Michael Jordan’s high-flying dunks; Muhammad Ali’s killer combinations; the amazing comedy routines of Kevin Hart, Richard Prior, and Kat Williams; the amazing literary works of J.K. Rowling (author of Harry Potter), Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games); the amazing martial arts moves by Bruce Lee; the fighting skills of UFC fighter Anderson Silvia; the amazing hip-hop talent of artists such as Nasir Jones and Tupac Shakur; the amazing movies directed by Spike Lee and Mel Gibson.
We watch clips of their performances, laugh at their comedy routines, read their works with amazement, view their moves with astonishment, listen to their music in amazement, and watch their movies with great intrigue. How did they obtain their success? How did they become so great? Many people witness these amazing feats and falsely believe that they achieved their status of greatness with raw talent alone, or because they were lucky. But the truth is that sheer talent or luck is not enough to produce such amazing results. What people don’t think about is the incredible amount of time and effort they put into it, the sacrifices they made and the struggles they endured all for the sake of becoming great. As a prerequisite to being successful, one must first identify their precise purpose in life. What is it that you believe you were put here to do? What do you want to change about this world? What do you seek to accomplish? Set clearly defined goals, and you will have a path to lead you to whatever kind of success you seek. Knowing what you intend to accomplish in life and what kind of legacy you wish to lead behind is a fundamental step to obtaining success.
Heavy-weight champion Muhammad Ali once remarked, “I hate every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” Behind the scenes, athletes put forth an enormous amount of effort, enduring extreme physical stress for the sake of bettering themselves and preparing for their future success. Though not everyone wants to be a boxer, this champion’s words of advice apply to you regardless of which field you are in. Want to get into law school? No matter how hard studying for the LSAT may be, no matter how tedious it is, if you work hard you will be able to have a career as a successful lawyer. Want to be a doctor? The effort involved and the amount of schooling required may not be ideal, but in the end, you will have a career as a successful doctor. No matter which career or other major goal you choose to focus on in your life, if you put in the time and effort required, you will be successful in the end.
One of the most famous verses in the Qu’ran is, “Perhaps you may like something which is bad for you and you may dislike something which is good for you.” If we want to be successful in our individual fields, we must remember this fundamental principle not to prioritize our lives based upon individual preferences or what happens to be convenient at the moment. Our priorities must be based on our long-term goals, not short-term pleasure. Take for example a college student who has a final exam coming up. A friend invites him to a party in which he will finally have the opportunity to talk to a girl he likes and invite her on a date. He has a decision to make. He may dislike studying, but that studying is good for him; he may like going to parties, but that may not be good for him. Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of college is not to have sex, drink alcohol, or engage in other frivolous activities, but to obtain a degree. He must realize his purpose and make the right decision.Students across America are confronted with similar decisions every day, and those who choose to engage in their studies are rewarded with academic success, among other benefits.
Muhammad Ali is also quoted as saying, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses–behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” The real parameters of success or victory aren’t in the ring, but in the amount of work put forth beforehand. It is this which is the determining factor of whether one will be victorious. Similarly, for those who want to be a lawyer, the ability to win a case is not determined in an actual court case,but in what you do beforehand, with studying and practicing the particulars of the case before you begin.
To really facilitate success, you must be disciplined and live by your own self-imposed rules. Discipline is the art of knowing what you want in the moment and knowing what you want in the future, and then prioritizing the latter over the former. Without discipline, success is impossible because temporary pleasure leads to long-term pain, while short-time pain or inconvenience leads to long-term success. Brian Tracy once said, “Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals, and then to work toward them every day, will do more toguarantee your success than any other single factor.” So we must live by our own self-imposed laws and rules. Say, “I’m going to get an A on this test, and if I don’t succeed, then I’m going to punish myself by running three miles after fajr.” Self-imposed rules are a way to hold ourselves accountable for our slip-ups and stay motivated.
But before we can achieve any success, we must really want it. One motivational speaker states, “Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad. You just kind of want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool. Most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep. Some of you want sleep more than you want success. And I’m here to tell you today that if you want to be successful you got to be willing to give up sleep.”
Also, we must learn to prioritize our time. Every moment you spend texting that girl you shouldn’t be texting, is a moment you could have spent studying logic puzzles for the LSAT.Every moment you spend drinking that alcohol and lowering your cognitive abilities, is a moment you could have spent working out in the gym to increase your athleticism. Every moment you spend you spend browsing through your Facebook page, is a moment you could have spent pursuing knowledge.
Create a schedule for want you want to accomplish before the day starts and then carry out those tasks. This will help you focus on what is most important: your long-term goals, which will bring you a lifetime of success.
Additionally, you must be yourself. Don’t care about other people labeling you as weird. If they are not afraid to smoke cigarettes in public, then why should you be afraid to pray in public? If they are not afraid to boast about having sex, then why should you be afraid to express your desire to preserve your virginity until marriage? If they are not afraid to wear immodest clothing in public, then why should you be afraid to wear a hijab? If they are not afraid to tweet or make Facebook posts of vulgar rap lyrics, then why should you afraid to quote verses from the Qu’ran? If they are not afraid to discuss mindless television shows such as Scandal or House Wives, then why should you be afraid to discuss politics or important issues? When we conform to society’s expectation or the popular trend that is going on, we are guaranteed to fail.
In order to be successful, you must learn to deal with failure. Even Muhammad Ali lost boxing bouts once in a while, but we still see him as being great. Michael Jordan missed many game wins, but we don’t even remember that. He once remarked, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” When we fail, if we view it as a minor setback, we can be objective and identify where we went wrong, and then correct ourselves for the next time. But if we give in to self-pity or view it as the end of the world, then we will never obtain success. In the song “Survivor,” Destiny’s Child sings, “I’m a survivor. I’m not gon’ give up. I’m not gon’ stop. I’m gon’ work harder. I’m a survivor. I’m gonna make it.” This is exactly the kind of attitude we must have if we wish to be successful. When we fail, we must work harder than before to achieve success the next time around. As Aaliyah once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, you can dust it off and try again.” So if we fail, the best thing to do is focus on adjusting our approach so we will be successful next time. On a related note, when you achieve success, do not let yourself become complacent; one success does not guarantee another, and staying focused is important to maintaining success.
By knowing your purpose in life, setting long-term goals, being disciplined, being yourself, and knowing and understanding failure—and how you can learn from it—you are bound to be successful and fulfill your ultimate purpose in life.