“Success begins with a fellow’s will – it’s all in a state of mind.”

I’ll never forget 8 year old Orly walking into school on my first day of third grade. Learning wasn’t my strong suit and so school wasn’t something I was particularly excited about. On top of that my parents were told that I needed to be placed in the Resource Room, a much smaller setting for students that had learning difficulties. Feeling inadequate as it is, being in Resource Room made me feel stupid – made me feel like a failure.

One day the Resource Room teacher walked into class and she had an assignment for us. She handed out a Poem and asked us to decorate it. So there I was, an 8 year old kid. I took the poem, glued it to a piece of pink construction paper, added a bit of sparkles and doodles. She read the poem to us and it spoke to me in a deep and impactful way. I began to read the poem day after day, time after time – until I committed it to memory. Little did I know that this poem would empower me and instill within me a sense of determination that would take me through some challenging circumstances ahead.

30 years and change later, I still remember that poem and recall the feelings I felt when I first read it.

“If you think you can’t do it – YOU CAN’T
If you think you dare not – YOU DON’T
If you’d like to win but think you can’t – it’s almost a cinch YOU WON’T
If you think you’ll lose – YOU LOST
For out in this world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in a state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man
For sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.” ~Walter D Wintle

Success stems from the power of your conviction to will it so – your determination to see it through – to never give up, to never back down. Above all, to quiet the voices in your head – the voices in the world telling you YOU CAN’T.

Those voices, those deterrents of progress can only have power if you let them. Will you always succeed just because you try? Of course not! But success isn’t about whether you hit your goal, but rather about whether you were determined enough to step up to the plate. After all, our failures, in hindsight, are catalysts for our greatest successes. A determined person will have many failures under their belt but those failures don’t deter them, they spur them on, they breed creativity, ingenuity and help them think outside the box.

That poem didn’t get me through the hard times, that poem ignited that determination that was there within me all along to see those hard times as stops along my journey instead of seeing them as the final destination.

Do I always succeed in being determined? No, of course not. I’m human. We all are. And it is human to have ups and downs, highs and lows, moments of strength and moments of weakness. But being determined removes our need for an all or nothing mindset. It whispers in our ear to try again, even when we find ourselves dropping to all time low levels of energy, enthusiasm and strength.

So my message to you, as well as to myself is to remember that when we find ourselves stuck and feel as though there’s no chance we can get out of the funk we’re in, look at yourself in the mirror and remember that the person staring back at you is stronger than you think and braver than you can believe.

Ask yourself, what can you learn from your current position? How can you adjust? And then pivot and try again.

If you don’t bet on you, then you’ll find no one will bet on you either. Don’t give up – the world needs you to shine. Just remember, you’re a shining light even if you find yourself lost in the darkness. As we know the sun will regardless of the darkness of night that precedes it.