Coming out of church on Sunday, another couple joined my wife and me as we went out for brunch. The first two restaurants were closed, which surprised me because they’re known for their brunch.
But I shouldn’t have been surprised. I was naïve. I realized that when I read the sign on the door that said, “Closed due to lack of staff.” And that despite the fact each restaurant was within five blocks of a university with 16,000 students.
Something doesn’t add up. And yet you, just like me, see that “Now Hiring” sign everywhere.
Something doesn’t add up when thousands of employees at Twitter get super upset because their new boss Elon Musk says they’ll have to work harder. Something doesn’t add up when some elected officials propose a guaranteed paycheck for everyone whether or not they choose to work.
That should tell you we’re in the midst of a culture change. Millions of people want all the results of a super successful life, career, and relationship, but they do not want the time-tested, research-proven process that brings those results.
At the risk of sounding like a spoil sport or a sour puss, the process that leads to over-the-top success is hard work. From speaking to or coaching lots of CEO’s and high-level leaders, as well as the rich and famous, and individual contributors in all industries, the super successful ones all have one thing in common. They have to work hard.
What does that mean for you, if you want to share in that super success?
► 1. You must discard the pop-psychology work myths.
The first myth says that all you have to do is “be aware of your strengths.” And there are a lot of good instruments that will help you identify your strengths.
But all the research in Emotional Intelligence says that’s not enough. You must also have a certain amount of Self-Regulation to get off your butt and actually use your strengths before you experience a great deal of success.
Songwriter Irving Berlin knew this. He said, “Talent is only a starting point in business. You’ve got to keep working that talent.”
And best-selling author Stephen King asserts, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
The second myth is “the law of attraction.” In other words, just think good positive thoughts, focus on what you want to have in your life, career, or relationships, and those things will magically appear. Keep your hopes up.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m a huge believer in and preacher of having a positive attitude. It will keep you keeping on and get you past obstacle after obstacle better than anything else. But that’s not enough to ensure your success in any endeavor.
As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. says in his book On Hope, “Hope is a cactus not a cushion. It should make you jump up and do something.”
He’s right. I’m sure we’ve all come across people who are filled with hope, good thoughts, and positive energy, but not much else. They’re all talk and no action. They talk a good game but their actual results leave a lot to be desired.
Brown went on to say, “Work and hope, but don’t hope more than you work.”
The third myth says “no work is necessary.” It says you can get what you want without any effort. You can luck into what you want.
You’ve seen the ads. Lose 30 pounds in your sleep. Become a millionaire by working ten minutes a day … at home … in your pajamas. Master the art of instant charisma in three easy lessons … or win big in Vegas every time. The only trouble is … they have no verifiable proof for what they claim.
By contrast, I trust the words of the great American poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said, “Shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men believe in cause and effect.”
In other words, successful people cause their own luck … by working on the right things … so they get the effects they want. Successful people seldom, if ever, have enough luck to wait for things to happen. They make things happen.
And one of my mentors, who came as a penniless immigrant to America, who ended up owning several banks and national businesses, and is now the President of Highpoint University, Nido Quebein confirms that. He says, “You may have the loftiest goals, the highest ideals, the noblest dreams; but remember this, nothing works unless you do.”
To be successful at whatever you want, you’ve got to accept the fact that hard work is not an option. It is a process you must use.
And a good place to start is…
► 2. Distinguish between activity and accomplishment.
When I say you need to work hard, I’m not saying that the more hours you put in the more successful you will be. We all know people who work an insane amount of hours and don’t have anything to show for it.
That’s because they confused activity with accomplishment.
Before you engage in any endeavor, clarify your goal. What are you trying to achieve with your hard work?
If you don’t know the answer, if you don’t know what goals you’re trying to achieve, you’ll end up like Alice in Wonderland who asks the Cheshire cat, “Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends on where you want to get,” the cat replied.
“I don’t care much where,” Alice answered.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” the cat responded.
Without clear goals for your hard work, you’ll be busy. You’ll have lots of activity in your life, but you won’t have much in the way of accomplishment.
It’s one of the lessons I taught at the Nestle Purina Company when they asked me to come in and deliver my program on UP Your Attitude. And it’s one of the lessons that Nicole Shockley, a Veterinary Sales Specialist in the audience took seriously.
As Nicole says, “I heard your program one month after I started my first sales job. Using your goal-setting and affirmation techniques, I became one of the top sales people in the organization and even got a promotion. Thank you.”
Yes, work hard, but work with a clear goal in mind. That immediately takes you beyond frantic activity to actual accomplishment. As Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote, “Never confuse motion and action.”