Almost Everyone Quits Right Before Their Breakthrough

Dave Meltzer discusses the principles of a breakthrough
Buddhism and a Breakthrough

In my study of Buddhism, I’ve come across a very powerful metaphor. The lotus flower is used throughout Buddhist art to illustrate purity of the body, speech, and mind. This connection of all three elements of life helps teach about the encompassing elements of a breakthrough.

Symbolizing the body, the lotus flower begins its growth with a pursuit and the capability to achieve.  Through the cold, dark ground of challenges, the lotus pushes itself through the muddy waters of doubt. Speech is vital for the survival of the lotus, connecting it to the surrounding environment and giving it perspective. As the flower tries to find the light at the surface, it never quits believing in its capabilities to succeed. Eventually, through a focused pursuit, the lotus breaks the surface and flowers into an object of unmatched beauty. This is an allegory for our own muddy lives, demonstrating the importance of staying focused and motivated through the darkness of challenges in order to finally break through and see the light.

Quitting is Not an Option

A breakthrough is something we yearn for in every aspect of our life. But what is it exactly? A breakthrough defined as a significant and sudden moment that helps us overcome the perceived obstacle that’s been holding us back, allowing us to complete the process we hoped to accomplish.

So many times I’ve seen companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators quit right before they’re about to break through. A good example is when I used to consult for the CEO of Aircom, Leslie Buckley. He was down to his last 80,000 Euros, and he could not figure out how to complete his wireless spectrum. After trial and error, Leslie went to all the public authorities, such as the police and fire departments, and put his access points on all the roofs in exchange for data and wireless usage concessions. One year later, he was on the cover of Fortune and Forbes for having the largest wireless spectrum in Europe—living life as a billionaire.

Tips on Tipping Points

Malcolm Gladwell, who has authored books on this principle, defines a tipping point or breakthrough as the magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, “tips”, and spreads like wildfire. This is just like when a lotus flower breaks through the surface.

The phrase tipping point was first used and was adopted in physics, where it referred to the adding of a small amount of weight to balanced objects until the additional weight caused the object to suddenly and completely topple (or tip). The tipping point is when all it takes is one more push, when all takes is a little more pressure to achieve a goal.

Breakthroughs in Books

Everyone knows the story of JK Rowling, who was jobless, divorced, and depressed while she wrote the first Harry Potter. She used to say that she was as “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless”. During the first attempts to release the book, 12 publishing houses initially rejected the tale. When she finally found a publisher, she received a meager a £1,500 advance. Now, she is the best-selling British author of all time and she created a brand worth $25 billion.

Hall of Fame Breakthrough

People talk about “Cinderella stories” in sports, where people over obstacles and surprise everyone with their achievements. One of the best examples I can think of off the top of my head would be one of our dear friends, Kurt Warner. Kurt did not have success in the NFL initially as an undrafted quarterback. He was considered a bust by some because he failed to beat out Brett Favre, Mark Brunell, and Heisman-winner Ty Detmer to land a spot on the Green Bay Packers. Soon after he was cut, Kurt actually started bagging groceries for $5.50 an hour.

He didn’t get another shot at the NFL for the next few years, being forced to play in the Arena League and NFL Europe. He eventually had a breakthrough in 1999, after the starting quarterback for the Rams suffered a season-ending injury and he was forced into a starting role. Warner delivered, throwing for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns, on the way to a Hall of Fame career.

Disney in Debt

Of course, the story of Walt Disney is one of my favorites to share with entrepreneurs, showcasing someone who pushed through multiple bankruptcies to achieve immeasurable success. In fact, Disney not only went bankrupt in 1920 but almost filed bankruptcy again in 1937, 9 years after creating Mickey Mouse and the same year he released Snow White. Not only is Disney an icon for entertainment, but the brand he created (and almost lost) is worth over $36.5 billion today.

Quitters Never Win

Do not quit. Persistence and belief are the keys to success. Do not allow the negative energy around you to become your reality. If you are doing everything you should be, with enough patience, the universe will reward you. Giving up is not an option and never should be. Blossoming is never easy, but nothing worth trying ever is.

By: Dave Meltzer

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