At the age of 29, Bruce Springsteen was receiving incredible praise like the quote above on a regular basis for his latest album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
Amidst all the accolades though something is missing. What the reviews don’t say is that before reaching for the moon and stars, Bruce Springsteen was nearly dropped from his record label on a couple of occasions because his first three albums failed to light up the charts.
Before he encountered those problems Bruce Springsteen paid his dues for years serving as an opening act for of-the-moment bands who rode a quick wave of success before falling by the wayside. Bands like Sha Na Na (Yes, really – these guys).
Before those problems Bruce Springsteen struggled to find his voice in a number of local New Jersey bands like Steel Mill, Earth, and Dr. Zoom and The Sonic Boom (Yes, really).
Before that Bruce Springsteen got kicked out of one of his first teenage attempts at a band after two days because he just wasn’t good enough.
Success that hits the moon and stars never comes without pain and failure along the way. In fact success only happens because of the opportunities our failues allow us.
It’s not just the victories in our life we ought to celebrate. The struggles along the way are a vital part of our story as well. Everything counts.
Bruce and his E Street Band-members were not an overnight success. You should not expect to be one either.
Bruce became one of the greatest rock ‘n’ rollers of all time because of the hours he spent struggling, failing, opening for bands beneath his talent, stuck in places he never wanted to be. In those moments Bruce Springsteen became who he was born to be. As Peter Ames Carlin puts it in his biography of Bruce, success did not come “by publicity or the grace of album reviews and national coverage but by showing up everywhere that would have [the band] and playing as hard as they could night after night, until every significant city or crossroads had a chance to experience their power.”
It’s our struggles which shape us. And we should celebrate them.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Rejoice in your suffering. It’s part of your story. Celebrate your scars. Sing their song.
If you want to be successful you have to put in the work. You have to put yourself out there. You have to risk failure, accept failure, and learn from failure. You must be willing to toil in the background, gaining experience from your mistakes and from your time on the sidelines.
You have to be willing to open for Sha Na Na (seriously, why did this ever happen?).
Struggle is not the end of your story. It’s just a fantastic anecdote to write a chapter about.
“There’s a certain morality to the show, and it’s very strict. Everything counts. Every person, every individual in the crowd counts. To me.” – Bruce Springsteen
What are you struggling with today? How can you see your struggles leading to future success? What’s your favorite Bruce Springsteen song? Leave a comment and join the conversation below:
**Full credit goes to Peter Ames Carlin and his fantastic book Bruce for the history and quotes in this blog.