05/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Success in the Shadows

My office is on the perimeter of a golf course. I enjoy watching the golfers.

There is a member of this club who is a world-class, amateur golfer. He has won several international tournaments. And here is what I have learned from him: success is earned in the shadows. Let me explain.

This man is out on the golf course practicing every day, usually at dawn or at dusk. In fact sometimes there is hardly enough light to see. But, he is always there -- before or after his work day (he is a stockbroker).

This man's example is a metaphor to me and how I feel about success.

If you want something really badly, if you want to excel and be the best you can be, then ready yourself to earn your success in the shadows. Understand that you will need to get up early to practice, study, prepare or review when others are sleeping. Understand that you will need to work at your endeavor when you are tired and others are relaxing. Understand that you may be very lonely at times when you struggle alone with a personal challenge while others enjoy friends and family. Understand that you will experience frustration, disillusionment and self-doubt as you seek to improve your standing, for success will never come as quickly or as easily as you hope.

Those who are prepared to struggle in the shadows, when it is hard to see the light, are those most likely to find success in their chosen endeavor.

One of my favorite writers is a doctor named William James who many consider the father of American psychology. In 1890 he completed a 2,900 page study titled The Principles of Psychology. Here is an excerpt:

"(Some identify their goal) and know that the facing of its difficulties shall remain a permanent portion of their task ... They find a zest in this difficult clinging to the truth or a lonely sort of joy in pressing on the thorn ... which no passively warranted possession of it can ever confer. And thereby they become the masters and the lords of life. They must be counted with henceforth; they form a part of human destiny."

If you have a dream, understand that at times your quest will be painful and fatiguing, that at times no one will see the reality of your dream but you, that at times you will feel isolated and unsure, and that at times you will struggle in the shadows searching for the strength and the light to press on.