Toughness Breeds Success. Prince Said So.


You say your dad was tough on you? You felt like nothing you did was ever good enough? Or your mom was a tiger, before “Tiger Moms” were a thing? And look at you now. You succeed at whatever you set your mind to: being the CEO of something major, an exceptional athlete or a mastered musician. In a lot of peoples’ minds, there’s a fine line between being tough and using high standards as motivation, but not in mine. Toughness and success can go hand-in-hand.

When someone pushes you past what you think you’re capable of achieving and makes you feel really uncomfortable, it’s one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive. Thank that person immediately, because they cared enough to invest in you. They saw something in you that you could never have seen for yourself.

Right now, I’m thinking about a mysterious guy, who died a mysterious death; at least, at the time of this writing it still appeared mysterious. But in life, he reached further, fought harder and achieved more than most “Super Rock Stars” on the planet. How did Prince become who he was? I have some thoughts.

Prince was bullied. So he taught himself to play music. And by play, I mean master. He was not going to let anyone put him down, and instead, at the age of 12, he decided he would have a career in music. Thanks, bullies.

His father set unrealistically high standards for achievement. Prince achieved against them. Was it hard? Sure. Did it suck? Absolutely. Then when his father left, he left behind his piano, which Prince was never allowed to play, because “he wasn’t as good as his father.” So Prince decided he would be just as good, and he mastered the piano. Thanks, dad.

Some describe his childhood as tough, because his dad was strict and laid down the rules. I’m sure it was a little more complicated than that, but either way, Prince found motivation in that toughness. On the topic of his dad, Price said, “In his harshness, he wanted me to excel.”

Most leaders had someone who was tough on them. Someone who forced them to bring their “A game” – someone who influenced them to hit their hardest every time they stepped up to the proverbial plate. And most of the time, it was hard – and sometimes it sucked. Now, they’re among the few who are not afraid to dream big, and achieve at the highest level.

Who in your life was that “tough” one? If they’re still alive, call them right now and thank them. If they’re not, then send a little spiritual “thank you” their way. When you have someone in your life that’s willing to push you to play in the big leagues, that’s what you do. You didn’t know there was any other league.

My mentor certainly could be described as tough at times. But he once told me, “You have the ability to make a difference.” Those words struck like lightening, and I can’t thank him enough. #Gratitude

Teri is an Executive Coach and author of “From the CEO’s Perspective.” Her clients range from first-time CEOs to established executives. The common denominator is they all have an audacious mentality and an insatiable desire to evolve their leadership. Follow her blog or LinkedIn to learn more about how she helps good thinkers become great leaders.

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