How To Get A Backbone, Be More Focused, And Become A Self-Made Success | Dr. Isaiah Hankel How To Get A Backbone, Be More Focused, And Become A Self-Made Success | Dr. Isaiah Hankel

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How To Get A Backbone, Be More Focused, And Become A Self-Made Success

self made man | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | get a backbone

“A lot of people are afraid to tell the truth, to say no. That’s where toughness comes into play. Toughness is not being a bully. It’s having backbone.”

Robert Kiyosaki (Businessman & Author, Rich Dad Poor Dad)

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!”

Theodore Roosevelt, (Former U.S. President)

“The individual activity of one man with a backbone will do more than a thousand men with a mere wishbone.”

William J. H. Boetcker (Motivational Speaker)


He was a mama’s boy.

He was sickly.

He was asthmatic.

He was weak.

But this isn’t how history remembers Teddy Roosevelt.

We know the Teddy Roosevelt who left a cushy government job to enlist in the army.

We know the Teddy Roosevelt who carried a big stick.

We know the Teddy Roosevelt who stood up to everyone.

He has been deemed one of the toughest presidents in history.

He even gave a political speech after surviving an assassination attempt.

But how did he become tough?

How did he go from being a weak and vulnerable man to the Teddy Roosevelt we remember?

After all, he had to deal with his wife and mother dying.

On the same day.

That day, he realized he couldn’t take life for granted.

He realized that you have to be strong in order to handle what life throws at you.

You have to grow a backbone.

So he stopped being weak.

He stopped being a mama’s boy.

He went out west and learned how to face challenges head-on.

Then Teddy Roosevelt came back and started making history.

Through tragedy, he found strength.

But you don’t have to go through intense tragedy to grow a backbone.

All you need to do is examine your life with a harsh, objective eye and make a strong decision to meet your obstacles head-on.

Why You Need To Be More Assertive

Having a backbone simply means having the assertiveness and tenacity to stand up to the people around you.

A study in the British journal Nursing Standard found that when nurses lacked assertiveness, they were less likely to provide quality care for their patients.

The same study showed that these same nurses reported a higher level of job dissatisfaction than those who were deemed to be assertive.

Assertiveness makes people happy.

It also makes people successful.

If you don’t have a backbone, you’ll do poorer work and won’t enjoy your life.

If you can’t assert your needs, you’ll never be able to meet them.

No one can assert your needs for you, you must do it yourself.

No matter who you are, you need a backbone to get anywhere in life.

Everyone who has ever achieved something did so because they had a backbone.

When you have a backbone, you know who you are and what you want and, as a result,you don’t let anyone stand in your way.

how to focus your mind | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | self made success

How To Grow A Backbone And Become A Strong Leader

Are you not achieving your goals?

Do you feel like a follower rather than a leader?

This is because you’re lacking a backbone.

You’re trying to please everyone and putting everyone else’s priorities before your own.

You’re becoming a needy, desperate person.

You’re sacrificing your own happiness for someone else’s.

This is a recipe for resentment, frustration, and an unfulfilled life.

How can you get what you want if you’re focused on everybody else?

If you want to unleash your strongest potential to become a self-made success, you have to get a backbone first. Here’s how…

1. Prioritize who you are and what is important to you.

Who are you?

What is important to you?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’ll never get what you want out of life.

How can you achieve your goals if you don’t even know what your goals are?

Don’t get wrapped up in the day-to-day garbage of your life or your job.

Pointless meetings where everyone shows up to smile and nod at the boss.

Going to some mind-numbingly boring event with your relationship partner just to shut them up.

Catching the latest episode of some brain-rotting reality television show.

These things are all meaningless.

If you focus all your energy on pointless and low-priority activities, you’ll never achieve all you want from life.

You won’t ever find out what’s important to you.

You’ll be pushed around by what’s important to other people.

This is what failure looks like.

Stop desperately trying to please everyone else and craving their approval like some needy person.

Stop focusing on things that don’t matter.

Instead, spend some time thinking about what is important to you.

Many people wait until they suffer some sort of life-changing event.

A death in the family.


Financial ruin.

Only then do they prioritize their lives.

Don’t wait until tragedy strikes.

Ask yourself what really matters to you.

Identify your priorities and then rank them.

Decide which priorities are on top and which are at the bottom.

Once you know what is important, you can focus on achieving it.

2. Know when to say “never again.”

The fastest way to figure out what’s important to you is to first figure out what’s NOT important to you.

Do you know what to say “no” to?

Do you recognize what you don’t need in your life?

If not, it’s time to gain access to the magic words:

Never again.

These two words can cut a lot of time-wasters and non-priorities out of your life.

They can be powerful.

But you must know when and how to use them.

You must have the discipline to follow through with what you say.

If you say never again, you must mean it.

Be prepared to burn that bridge entirely.

Sink the ships and shred the safety nets associated with everything that shouldn’t be in your life.

Including negative people and mindless activities.

Once you recognize when something is a waste of time for you, make a decision to never waste your time again.

3. Stop pleasing everyone and start upsetting some people.

You know what’s important to you.

You know how to get rid of the time-wasters and non-priorities in your life.

But there’s a problem…

Not everyone will agree with your priorities.

These people might get mad at you.

They might try to bargain with you.

They might call you a narcissist.

They might even use emotional manipulation if they find out you’ve cut them out of your life.

This is a good sign.

You can’t please everyone, so don’t even try.

Stick to what you know is important.

If your friends and family are actually worth having in your life, they will understand.

If they don’t, they’re only holding you back.

You don’t need their approval to follow your dreams.

If they don’t want what’s best for you, why keep them in your life?

Just to bring you down?

Just so you can get up every day and feel guilty?

That’s insanity.

If you hang around people who don’t recognize your priorities, you’re admitting that your priorities are less important than theirs.

You’re accepting that what you want out of life doesn’t matter.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Stop surrounding yourself with people who refuse to support what’s important to you.

Stop wasting your time with people who drag you down and start doing what you know is important to you.

4. Fail on purpose until failure doesn’t scare you anymore.

Why are more people scared of speaking in public than dying?

They’re afraid to fail.

They’re afraid people will see them as a failure.

They’re afraid they’re going to make a mistake and hundreds of people will see it.

They’re afraid to look stupid.

Look—everyone makes mistakes.

Everyone fails.

So if you’re afraid to fail, you’re afraid of an inevitability.

You’re afraid of something that’s guaranteed to happen to you.

You may as well be afraid of breakfast.

People with backbones don’t let the fear of failure hold them back.

Strong leaders fail, learn from the experience, and do better the next time.

Start looking for big challenges to fail at.

Find something you know you can’t do.

Come to terms with the fact that you will fail at this task.

Then attack it with everything you’ve got.

Why not?

You have nothing to lose.

If you fail, so what?

You knew you would.

But now you’ve faced your fear.

The next time will be easier.

So will the time after that.

Eventually you’ll override your fear of failure and develop an even stronger mindset.

Then a day will come when you aren’t intimidated by fear.

Instead, you’ll relish it.

That’s when you’ll be unstoppable.

5. Be consistently aggressive in your life.

So you’ve looked at yourself and gotten your priorities straight.

So you’ve told the toxic people and losers to get out of your life.

So you’ve tried something and failed.

Don’t stop there.

If you’re going to stay strong, you need to be consistently aggressive.

You need to constantly be seeking out new challenges.

Don’t just grow a little bit and then quit.

Don’t just stand up to someone once and then roll over.

Keep asserting yourself.

Keep engaging in battle with all the mediocre impulses within yourself.

Ruling over your mindset and your emotions won’t be won in one fight.

It will be won by standing up to your fears each day.

Getting a backbone is the key to a more confident and focused life. When you know your priorities and can cut out the losers in your life, you can start to take risks that will get you closer to your ideal life. If you can take a risk without fear of failure, you can make quantum leaps forward to the life you want. It will get easier with time. People with a backbone get what they want in this world. Make sure you are one of them. Until next time, live like a lion.

To learn more strategies for eliminating negative people from your life, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


You Comment, Isaiah Responds

  • Andrea Robinson

    I really appreciate your reminders! I had to say no to a few people who I knew would NOT like it, but I did anyway. And when I read your article just now, I thought, “I did well!” Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      That’s great to hear, Andrea! Keep making strong decisions.

  • Francie Eschenower

    I love this!! If you need support in life — try growing a backbone! LOL!

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      LOL Francie, well put.

  • Monica and Willy Hill

    Learning to say “never again” was an experience I had lately. I’d committed to something I really didn’t want to do — yes, it was one of those boring and time-wasting clubs that seemed to go on forever with no end and nothing achieved. And when I told them I wouldn’t be coming, they were all shocked. That’s when I remembered that I’d committed to something similar several years previously, and that I will never again commit to something without an exit clause! And I really mean it! It took two occurrences for me to realize that I don’t have time to waste.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Glad you were able to learn the lesson in the end, Monica and Willy, even if it did take two times.

  • Julian Holst

    I see a lot of fellow students that don’t have too much self-confidence, and I think it’s going to be a lot harder for them to get anywhere. I find that some people believe that self-confidence is the same as arrogance, and that’s just not right. Like, you shouldn’t be afraid of being who you are and having something to offer. And I see a lot of people who just can’t speak up and say what’s on their minds for some reason. I’m pretty good in the self-confidence department, but I think it would be good to join Toastmasters or get some experience like that. Being a better public speaker can only help.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Sadly, I have to agree with you, Julian. Self-confidence and arrogance are not the same thing but they are easily confused these days. Improving your public speaking skills is a great goal to have, it will get you far.

  • Sonja Luther

    I agree – trying to please everyone is not only a waste of time, but actually quite impossible. I should know – I tried! By the way, I really like the photo of the Pompidou Center in Paris. Talk about a lot of flack over such an unusual design, at first it was compared to a monster. Now, it stands out as a must-see, both inside and out. If you have a spark of genius in you, don’t wait around for everyone in the world to appreciate your vision.

  • Willow Sampson

    Hey, I’ve become much better at speaking my mind since I started reading this blog. I still like to please people, but I’ve managed to knock it down off the #1 spot in my list of priorities. 🙂

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      That’s a significant change in mindset Willow, and reason to celebrate 🙂

  • Theo

    Hey, this is right on. Someone told me once that assertiveness is not the same as aggression, so I actually looked it up. Assertive people still respect everyone, but they also respect themselves. So bottom line, that’s what I try to do, too. Hey, maybe I’m a little too respectful of myself, ha-ha! But I try to see their side, too.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Haha good one, Theo. And you made an excellent distinction between assertiveness and aggression. Thanks for commenting!

  • Maggie Sue Smith

    I think it’s interesting that there’s a correlation between assertiveness and quality of care among nurses. I would think that people who are people-pleasers would be giving more care than the ones who are not, but apparently it’s the other way around. Did it say why? I just wondered if those who are timid are just too afraid to ask questions or insist on certain things from co-workers.

  • Charisse Cappello

    I found out something weird through the years. I used to always say “yes” to everyone, and at first I wasn’t good at saying “no,” and people didn’t like it. But when you get good at saying “no,” people actually respect you more. That was a mild shock to me at first. I think that I morphed from begging “no, please, no?” to being assertive and knowing in my heart that I had every right to say no. I realized over time that if the other person was going to try to talk me out of what I wanted to do, I would just stay with my intention. I might have to come armed with arguments depending on how stubborn the other person was, but I sure learned over time that when you stick to your guns, even very stubborn people appreciate it if you do it with respect and resolve.

  • Harvey Delano

    I think it’s cool how Teddy Roosevelt turned his life around and became a great leader. I think leadership is something we all have to think about. Most people don’t think of themselves as leaders, or even strive to be one, but we all have to lead our own lives in a direction. So everyone could be considered a leader of their own destiny. And that’s something nobody else can do for you.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Great perspective, Harvey. Be a leader of your own destiny (as you said) and you become a leader by example.