I watched an interesting bit of a documentary the other day about Bas Rutten’s life. Bas Rutten is an early era mixed martial arts (MMA) figure and is still a notable presence in mixed martial arts today. Since MMA has become a more widespread activity he’s become a more mainstream figure as a TV analyst with a historical perspective on the sport. I thought one of the really interesting things, not to overly generalize here, is that a lot guys that are engaged in MMA at the top levels have come from pretty hard scrabble beginnings. He had a fairly similar upbringing.
What I found really interesting was when he talked about trying to figure out what he was going to do and where he wanted to end up in life. He did a lot of reading to that end and he was always interested in famous people and biographies of successful people. He said that one of the things that he realized as he read through all these stories was that there was a common thread. The thread was that all these really successful people pushed through circumstances that might have made somebody else quit in order to succeed. So the takeaway that he had and that he used to sort of shape his life around was that success was inevitable if he kept trying. If he hadn’t succeeded it was because he hadn’t succeeded yet. So he took this never give up attitude forward. He said, “You know maybe one day I’ll die trying but so far not giving up has been the key to my success.” I just thought it was a really interesting take on things.
I know that at various times in my own life I look back and think, “Well maybe in that circumstance I probably should have given up a little bit earlier,” and “Maybe I hung on too long and it cost me,” but I think that the habit of pushing through is an important one. It’s important to push through ordinary troubles and even sometimes extraordinary troubles if you believe in what you’re doing and it is worth it. I believe there is something to the idea that a lot of people that are very successful are successful on the basis of simply refusing to be unsuccessful. Of course I’m certainly not going to discount good fortune or being in the right place at the right time. There are clearly many, many, many, other factors that go into being successful.
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have worked extraordinarily hard, never given up their dreams, yet they never realized the success that maybe they wanted. There’s some part of me that wants to believe that those people, even if they didn’t reach the success that they wanted, that the passion that they had for trying to succeed carried them through the tough times. Maybe if they looked back they wouldn’t change a thing anyways. That may be wishful thinking but I’m curious what other folks think out there. I know that the “never say quit” “never say die” attitude can get you into trouble as much as it can urge you forward to success, but I’m curious what stories other people have to share from both sides of that. It was a really interesting documentary on many levels but I thought that piece in particular really resonated with me. I think I was so stuck on that part because I truly believe that a certain amount of success is just predicated on refusing to be unsuccessful.