment after another, one rejection after another or one cash flow crunch after another.

What keeps entrepreneurs in the game is their belief, faith or passion for what they are doing. They simply love what they are doing and believe in their cause. That belief, that passion, is the only shield they have, defending them against the trials and tribulations that is the journey most successful entrepreneurs must endure.

The next time you see a successful entrepreneur, pause and consider that that individual very likely spent much of their entrepreneurial life walking through hell. Don’t envy their success. Instead envy their ability to endure the journey. Envy their persistence.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Carnell Tate says:

    Thank you for sharing this article with us! I feel like I’m working through hell right now trying to keep my head above water, and I need to take a lesson from tycoons and titans who have learned to persevere in the midst of challenges and obstacles.

  2. Really?! You’re holding Trump up as an example?? He used bankruptcy filings as a strategic business practice and is notorious for ruining small businesses by failing to pay them.

    Please unsubscribe me from your list. Your credibility and my respect for you was just shot.

    • Lisa, clearly you hate either Trump or Bankruptcy Laws, or both.

      Hate is a Poor Habit. Successful people control their emotions. They do not allow Hate to control them, to blind them, because toxic emotions like Hate prevents learning and growth.

      Lisa, at the end of the email you received on this post, should be an “Unsubscribe” button. Just click on it and you will be removed as a subscriber. Best wishes.

  3. Superb article and insights! This “persistence” lesson is not unique to business and can be equally applied to relationships, fitness or any other critical component of what one defines as “success”. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Tom, just what I needed!!! I’m getting ready to launch a huge program and I’m having some sleepless nights. So, it’s encouraging to read about the successes and failures of the titans of our time. Keep the great blogs coming. I’m new to your blog but have enjoyed everyone so far. Your book was really fantastic too.

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