What Does a Person Need to Succeed in Life?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Relentless" by Tim Grover. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does a person need to succeed in life and in their career? What are easy ways to achieve success without getting distracted or discouraged?

In Relentless, Tim Grover says that an urge to succeed is natural, and you should actually strive towards satisfying it. He offers three methods you must work on to ensure your success: make sacrifices, accept discomfort, and ignore judgments.

Keep reading to learn what a person needs to succeed in life and become unstoppable in their journey.

Use Any Means Necessary to Succeed

Pushing yourself hard to improve and pressuring yourself are two essential principles to satisfying your need to succeed. However, to get the most out of these principles, Grover argues that you must seek success by any means necessary. 

We’ll explore the three things Grover says a person needs to succeed in life:

  1. Make sacrifices
  2. Accept discomfort
  3. Ignore judgments

Method #1: Make Sacrifices

Using any means necessary to succeed in your field requires you to make sacrifices in everything else you do. Grover insists that you can only be unstoppable at one thing and that you’ll have to spend less time and energy on everything else. If you split time and energy between multiple disciplines, then you aren’t giving everything you have to any of them and therefore aren’t pursuing success relentlessly.

(Shortform note: Gary Keller supports this idea of total commitment to one area of your life in The One Thing. He explains that extraordinary success comes from intentionally focusing your time on actions that carry you toward a specific goal—not from spreading your focus across everything you feel you should be doing and treating every area of your life as equally important.) 

Not only will you have to avoid spending time and energy on other disciplines, but you’ll also have to avoid spending too much time and energy on your family and relationships. Ultimately, this means that being unstoppable comes with isolation. You’ll spend less time with the people you love and care about, and since there are so few other unstoppable people almost nobody will understand what you’ve gone through to get where you are. 

(Shortform note: Grover’s recommendation here seems to argue in favor of isolation, saying that spending too much time developing relationships impedes success. However, studies contrast with Grover by suggesting isolation negatively impacts mental and physical health, which could prevent success by damaging your motivation or your performance in your field.)

Method #2: Accept Discomfort

The sacrifices mentioned above might make you feel uncomfortable, and further suggest that the journey to succeeding in life can be unpleasant. Grover doesn’t argue with this and says that you must experience and accept this discomfort to be unstoppable. Anyone can follow a clear, painless path toward success. But when success requires confronting fear, uncertainty, or even physical pain, discomfort holds back good and great people while the unstoppable people relentlessly push through it.  

An example of this is a protester on a hunger strike. They feel intense discomfort and constantly face the temptation to give in and do what’s comfortable. An unstoppable protester accepts this discomfort, knowing it’s unpleasant but needed to succeed.

The Power of Accepting Discomfort

Psychological research agrees with Grover’s argument that accepting discomfort is needed to succeed, and goes even further by suggesting that doing so will lessen discomfort in the future. Specifically, psychologist Marsha Linehan discovered this when creating a method for accepting discomfort called dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. One of the main theories behind DBT is that emotional suffering comes less from feelings and more from how you think about your feelings. DBT reduces this suffering by using a method called “radical acceptance”: Acknowledging your discomfort and accepting that it’s there without passing any judgments on it. More and more research suggests that radical acceptance leads to increased peace of mind, increased willpower, and increased emotional management skills. The success of DBT suggests that accepting discomfort doesn’t just allow you to stay relentless, but will actually help reduce your discomfort as you continue to pursue relentlessness.

Method #3: Ignore Judgments

One kind of discomfort you might experience at some point when becoming unstoppable is judgment from other people. Grover recommends ignoring these judgments because acknowledging them creates self-doubt, which disrupts your need to succeed. (Shortform note: While Grover recommends you ignore judgments, psychological research suggests that even indirect judgments you might not consciously notice still have a significant negative impact on performance. Studies of “stereotype threat” show that members of groups associated with negative stereotypes face increased performance anxiety, even when others only passively mention those stereotypes. This increased anxiety often leads to worse performance. Research on stereotype threat suggests that Grover’s advice to ignore judgments might not prevent them from negatively impacting your performance.)

What Does a Person Need to Succeed in Life?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Tim Grover's "Relentless" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Relentless summary :

  • The qualities you’ll need to become the best in your field
  • Why sacrifices and discomfort are necessary for growth
  • Why you should practice indulging in your primal self

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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