I was in a dark place. Doubt had crept in. Worry had taken over. The future of my business was uncertain. It wasn’t the first time. It will doubtless be the last. In situations such as these, I turn to friends who know what I’m experiencing. Who have been in my position before. Who have made it through. I lean on them for support, encouragement, guidance.
It was during this time that my friend, Jari, feeling my pain, said something inspiring. He said that (and I’m paraphrasing), in any endeavor – in business, writing, athletics, entertainment, whatever – there is a filtering process. Particularly because many people want that thing. But because so many people want that thing, and only a few can have it, the majority will give up. It could be after not getting results or not meeting expectations, either way, they quit and are filtered out.
He went on to explain that, being in the filtering process, I may want to quit just like others have done at this point. And if I did, that’s it. The end of the dream. Or, I can step back. I can adjust my strategy, change my approach, reflect, do anything but give up. Do anything but let myself be filtered out. Others will quit and therefore, I must continue.
For the remainder of this article, I’ll refer to this idea as Jari’s Filter.
Not One, but Many
It’s easy to see yourself as a standalone figure. As one person attempting to achieve one thing. But if you take a step back, you see that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re more like one amongst a million, all vying for the same prize. One player fighting many others for a single trophy. It seems intimidating at first. That is, until you realize that someone has to make it. And why not you? Why can’t you be the one to bring it home? You work hard. You put in the time and effort. Why can’t you reach those upper echelons? Why do you need to be the one who gets filtered out? You don’t… so long as you keep going.
Like Jari suggested, adjust your strategy, reflect, improve, but don’t quit. Don’t succumb to the filter.
Imagine that you’re an aspiring tennis champ. You’ve trained for the last three years. It’s been a struggle though. You’ve gotten better, and your win record has improved, but you still don’t qualify for the top tournaments. Tournaments you greatly desire to take part in. And that’s frustrating. After one particularly brutal defeat, you begin to question yourself. Maybe this isn’t for me. Maybe I chose the wrong sport. I should quit.
Then, you remember Jari’s Filter.
You consider how much progress you’ve made. How you continue to get better with each passing day. Not only that, but how you’ve actually started to develop a fan base. People that show up solely to watch you. You think of the other players in the arena. Of the many that stand between you and the top. And then you think of those at the top, waiting for you to arrive. You’re suddenly filled with confidence. If they can make it, I can make it. I’m not giving up. You avoid the filter and continue to climb the ranks, fans cheering all the while.
Jari’s Filter in Practice
Let’s look at Jari’s Filter in practice. If you don’t want to succumb to it, what can you do to avoid it? Put another way, what can you do to persist? To rise above the filter? Other than relying on self-talk as in the example above, there are several things that have helped me in the past. First, have friends that know what you’re feeling. If you’re a volleyball player, it’s making friends that are also volleyball players. If you’re an author, it’s making friends with other authors. On days that you’re feeling down, they will know your specific pain and will help you work through it.
Now, you may be wondering: If I make friends with people in the same space as me, won’t I be befriending my competition? Technically, yes. And that’s fine. Share what you know. Support them as they support you. Grow together. And then, when you make it to the top, they will be right there with you, sharing in the glory. After all, they’re not the real threat. The real threat is the voice inside telling you to quit. And with their help, you’ll overcome it.
Second, read books and stories about people who have struggled and overcome. I find biographies to be particularly rousing in this case. A few that come to mind are:
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
- Bonus: Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell
Third, luck and serendipity. I know it’s not actionable, but it has helped me move forward in the past, therefore I should mention it. While I don’t recommend you “pray for a miracle,” weird things do sometimes happen. Case in point, as I was melting down this time around, I received an email. It contained good news. Nothing insane, but news that was strong enough to change my attitude. In fact, by the time Jari told me about the filter, I was already in a better state of mind. His pep talk then helped to seal my choice that much more.
You can’t count on coincidence to save you from the filter. However, if you’ve had experiences like mine, you can remind yourself that good things can happen at any time. That is, so long as you’re still in the game to receive them.
Evoke Jari’s Filter Moving Forward
When you next find yourself down and doubting, remember Jari’s Filter. Realize that you are at a point where others quit. And if you don’t want to be one of them, you must press on. How you decide to do that is up to you. For me, I rely on:
- Positive self-talk.
- Friends who know what I’m experiencing.
- Books on people who have struggled and overcome.
- The notion that good things can happen at any moment.
Strife is inevitable. Whether you quit because of it or see it as a story on your road to success is on you. In times of uncertainty, evoke Jari’s Filter. Remind yourself that if this is the point where others give up, this is the point where you must persist.