AJS Acting with determination

A journey to find happiness…

The word “determination” means different things to different people. 

To some, the movie “Rocky” and his grueling training sessions which culminate in the now famous triumphant run up the stairs where he stands in a victory pose – arms raised to the heavens – comes to mind.

He appears like he has won the match before even fighting in it. He has grit. He has focus. He has the right attitude. And to the lay-person – he has determination. Because he goes the distance not only for his own self-respect but to also prove his worth in the fighting ring. Despite the odds.

“The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.”

No one told Rocky that he couldn’t win the fight. He just went for it. He believed in himself (remembering self-belief is crucial) and he focused on the end goal – he saw it as his only shot to make something of himself and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. 

He did not give up. The very definition of determination.

Now granted, it is easy to have determination in a movie. 

It is easy to fight back, fight hard and win. Especially when you have a team behind you guiding your every move – like a director, producer and stunt coordinator.

But real life is not played out on a movie set.

What is determination?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “determination” as follows – 

“the ability to continue trying to do something, although it is very difficult”

Likewise, Indeed describes determination –

“as a firmness of purpose or resoluteness. Specifically, being determined means having a firm decision or goal and not wavering in your pursuit of achieving it”.

And Walden University goes so far as to describe determination as transformative (i.e. putting in real work to turn opportunities into a reality and succeeding), moving you forward (by staying focused on your goal) and overcoming failure (by pushing through any obstacles in your way). 

With determination, failure is just a diversion. It’s not an end”.

Simply put – it would seem – determination means not giving up, having a strong purpose, knowing what you want and keeping on going until that goal is achieved.

Highly successful people?

Determination happens to be one of the most important qualities of “highly successful people”

Lolly Daskal, one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world and founder and CEO of Lead From Within, believes that having drive and being determined are the most important attributes of being a successful person – 

“You have the determination to work harder than most and make sure things get done. You pride yourself on seeing things getting completed and you take charge when necessary. You drive yourself with purpose and align yourself with excellence”.

She also believes that determination is a key leadership quality that will help people get comfortable with crisis – 

“Be determined and showcase perseverance. To be understanding of others you first need to know about yourself. Tap into your own determination and motivation. Think about ways you’ve persevered in the past and share those experiences with others. In this as in all things, your example is your most powerful leadership tool. Show them how it’s done through your own actions and by sharing your stories and those of people you admire”.

And we can all relate (we wager), in one way or another.

But what if we don’t feel as determined as we should be – right now – to achieve our goals?

How can you ”develop” determination?

We have all been in the situation where we feel “under pressure”, where we have been tasked with seemingly crazy goals, deadlines and coming up with innovative ways to outperform our competition. Delivering results come what may. 

And to our surprise, we have often done so by showing sheer grit, commitment and determination to succeed. Despite the odds. 

But how do we manage it? Where does it come from? 

Having determination and being driven are not just words. They are actions. 

So, if you are feeling like you need to dig a little deeper to perform or don’t feel quite up to the task or perhaps you just feel like you have lost your drive – you need to go about changing that. 

Because it is all a state of mind. 

Rocky Balboa undeniably evokes the “fighter” within all of us. In a positive way. So, we took some tips from professional fighters on Mighty Fighter and adapted them to how everyday people can find determination. But we know – realistically speaking – you won’t be able to undertake all the action points below. Admittedly, there’s a few. So, instead of feeling overwhelmed, we suggest you have a read and see what appeals to, what applies to you and what will help you. Even if it’s only one point – 

1.     Work from a point of strength – your drive to succeed can come from a point of strength or a point of weakness (like a fear of failure). The important thing is knowing what is really driving you. Is it your will to succeed or is it your fear of failing? By addressing your driver, you will ensure that you remain on track, constantly fueling your intention to succeed not fail.

2.     Understand your why – when you don’t know why you are doing something, it will become almost impossible to stick to or carry out your plans (because you will not be determined). Especially when times are tough. By having purpose behind why you do what you do, you will directly affect your level of determination. Hopefully in a positive way. 

3.     Don’t choose luck over deliberate practice – everyone knows that one big deal, one fantastic win in court can catapult your career. It can change the trajectory of your future. But relying on that one big deal or that one big win will not define who you are and what you can do. Not throughout a lifetime. Instead, it takes work over several years to define your career. It takes determination to put in the work every day to ensure success. Not one lucky moment. So don’t rely on luck or one moment. Give it your all, every day. 

4.     Develop a passion for what you do – when you are passionate about what you do, you will continue doing it, even if it becomes hard. As the saying goes “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. Passion is therefore key to increasing determination. People who don’t have a passion for what they do will find it easy to give up when the going gets tough. So, find your passion and you will find a determination to succeed come what may. 

5.     Avoid distractions – the path to success has many obstacles, especially in day-to-day life. Its often hard to focus on what you should be doing with so much going on around you. It’s hard to make the impact you would like to. And the truth is, unless you stick to one objective at a time, you will find it impossible to achieve anything at all. Nothing will work because your focus is all over the place. So, get rid of all distractions and focus on one project/goal/task at a time and excel in that. 

6.     Limit your choices – if you are unable to focus and unable to avoid distractions, you will naturally be indecisive. Even when you know something is good for you. You become paralysed unable to move forward because you are overwhelmed. “Decision paralysis” makes it easy to walk away from your goals. So set one achievable goal at a time, focus on that and find the determination to complete your task flow naturally from you. 

7.     Be committed – make a solid, well thought out plan that displays the best path to achieve your goals. Then, stick to it. Don’t deviate. Commit to your course of action and see it through. In other words, don’t give up.

8.     Follow your personal values – your own personal values give you a purpose. They help you stay committed even when things get tough, and you feel like giving up. Be true to yourself and what you want out of life or what you want for your career. And then work towards (and not around) that.  

9.     Review your goals and realign your actions regularly – not many things remain static or constant in life or in your career. As you change and evolve so do your plans and goals. It’s only natural. But it is because of this change that people lose their drive, their motivation and their determination. Because they lose their connection to their plans and goals. It’s naïve to believe that you can set one goal your entire life and not reassess it as things happen. It is not a onetime thing – it is an ongoing continuous thing. You will need to constantly review your goals and align your actions with your new plan as you go along. Adapt along the way and change in accordance with your needs.

10.  Act – it’s important to have a good plan to achieve your goals. But if that’s all you have, you don’t really have anything. Why? Because every step towards success takes action. The steps you take now will lead you towards your goal (or away from it). So don’t just put pen to paper, act. Don’t wait for inspiration to find you. Seek it out for yourself and roll with it.  

11.  Don’t forget the finish line – after all is said and done, no matter how many plans you make, sometimes things just don’t go according to plan.  But it’s during these times (when everything is up in the air) that are often the most crucial in your life. Because the decisions you make when the chips are down are ones that can affect your entire life. Fortitude, resilience and determination are the things that will define who you are and what you are capable of. See the finish line before you, no matter the noise on the sidelines, and continue working your way towards that. 

Acting with determination!

The word “determination” means different things to different people. It looks different to everyone. 

For some, determination involves working extra-long hours to achieve their end goals. For others, it is about coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems. Others show their determination by remaining steadfast and resolute in their goals and plans. 

It’s all different because each one of us is different. Therefore, no one way to “be determined” is the exact right way for everyone. It’s all relative. 

And that allows you a great amount of breadth to find what works for you

But the one steadfast thing that will apply to everyone is this – never give up!

And AJS echo’s that sentiment.  

We end this article with the wise words of Napoleon Hill and Sir Winston Churchill– 

“Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting” – Napoleon Hill


“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Sir Winston Churchill

Finding purpose, meaning, fulfillment and happiness throughout your life is a journey you will undertake over a lifetime. And it will be filled with innumerable steps. 

But as Lao Tzu said – 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

And acting with determination is only one of them. 

– Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS


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