We have it all wrong.
The way we approach success is faulty.
Our focus is on the final product, the end game. We’ve lost sight of the process.
The blueprint is simple. It’s been widely available for years.
What is it you ask?
That’s it? There has to be more to it!
Nope, that’s it. A daily process of hard work is the major ingredient for success, and without it, your efforts will surely be wasted.
You might think I’m wrong, and that it takes other factors, such as money and even a bit of luck. But our effort is usually questionable and halfhearted.
We say we are putting in consistent time, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know this is a lie.
You’re wrong Axel, I work hard! But you can’t fault me for looking for the easy road. All the books I read teach me life hacks and shortcuts!
Maybe you’re right. We are wired to look everywhere for shortcuts and easy roads. It’s the era we live in. But are you really working hard?
One of the world’s greatest living novelists, Haruki Murakami, had this to say on his writing routine:
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
An idea is only as good as the process to turn it to reality. Consistency breeds repetitive actions, which defines process, and thus, defines output.
Work Harder and Smarter
For instance, if we spend 20 minutes a day, every day, on our goal, what will happen?
We will see massive results.
What if you increased that to an hour? To 5 hours?
Consistent, hard work that is efficient will always yield successful results.
But this advice is too easy.
Hard work isn’t trendy, doesn’t support an elaborate theory, and can’t be marketed.
Hard work is boring.
Yet what goes on behind the scenes, early in the morning, late at night, day after day, is the most important part of the success equation, no different than how a car works, how an airplane takes off and lands, how an email gets from point A to point B instantaneously.
It’s the inner workings, the gears that nobody cares about, that propel forward successful results.
Look under the hood of any success story; all the greats. At least three universal truths define their success:
- Dedication: They were, and remain, consistent. Every day they put in the effort, regardless of outcome.
- Tenacity: Even though the odds of failure were high, they didn’t lose sight of the goal. They had an unwavering belief in their talent.
- Hard Work: They let nothing stand in their way and knew that by out working their competition they would eventually prosper.
Combined, these traits form a commonality of the ultra-successful crowd; a grueling, ruthless work ethic.
NBA player Kobe Bryant is a well-known workaholic. One such story took place during a Team USA practice. As described by an athletic trainer, Kobe called him at 4:15am, wanting to work on conditioning:
I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.
“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”
“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”
“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”
I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.
“Yeah sure, I’ll see you in the facility in a bit.”
It took me about twenty minutes to get my gear and out of the hotel. When I arrived and opened the room to the main practice floor I saw Kobe. Alone. He was drenched in sweat as if he had just taken a swim. It wasn’t even 5AM.
We did some conditioning work for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Then we entered the weight room, where he would do a multitude of strength training exercises for the next 45 minutes. After that we parted ways and he went back to the practice floor to shoot. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Wow.
I was expected to be at the floor again at about 11 AM. I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.
This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”
“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”
“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”
“So when did you finish?”
“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”
“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”
The greats put themselves in the best position to succeed every day. They have a process that defines them, and they do not stray from that process under any circumstances. Working hard eventually comes natural to them.
You can do the same. Your specific goals are irrelevant. The process applies to everything and everyone. Plain old hard work achieves goals.
Break Free from the Pack
Hard work puts you ahead of the majority of your peers, but it must have purpose. Working without direction is a waste of time.
When you purposely work hard every day, you experience breakthroughs. Some days may be good, some may be bad, but every day you are making an attempt. The key to the process is the actually process itself.
When I Google “How to make money,” here are the top ways Google finishes the sentence:
We don’t care about process. We’ve grown accustom to “right now” in a world of instant gratification and false narratives about the American dream. We want the glory and praise without putting in the necessary time, which is why most of us swim laps in the pool of mediocrity.
We want to be told what to do and when to do it, as we don’t have to make any hard decisions this way. It’s easy to live vicariously through family, friends, and our idols on TV and social media. We copy the lives of those around us because this is the safest course of action we can take.
Inertia is so clear and easy to avoid, yet it has 10x more followers than a Kardashian Instagram page. We are living in a world where we can pursue anything we want for a minimum investment, yet so few of us even consider altering our current life path, no mater our disdain for our current situation. We are unhappy, but unwilling to put forth radical changes. Bitterness and resentment usually follow.
We attack those we envy, those people we know that worked hard and earned their success. Talk to your friends and listen to how they belittle other people’s success. This is a sure sign of a loser, one who believes others are lucky and undeserving of their wealth and status.
We poke holes at success because we fear success.
We lack conviction in our ideas. We coast the road to nowhere as opposed to straying from the lackluster path of many.
Not only are we complacent, but we are easily overwhelmed.
Procrastination is the devil we all have to deal with. Even with a clear focus and process, procrastination can effect even the most head-strong individual.
We procrastinate because excuses are easy to come by, especially when faced with an unknown future. We need to know everything before starting a task.
With so many resources a click away, we spend weeks and months waiting for the “right time.” That time will never come, and instead, we never actually start the process. By never starting, we are never wrong. Thus, we cannot be criticized. It’s impossible to fail this way.
We must control procrastination if we want to control process.
Work hard with purpose – think and do. Forget the noise in between.
Consistency Breeds Breakthroughs
Start with 20 minutes, every day.
If you’re a writer, create a process where you write for 20 uninterrupted minutes a day. If you’re an artist, draw for 20 minutes day. If you’re a programmer, spend 20 minutes a day working on code.
You get the idea.
If you can do more that’s great. If you can’t, don’t worry about it.
Just remember, you must work every day for a year. At the end of that year, see where you stand. Chances are you will have created something with potential for growth, and will continue to allocate more and more time to it.
You’re in charge. You make the rules.
Work hard and be consistent. Focus on doing and you will see results.
Learning hard work isn’t easy, but if patient, the results will be glorious.
It’s as simple as that.
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