The year was 1999 and things were not going according to my mother’s plan.

Her only son was still in University (that’s what we call ‘college’ in Canada) at the age of 24 and when he spent the summers at home working in a factory to pay for his schooling, he would often stay out at the local bars until 3 or 4 in the morning, sometimes three nights in a row.

Not only was he not living up to her dreams, she was worried that his behavior would lead to her worst nightmare, that her boy would end up drinking himself into irrelevancy like his father.

She didn’t have a lot of faith in her son’s choice of schooling, either. At this point in her life, the only other Kinesiology graduate (my degree) she had ever met was the latest worker on the factory floor where she had been an office administrator for over 27 years.

Was this the fate of her son as well? Earning $12 an hour in an unsure industry, one that could be struck by sudden layoffs?

These thoughts terrified my mother. She was almost certain that I had wasted four years and tens of thousands of dollars getting a degree that would lead me back to the factory.

But that was her nightmare, and her nightmare only.

I knew everything was going to workout just fine.

Why?

Because I knew. I just knew.

I never, ever, not for a single second, ever-ever had any doubts about my future. There were ZERO self-limiting beliefs in my mind.

When no one else believes in you, sometimes you have to go it alone.

When you truly believe in yourself, sometimes you have to go it alone.

Some of the most memorable success stories in history have had to go it alone.

Back when I started McMaster University, I had full intentions of becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the NHL. Not your average plan for a high school kid, but it required a specific plan that I stuck with for the next six years, first acquiring my Kinesiology degree, then my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist designation, and finally a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology.

I planned my work, and worked my plan, as Nido Qubein says.

At the same time as my mother’s nightmares for her son were growing stronger, my outlook for the future was getting brighter. I was so confident in myself that when I was 24, I sent a letter and a resume to every team in the National Hockey League, offering my Strength and Conditioning services to their athletes.

Unfortunately for that dream, they all sent back rejection letters. Letters that I still have packed away in the closet of my childhood bedroom at my mother’s house.

Letters that make me smile today, because they represent another point in my life where I overcame rejection and the fear of failure to press on towards my goals and dreams of helping people.

Fortunately, it was right around the same time I was getting ‘rejected’ that I discovered my true calling in life. It all started when I stumbled upon a website while using the computers in the Health Sciences Library at McMaster. The website I had discovered was posting fitness articles and seemed to be developing quite a following through this model of delivering great free content.

Being the young know-it-all that I was, I thought, “I can do that”, and started writing my own content for an email newsletter sent to friends, family, and colleagues. I did this all without a website, and eventually even sent unsolicited articles to Men’s Health magazine in 2000. To my surprise and delight, the editor accepted my content and I’ve been writing for the biggest fitness publication for over 12 years.

Eventually I sold my first online product via Paypal in 2001 to clients who had discovered my work through the MensHealth.com website.

And the rest is history.

But again, through this entire journey, no matter how many rejection ‘letters’ I’d get or tough days I had to endure, there was never doubt that I would succeed.

That said, there’s nothing exceptional about me.

I’m average height, average intelligence, average physical ability, and far-BELOW-average in decision-making (seriously, I’ve made some extremely stupid decisions in my life).

I suppose, if anything, I’m exceptional in my ability to persevere. To take a licking and keep on ticking.

But that’s it. Nothing else.

You are likely smarter and better looking than I am, or at least you can make better decisions.

The question is, will you have the same “never quit attitude”? Will you be able to overcome the doubts that others are trying to impose on you?

Because that is what REALLY sets the success stories apart from the folks who struggle.

The BIG LESSON is this:

The only thing exceptional about successful people is their ability to do the work.

Few success stories occur because the person is a super-genius. Almost all success stories are based on perseverance and a commitment and consistency to doing the work and believing in themselves.

As Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”

Listen, when you get started, there are always going to be what Seth Godin calls, “The Dips”.

That’s where you struggle, and that’s where some people do – and should – give up.

Yes, that’s right. Sometimes people should give up, because what they are offering isn’t right, or it’s not their passion.

But with a good idea and passion, you’ll get through that dip.

As long as you believe in yourself.

Never let the limiting beliefs of others get in the way of your success. Instead, stick to your beliefs, persevere, and never give up on something that you know is right for you.

That’s all you can do when no one else believes in you.

[Ed. Note. Craig Ballantyne is the author of, “How to Set Goals” on Amazon. This book will show you how to overcome the limiting beliefs that others – and perhaps even yourself – have about your success. This goal setting plan content is worth well over forty bucks, but the Amazon e-book is only 99 cents. Pass the links along, your friends will thank you for it. ]

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com