A rope wrapped around his neck.
It nearly choked him … to death. He thought he’d die. The film was set in the desert.
To stay alive he had to consume a special liquid every two hours. Stunts were his thing. He did all his own. They took a toll on his body.
Every few months it was time for another surgery — knee replacements, hundreds of contusions, repairs to vocal cords. It never ended. His body became a freak show from all the injuries.
If that wasn’t enough, he had to have a laminectomy. It’s where part of the spine is removed. It’s painful and dangerous.
As luck would have it, the surgeon made a mistake. He had to have it done again a year later. Soon after his beautiful wife divorced him. All the injuries meant he couldn’t work.
His income dried up.
The couple’s time in court arrived. The judge decided to unfairly calculate the alimony he must pay based on his prior income, not his new $0 one.
Oh, and they took his kids away too.
2003 rolled around and a high-profile movie director sexually assaulted him. He threatened to speak out and the movie business blacklisted him from all new opportunities.
The next few years were full of struggle. He gained a lot of weight. People online loved to share photos of his early career when he had boyish good looks versus his later career when he looked like a mess.
The back issues caused him to get shorter in height.
Mental illness took over. It more than a decade for anything to change. In 2023 Brendan Fraser won an Oscar for his role in the movie “The Whale.”
He made one of the greatest comebacks in history.
And the success principle I learned from him, as a quirky 37 year old, is you can literally come back from anything. Any tragedy, defeat, or failure.
Here are a few more success principles I live by that’ll make you unstoppable.
Daily rejection is a good sign
Internet entrepreneur Chris Dixon said getting rejected means your goal is ambitious. A lack of rejection is a sign you’re thinking too small. Our default is to think small.
We fear rejection because it feels like crap.
But if you can resist the temptation to avoid rejection, you’ll learn the hard lessons that’ll create success much faster.
You know who never fails? People who never try — SchrodingrsBrat
Stick around long enough
I’m not terribly smart, yet I’ve had some level of online success.
Investor Howard Marks taught me why. He knew an investor whose performance was always in the bottom half of his colleagues.
When one zooms out, though, his performance over a 14-year period is in the top 4%. None of us are heroes in the short term. But if we stick around long enough and keep learning there’s a high chance we will outlive the competition and figure out the game.
It’s why I live by the 5-year rule.
If a goal is meaningful enough then I allow myself at least 5 years to achieve it. It’s hard to still be an amateur in 5 years’ time if you keep growing and practicing.
Laugh at fear
Try for just a single day, a whole day when you refuse to acknowledge fear of failure, fear of making yourself look like an idiot, fear of losing your lover, fear of anything and of any kind.
Fear will creep back, but laugh at it and tell it to take a hike. Go on. I dare you. If you can do it, this will transform your life.
You will instantly perceive (among many other things) just how much money there is in the world, and how pitifully easy it is to obtain it.
Money that already has your name on it — Felix Dennis
This is one of my favorite success principles of all time.
If you can learn to laugh at fear suddenly your potential is limitless. The things you fear have you by the curly ones. It’s false evidence appearing real though. What you fear isn’t reality. It hasn’t even happened yet.
The worst that can happen rarely happens, and if it does you can always make a Brendan Fraser comeback and be better for it.
Success is learning to work when it’s boring as hell
Success is unsexy.
Behind the scenes it’s blood, sweat, and tears. Not like what you see in Hollywood movies or Youtube highlight reels of someone’s life.
Before you hit milestones there’s a lot of boredom involved. Before I got a book deal with a major publisher, I felt my work plateau.
“Is this it Tim? Maybe you’ve had your time. Newsletter is dying. Views are down. Comments are more hateful.”
At the end of this boring time the offer of a lifetime came through. Half of success is just learning to love the boring parts and backing yourself.
Behind every success is a breakup or career firing
It’s amazing how true this principle is.
Think about any hero you admire. You’ll see what I mean. When a breakup or job loss happens it motivates us to think differently. It interrupts the pattern that says:
- Trust college
- Trust society
- Trust the government
The only person you can trust your success on is yourself.
Everyone else has biased incentives that are designed to tell you what you want to hear so they can get their bit of success. The worst of times turn into the best of times looking back.
Frustration is the birthplace of breakthroughs
I grew up a frustrated little boy.
I always thought it was a curse. It turned out to be a huge advantage. When we get frustrated it inspires us to take action. We become determined to find a way and to work harder at our goals.
Instead of letting frustration ruin you, let it force you to take action. Imagine the story of David and Goliath. Imagine you’re David and you’re being underestimated. Think to yourself: what would David do?
Now do that.
What David wouldn’t do is give up or try to get sympathy. Or worse, jump on social media to blame, complain, and act lame.
Use frustration as free motivation.
Push your way into places you don’t belong
Imposter syndrome is a gift.
I got told I didn’t belong in banking because I didn’t have a finance degree. So I stuck around long enough for my colleagues’ banking wisdom to rub off on me, and I read finance books after hours to close the gap.
Then when I tried to change industries from banking to digital marketing, I got told the same feedback: “You don’t belong here. You don’t have experience. Move along now.”
I then tried to go from digital marketing to working for a tech company. “Sorry, you’re a banker and don’t qualify.”
Each time I ignored the feedback and dealt with the imposter syndrome until I became one of the so-called experts. Being in places you don’t belong forces you to learn faster.
Go where you’re not wanted. Prove them wrong.
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have little to teach you
It’s become trendy to idolize the morning routines of mega-successful people or even billionaires.
Let’s be honest … 99% of us aren’t going to become billionaires. So why do we worship their advice and try to copy their tactics? It makes no sense.
It’s better to learn from people who are 20 steps ahead of you instead of 5 million steps.
Choose practical advice instead of sexy.
“The people who succeed are irrationally passionate about something.”
Some call it passion. I call it obsession.
The aim in life isn’t to find a goal, calling, or meaning for life. No. It’s to find an obsession you become so addicted to, you get taken down rabbit holes because of it for the rest of your life.
These obsessions turn into success. They require zero motivation, goals, or habits. Obsession creates a drive within that doesn’t need a self-help book to make it come alive.
Focus on the ordinary
All the gurus preach the way of the extraordinary life. Anything less is a failure, right? Nope. That’s just success p*rn.
William Martin wrote this beautiful poem:
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may be admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
Successful people find inspiration in what most people overlook.
The ordinary is actually spectacular. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s why I love simplicity and minimalism. When you strip out all the hype from an idea what’s left is pure gold.
Those who seek to be successful often go to great lengths to achieve it and destroy themselves in the process. Or break the law or do something unforgivable that gets them canceled.
Pursuing success at all costs is a loser strategy.
Often, it’s insecurity that makes us want to be extraordinary to make up for some hidden defect in ourselves we refuse to admit. I have many defects. I initially became a musician to hide from mental illness.
I thought if I could just play electronic music to stadiums of people I’d be happy and the mind virus would go away. The opposite was true.
When I adopted the ordinary life and got a job in banking, it taught me so many lessons and allowed me to meet the people who challenged me to see a therapist.
Ordinary is extraordinary. It’s true happiness.