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Success Comes From What You Do

I’ve seen the same phenomenon in the business world.

It’s true in and out of the gym. I’ve known many athletes who had incredible genetics but still didn’t make it to the IFBB. The reverse is also true: Many who have stood onstage at the IRON MAN Pro, the Olympia and the Arnold Classic had less-than-astonishing genetics but worked hard with what they had. 

I’ve seen the same phenomenon in the business world. The one who becomes successful isn’t always the smartest or most gifted; it’s the one who puts in the effort.

Let me share someone’s life history with you—adapted from The Inner Game of Training by Robert Koppel and Howard Abell (McGraw-Hill, 1994):

At the age of 21 he failed in business.

At the age of 22 he lost a state legislative race.

At the age of 24 he failed in business again.

At the age of 26 his sweetheart died.

At the age of 27 he had a nervous breakdown.

At the age of 34 he lost a congressional race.

At the age of 36 he lost another congressional race.

At the age of 45 he lost a senatorial race.

At the age of 47 he lost a race for vice president.

At the age of 49 he again lost a senatorial race.

At the age of 52 he was elected President of the United States.

The man was Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln is an example in perseverance and determination. He may not have been the smartest or best-looking man of his time, but he certainly used what he had and didn’t give up on his dream. I kept this time line of Abe Lincoln’s life over my desk for many years to help me through some tough times.

How about you? Are you willing to pursue your life with passion and purpose? Success isn’t elusive; you just need to put in the effort required so it doesn’t get away from you. Go after success. Chase it down until it is yours. IM

Editor’s note: John Rowley is a peak-performance coach, speaker and author. He owned the gym where some of “Pumping Iron” was filmed and was one of the youngest senior vice presidents in Manhattan real estate. His new book, Climb the Ladder of Success Without Running Out of Gas, has just been published. To contact him, write to [email protected], or visit him at and sign up for his free newsletter.

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