What allows successful individuals to persevere through seemingly impossible odds while many individuals give up at the first sign of failure? As captured in this Bold Business video filmed at the Synapse Summit, Thaddeus Bullard tells his powerful story of persevering against all odds. Through his journey, we learn many key insights of how to overcome failure and adversity an achieve success.
Thaddeus Bullard is an icon for countless people. Not only was he an outstanding football player early in his career, but he is also a legendary professional wrestler as Titus O’Neil in the WWE. However, beyond these two professions, his most defining characteristic is his ability to persevere against all the odds and inspire people young and old to realize their ambitions.
Thaddeus’ mother, Daria, was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at age 11 and gave birth to him a year later. Without a father figure, Thaddeus grew up drawn to the streets; labeled as someone who would end up in jail, or dead in his teens. But he received an opportunity to go to Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, an organization that took in at-risk youth and motivated them to create a sense of direction for themselves.
Soon, Bullard’s life took a turn for the better, with people supporting him to forge his life path. At 12 he said that a stranger told him, “I love you, and I believe in you.” This stranger, who has no part in his future, showed him love and support and changed the course of his life.
Soon, Bullard’s life took a turn for the better. At 12, he remarked that a stranger told him, “I love you and I believe in you.” This statement from a random stranger changed the course of his life. He went on to become an outstanding football player in high school and received an athletic scholarship from the University of Florida in the late 90s. He also played for the Florida Gators and the Tampa Bay Storm. Bullard then moved on to debut on the WWE in 2010 and has since then maintained an illustrious career as a wrestler with the name Titus O’Neil . Bullard did not give in to the low expectations and vowed to never give up on himself.
Where Does Persistence Come From?
Vincent Tinto, award winning professor at Syracuse University, believes persistence may be linked to one’s ability to integrate into new communities. That is, a person needs to feel like they belong to a community in order to flourish and succeed. However, many successful individuals will argue that perseverance depends on one’s attachment to their career. That is, those who are good at, love and find meaning in their careers are the most likely to persevere and achieve their dreams.
This is exactly what occurred with Bullard, who was at a tipping point before he joined the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch. Children need to believe they belong to a community to flourish and succeed. Bullard was given this through the people he met at the ranch. These individuals provided him support and inspiration that he credits being the turning point that allowed to him to succeed. This gave him the confidence and direction to permanently change his life.
When the Going Gets Tough, Your Business Gets Going
Similar to Titus O’Neil’s story, there are many famous business people who persevere against the odds. Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney are great examples. Oprah grew up with a childhood of abuse. But, she overcame incredible obstacles, failing many times. Oprah famously says that “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” That is exactly what she did. Successful leaders learn to see opportunity where others may not and they are open to new possibilities.
Walt Disney, the co-creater of Mickey Mouse and founder of Walt Disney Studios also faced a large number of obstacles. His family put him to work at just 9 years old, he had an eight-grade education and lacked formal training in art. However, as well all know, this did not stop him. Instead he learned to draw cartoons and caricatures while serving in France and gained exposure to animation which became the hallmark of his career.
According to Disney, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. … You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Leading Your Business to Success
As a business owner, you are going to come across obstacles that interfere with success and may make the journey seem impossible. What allows entrepreneurs to be successful is perseverance through the odds of failure. In fact, Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” That being said, there are a few ways that successful entrepreneurs are able to persevere through their struggles.
- The business has a set vision and the mindset to reach it Businesses succeed when everyone knows and believes in the vision of the company. Your business is only as successful as your weakest link and if everyone is not on board, things are unlikely to work in your favor. That being said, create a clear vision that your employees value as much as you do.
- They learn from their mistakes. As mentioned, you are going to come across obstacles. Some will cause you to fail at first, but a successful business learns from their mistakes and perseveres through the obstacles. Failure is life’s greatest teacher, if you and your team don’t learn from mistakes you will never get any better or develop a positive mindset within the company.
- They’re Willing to Change. While necessary that you stick to your values, you must be open to change. Change is inevitable and will affect your company in some way. Perhaps one of your most valuable employees leaves the company or a competitor develops a more successful customer relations policy. Events are going to happen that will require unexpected changes. Adjusting to these changes may be the most strategic steps your business takes.
- They ask for help. No one can do everything by themselves. Never be afraid to ask others for help, especially those in your close network. There’s a good chance you’re not the first one to run across the problem you are facing. You may be able to find someone willing to help who has had the same experience as you!
- They take small steps. A business does not become a multibillion dollar firm overnight. However, every accomplished challenge is another step closer to success. That being said, take every task one step at a time and before you know it your company will come across great success.
Finding Success Persevering Against All Odds
Individuals whose successes are marked by their perseverance swear by these three life lessons. As long as you do the following, you’re sure to find something in your life you will be passionate about.
- Do work that matters to you. Even when people are physically and mentally exhausted from their work, they still manage to show up the next day. They know they’re doing it for a bigger purpose. This may not be life-altering or impact the majority of society, but if it’s a cause you believe in, you will persevere.
- Do work that you love. We all have interests that we would like to pursue, and when we do, we often lose track of time because we enjoy doing them so much. The adage “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” actually has truth to it.
- Do work you’re good at. Every moment wasted on activities you don’t enjoy feels like an endless chore. When you do something you’re great at, you want to keep on going because it doesn’t feel like a burden. Moreover, it gives you a chance to focus on your interests and passions, so you find fulfillment in what you do.
Success stories are even more rousing and inspiring when people can prove expectations wrong. They come from nothing but can make something of themselves because of a strong and a clear sense of purpose. People like Thaddeus Bullard have become pillars in their communities for all the lives they have improved and inspired. Bullard has demonstrated that the odds can only deter you if you let it, and the impossible is attainable when you persistently work for it.