As the famous contemporary author John C. Maxwell states, “The secret to your success is determined by your daily agenda.” Our everyday choices and actions determine whether or not we will attain success in the future. Success is not something that falls from the sky, nor is it something that we can merely purchase with money. Success is a journey and it requires sacrifice – the sacrifice of one’s time, energy and mind to a cause. It requires consistency, motivation and most importantly, hard work. However, many give up in the middle of their journeys to success, citing numerous reasons and excuses such as “I don’t have time!” or “It’s too difficult! I simply lack the talent to succeed.” With this in mind, is it possible for us, mere mortals from different walks of life, to ever obtain success? The answer is a resounding “YES!!” In this article, I will discuss how each and everyone one of us can achieve success, even though it may seem impossible for many of us. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!
#1: Discover and Follow Your Passion
What is it that brings you the most joy and satisfaction? Solving problems? Playing Chess? Writing? The point is, you must discover this passion and feed it. Of course, life is not as simple as it seems. For many adults and teenagers, with so many responsibilities and little time, chasing this passion may seem a rather daunting task. As a result, they will find their passions waning with time and eventually, these inner flames will die out, never to be found again. Meanwhile, many are not willing to give up their current jobs and careers, which they have taken up solely for the sake of financial sustenance, clinging to the belief that their passions will never be profitable or appreciated. The truth is, if you do not find and pursue your passion, you are doomed to suffer all your life. You will find life meaningless and find yourself bombarded by perpetual boredom, and when you finally realise, in hindsight, that you should have followed your passion from the beginning, it would be too late. So, I implore you, unearth your passion and follow it to the end. Learn to give up the limiting beliefs that plaque your mind day and night. Success and money will come in due time, as long as you dedicate your time and effort consistently. However, do note that this necessitates a degree of sacrifice. To illustrate this, let us study what Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, did to pursue his passion and achieve success. When Bill was a teenager, he found himself to love software and programming. He dreamt of a future where every home would have a computer and wanted to be at the forefront of this revolution. When he was 18 years old, he enrolled in Harvard University. However, he realised that it would only hold him back – he wanted very much to start a company of his own. Consequently, he made the most remarkable and astonishing decision of his life, and that was to drop out of Harvard, which in retrospect, would be the pivotal moment of Bill’s life. Now at this point you might be thinking, “Is Bill crazy or something? Harvard is so hard to get in and he’s just throwing it away like that?” First things first, this isn’t telling you to drop out randomly and spontaneously from university. In Bill’s case, he considered and concluded that his passion had to take precedence and that enrolling at Harvard would only hinder his path to success. What I am trying to say is that, you must be ready to make the bold decision to give up everything you have planned to make way for your inner calling. Do not let external factors and fear dictate what you should or should not do. Remember, the willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for one’s passion is what sets successful people apart. I assure you, only by doing so will you be free and contented.
#2: Work Hard And Be Consistent
Once you have identified and locked on to your passion, you must work on it day and night. There is simply no other way. This part of the journey is the hardest and many give up in the middle of this phase. Here, you might not see big improvements and every practice session may feel mundane. You must be careful not to think that you aren’t getting anywhere. The truth is, you are improving everyday, it’s just that you can’t see it! Let’s say everyday you improve by 1%. 1% might not feel a lot, but after 365 days, you would have improved 365%! Of course, your improvements cannot be calculated and even estimated by such crude numbers and percentages, but you get the idea. Everything will seem slow at first, but after much consistent practice, the law of accelerating returns kick in and you will soon find yourself improving much faster. Let me explain what this “law of accelerating returns” means here. In the early stages of learning a skill, your skill level is, of course, low. Due to a lack of knowledge and familiarity with the field, more time is spent on trying to understand the subject at hand and the durations of your practice sessions are limited. At this point in time, trying to practice for a few hours at a time will only result in you becoming burnt out and more confused. However, with daily practice and learning, your knowledge and skill increases and thus you are able to practice for longer durations and with much more focus. With this increased practice, your skill level and knowledge increases much further, and the quality of your practice sessions increases as well. This in turn gives birth to a never ending, exponential cycle of learning and improvement. Now, the aim of this phase is to reach the point where even hours of practice would seem inadequate and effortless. Reaching this sweet spot will allow your creativity to flow in ways you’ve never seen before and it is at this point that you will find mastery. (If you would like to know why you should never give up easily, check out my article here: https://bestofwrite.com/2021/01/14/never-give-up-easily/)
#3: Replacing Negative Perspectives With Positive Ones
Yes, hard work is important and all, but how do you sustain yourself through this journey? How do you control your emotions? It’s all about your perspective. Ask yourself what failure means to you. Is it the end? Does it mean that you are incapable? The answer to all these questions is a stark NO. Failure just means that you have to work harder. All you have to do is to switch your perspective. Robots and machines do not whine when they experience failure. Failure to them is just a sign that their database is not wide enough and that much more data is needed to increase their success rate. Even machines experience failure on a daily basis, let alone human beings. The only difference is that machines do not attach any emotional significance to failure – they just move on and become better with time. The cycle of learning and failure is the very foundation of learning, even in artificial intelligence. But of course, we are not machines and we are vulnerable to the negative thoughts that come from our very own minds. To overcome this, you have to change your mentality towards the field you are working on. For instance, instead of seeing a Chess match as a battle between two parties, a better way to view it is that Chess is a puzzle battle – the player which solves it the most accurately wins. Failure would not mean that you are better or worse than the other player. It just means that you did not solve the “puzzle” accurately enough! Whether it is you are a Chess player, an athlete, a writer or mathematician, it is essential to learn to work like a machine, celebrate like a human.
Success is no doubt a long journey that requires much sacrifice, hard work and grit. However, it is not impossible to attain. Whenever you experience failure, just be like a clock. Just keep moving.
Meanwhile, are there any other factors of success that I have not mentioned in this article? Do comment your thoughts below!
14 thoughts on “Keys To Attaining Success”
I agree with points 2 and 3, but passion is over-rated. S. Truett Cathy advised us to find out what you are good at and make that your passion. In my 71 years, I have found Cathy’s view on passion to be more true than the pursue-your-passion meme.
Despite what people say about passion, I still believe it is an integral part of success. Without any passion, you clearly will have no motivation to put in the hard work. Also, I think that making what you are good at your passion is a bad idea. Sure, you may be good at it, but in turn you will hate it. Being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you like it. I found myself to do very well in Mathematics in high school, but I thoroughly hated it. Sure, I can succeed and become a great mathematician, but I would thoroughly hate my life. In short, that success would have no meaning to me. In Robert Greene’s Mastery, passion was pointed out as the prerequisite to mastery.
Our passion at 18 may or may not fit our capabilities. You misread what Truett Cathy and I said. Find out what you are good at and make that your passion. Read 10 biographies of successful people or interview 10 of the most successful people you know over the age of 50. Most of them had one passion in their youth and became successful in another field. Of the Presidents in my lifetime (Truman through Biden) only Bill Clinton had a passion to be President when he was young. The true path to success is to marry passion with ability. You are right, those who who do what they are good at but are not passionate about it will suffer burn-out. But I am also right, those who pursue passion without ability will fail and become disillusioned. I admire your enthusiasm and your posts, but most successful people I know balance realism with their idealism.
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Of course, passion without ability will not grant you success, hence my 2nd and 3rd point in my blog! With passion, you will be motivated to practice and work hard. With hard work, your abilities will increase and you will move closer to mastery. The definition of “passion” I am referring to here is not the passion in a hobby sense, but the “passion” to continuously improve and learn. You will find that those who truly have passion for their field will be extremely skilled at it, after years of practice of course.
I said that I agreed with your 2nd and 3rd points of your blog. But how many young people who embrace the pursue-your-passion message consider the limits of their ability and the cost of its success? In your first point you do indicate that we need to work to try to find our passion. I agree with that. Too often passions of the youth are external not internal. They come from media and not from experience. They involve money and fame. To find out what we are really good at takes exposure to different ideas and perspectives as you note in point 1. I don’t disagree with most of what you have written. I just disagree with an emphasis on glory and imagination without actual exploration of what one is good at and what one likes to do. Much of the pursue-your-passion message is that we can become the best we can be (top 1% of a given field) with determination and hard work. It is just not that easy. And then we wonder why so many of us are disillusioned! Most of us will end up in the lower 99%. Finding satisfaction in life by building relationships and doing something that matters is true success.
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Well that depends mostly on what the individual defines success as. Success has its costs and going to extreme lengths to reach the top 1% may lead to one having little time with their loved ones. (Another topic I will cover in a future article) Passion driven by money and fame is not true passion at all. Passion must be an inner calling outside money and fame. Here I agree with you that many of the youth have so called “fake passions”, which are temporary and superficial. Success takes true passion – the will to push on even when it is not profitable or appreciated yet. This inner calling is something that has been with you, albeit hidden in some ways, since your childhood. Lastly, of course, one must know his limits. This “limit” is different for different people. A teenager who is passionate at chess may have the time and energy to work towards becoming a grandmaster. However, to a middle aged man who has children to take care of, becoming a candidate master is good enough. Finding this balance is very important as well. However, since this article is focusing wholly on the topic of success, I have not included this “finding a balance” point yet. I’ll be sure to include that in a future article.
Great article! However, I do not agree with point no 1. Giving up everything sometimes is almost impossible especially if you are not privileged. I have a friend who is passionate about becoming a gamer but his parents have dumped almost 40lakhs of loans on him. So, he started his career with the burden of paying those loans. Although he wanted to pursue his passion, doing so feels like abandoning his parents in trouble. True that we can earn money later in life but sometimes it is necessary to earn money than pursuing our passion!
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Indeed, poverty and financial problems are great obstacles to success. I agree with you that in these cases, it is more important to first sort out your personal finances before embarking on a passion.