05 January 2017

Without Struggle, There Isn’t Success

Those of you that have been following my writing during the past year have surely realised that there are two topics that are recurring and that gets my heart racing. How to create great user experiences and freelancing. But to be honest, it’s not really freelancing that’s my true calling – it’s finding a way of working that suits you. For me, that happens to be freelancing, but for you it’s surely different in many ways. All that really matters is that you find ways to enjoy your life by working in a way that suits you through the creation, and use, of products that feel natural to you. We all deserve to have these great user experiences in all aspects of our lives.

Finding a way that suits you can prove to be difficult for you and sometimes even provocative for others. Lately, I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. You can read the first chapter for free on his website.

Without struggle, There isn't success

There’s one part of his book that has stayed with me as I’ve been thinking about why I decided to start freelancing. The question that Marks asks is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Too often we’re asking ourselves the other side of that question; what do you want in your life? And we answer things like, “I want to have a job that I like. I want to have a great family. I want to be happy.” While that’s really cute, it doesn’t really mean anything.

“People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.”

The same thing goes for businesses and digital products. Unless you’re willing to take a gamble – to risk it all – your chances of succeeding, to be polite, are slim. Most people want the reward, not the struggle. They want the victory but they’re not interested in fighting the fight. They want the success of Uber, but they’re not interested in the long hours, the endless iterations, and the political struggles.

Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.

Apple’s success the past 15 years are largely because of the struggles they’ve taken on. The struggles of not settling for whatever the rest of the industry is doing. Always pushing further. The removal of the headphone jack is a great example of a fight that Apple decided was worth the risk. Surely things would have been “easier” by just keeping the 3.5 headphone jack as it has been around for decades. Call it ‘Courage’ or whatever you want, but they chose that struggle.

John Gruber on episode 177 of the Talk Show:

“This is why Apple has had long-term success. They’re not afraid to do things that will draw criticism but are the right thing to do.”

So as we’re at the start of a new year – what are you willing to fight for in 2017? What struggles are you willing to take in order to achieve success?

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