I don’t believe that most people fail. They just give up.
In the movie, “A League of Their Own,” we’re told the story of the first professional women’s baseball league formed in World War Two. The outstanding athletes in this league endured hardships and even ridicule as they traveled across the country from one baseball field to the next.
At one point in the story, one of the league’s star players is about to quit the team just before the big play-offs. Her coach, naturally upset, says, “But I thought you loved baseball!”
The player answered tearfully, “I do. But it just got too hard.”
To which the coach responds, “Of course it’s hard. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it!”
Likewise, being successful is hard in many ways. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it.
Unfortunately, when we look at successful people, we see the RESULTS of their blood, sweat, and tears. We don’t see the EFFORT that comes before their results. And that’s a downright shame … because it leads to a skewed understanding of the success process.
Not so long ago, the dream for many people was to work hard and eventually become an athlete, a lawyer, a doctor, an artist, a business owner, or a craftsman. Now, the only dream some people have is to win the lottery. And that dream, my friends, will get you into a lot of trouble.
The odds of attaining success in the first dream is high; the odds for success in the second dream are about a hundred million to one. Yet too many people continue to play against the odds, hoping that luck, magic, or miracles will suddenly transform their lives, solve all their problems, and relieve them of all despair and depression.
Well, despite the fact that so many people do NOT understand how success is attained, there is some GOOD NEWS. Success has been studied … and continues to be studied … in thousands of research projects. We know … we really know … what kinds of things guarantee success.
If you obey the laws and principles of success, if you apply the skills and strategies associated with success, you will succeed. That’s what my “Journey to the Extraordinary” is all about. You learn the 12 keys that will guarantee your own success … on and off the job.
But I find it somewhat amazing that historian William Gilmore Simms alluded to some of those keys … or should I say “dirty little secrets” … back in the 1800’s. He said, “The conditions of conquest are always easy. We have but to toil awhile, endure awhile, believe always, and never turn back.” Notice his 4 points. And let me expand on them so you can apply his 4 points to your success journey.
=> 1. Toil awhile.
Basically Simms is saying there’s no substitute for hard work. There are very few overnight successes. And there “ain’t no free lunch.”
Linda Armstrong Kelly, the mother of bicycle champion Lance Armstrong, talks about that in her book, “No Mountain Too High.” Linda says, “I often get the question, ‘How does Lance do it?’ My first thought is, well he didn’t get where he is by sitting on the couch eating potato chips, but people don’t want to hear that! The truth is he made sacrifices and committed himself to a goal. Of course he trained and trained and trained… If you can, visualize Lance training 7 days a week, 5-6 hours a day, with weather conditions ranging from freezing rain to blistering heat.”
Consultant and author Jim Rohn puts a business spin on this first step of “toil awhile.” He says when you look at the highly successful individual in any field, you walk away saying to yourself: “It’s no wonder he’s doing so well. Look at everything he’s doing.”
And that, my friends, is a mighty good test of whether or not you’re on the journey to success. If I followed you around for a week and painstakingly recorded how you spent your time, what you did every day to advance your career or business, hopefully I would wind up saying, “It’s no wonder you’re doing so well. Look at everything you’re doing.”
Sometimes we fool ourselves and think we’re putting in the effort, when we’re really just going through the motions. Many people are out of work these days, and I’ve often heard them say, “I sent out 100 resumes and I didn’t get any response. I did everything I could.” And they think they’ve put in 100 percent effort!
One hundred percent effort means that you’ve exhausted every possible opportunity for reaching your goal. If you’re looking for a job, 100 percent effort would include researching individual companies you want to work for, sending these companies personalized letters, calling to follow up, calling other people in the industry, and networking.
One hundred percent effort means telling a potential boss you really want to work for, “I’m sure you’ve got a lot of applicants here. But I believe so strongly in my ability to meet your needs, I’ll work for you for 30 days with no pay. Let me prove to you my enthusiasm, my integrity, and my ability. In 30 days, evaluate my performance. If it’s not up to par, let me go. But when I prove myself to you, I expect to be given the job and paid for the 30 days of work.”
Now that’s putting in 100 percent effort! And that’s what you need to do to succeed in any area of life.
So what am I saying? Bottom line? SUCCESS IS MORE OFTEN THE RESULT OF HARD WORK THAN THE RESULT OF TALENT.
It’s an absolutely critical point. You’ve got to “toil awhile.” Don’t ever forget it.
=> 2. Endure awhile.
What a nasty word … “endure.” Most of us … maybe all of us … would like to come by success the “easy” way. We want it to fall into our laps.
But that’s an extremely rare occurrence. 99.99% of the time, success comes AFTER we “endure” awhile.
As someone once said, pain, sickness, disappointment, setbacks, tragedies, death, and other adversities are always chasing us. And at least three or four times a year, one or more of those things will catch up to us or someone we care about.
So we’ve got to learn to “endure.” All the greats in every field of endeavor have learned how to “endure.”
As professional tennis player Bjorn Borg noted, “My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.”
Could the same be said of you? That you never give up? That you endure?
Or do people … secretly behind your back … say you bail out when things get a little tough? Do they say you give up way too easily or throw in the towel too quickly? Do they point out the fact that you seldom finish what you start?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, let me urge you to hang in there … to “endure” a little longer. As John Quincy Adams noted, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” In other words, there’s power in perseverance.
And if you’re not convinced, try a little exercise. Write the name of your challenge at the top of a sheet of paper. Put a line down the middle.
At the top of the left-hand column, write down the words, “What I stand to gain by quitting or delaying.” Jot down all the good things you get if you fail to persevere. Most likely it will be a short list.
As time management consultant Edwin C. Bliss advised, “Never let the difficulty of a task stand as an adequate reason for not acting; force yourself to identify precisely what is to be gained in the long run by delay. In most cases you’ll find you can’t.”
At the top of the right-hand column, write down the words “What I stand to lose if I quit.” Jot down those potential losses. Your list will probably be longer.
So there you have it … 2 of the 4 points on your Journey to success: 1) toil awhile, and 2) endure awhile. In next week’s “Tuesday Tip,” I’ll address the other two points.
Action: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best on the Endurance Scale, how would you score yourself? 1 = wimping out and quickly giving up. 10= never, never giving up.