What’s the Most Important Ingredient for Success?
Much has been written about success and what ingredients you need to succeed in any endeavour.
Yet I believe one ingredient rises head and shoulders above them all.
It’s also known as perseverance, endurance or staying power. It’s the ability to continue in spite of difficulties, challenges, obstacles or opposition. It’s pressing on regardless of your feelings. In fact it’s rising above your feelings which often conflict with your better logic.
It’s so important I figured it’s an apt first post on this blog.
Now let me tell you why it’s that important.
#1 Success is trying to throw you off her tail
Since we are all humans, part of human life is problems and obstacles.
Now I can’t predict the future, but it sure as hell doesn’t take a sage or fortune teller to guarantee that one thing for certain is that you will face problems, setbacks and obstacles in life. Probably many of them.
It’s like life’s way for teaching you important lessons, training you and building up your character.
This applies all the more if you desire to achieve success of some kind in your life.
It’s like Success is a picky one. She wants to flush out all the weak hands. To determine how much someone really wants her.
The way she flushes people out is just by throwing a few obstacles here and there to throw you off her tail.
This is normally already sufficient to throw off most people. But let’s say you don’t quit and keep going at it that’s when she kicks it up a notch and starts bringing out the big guns and throwing out the big challenges.
She wants to know. How much do you really want it?
Remember when things get harder and hardest, that’s when you have to persevere the most. It’s a hint that you’re getting close. You’re so hot on the scent that now Success is throwing everything at you desperately in a last-ditch attempt to throw you off.
Here’s an analogy to provide some imagery to help you visualize this better. This is the way I’ve always thought of it.
I’m sure you’ve seen those James Bond movies where the beautiful heroine/damsel in distress has been kidnapped and has been taken away. You know, I’m talking about your classic car chase scene.
The hero Bond is hot in pursuit and the villains are trying to shake him off. They shoot at him, hurl grenades or barrels of explosive powder or even launch a few RPGs in his direction. But that doesn’t shake our hero off. He only has his sight fixed on one goal and he won’t stop no matter what until he succeeds.
It’s kind of like this – here’s a cool Bond chase scene to help you visualize even better.
Okay I do realize in this scene Bond is the one being chased, but hey you get my meaning… I just couldn’t find a scene on Youtube with Bond doing the chasing because I was being picky and specifically wanted Daniel Craig. Come on we all know he is the best Bond. 🙂
Lol okay, jokes aside…let’s continue.
Similarly many people say they want this or that. That they want to start a business or lose 20 pounds but as soon as life throws at them a tiny little road hump or a red light, it’s like it stops them right in their tracks. Then they give up and drive off somewhere else and try to chase the next thing and so on.
Could you imagine if Bond did this and just quit as soon as the first bullet was fired at him? Absurd! It would be unthinkable and laughable.
#2 It’s the lowest hanging fruit to differentiate yourself and gain a competitive edge over others
Since so many people today are so prone to give up and call it quits easily, the way to succeed is just staying for longer.
That’s right, many times success is just a matter of out-persevering and out-staying others. It’s really a case of if you keep at it long enough, you’re going to break through.
That’s it, really. The theory of it is so simple. It’s the doing of it that can get hard and is where all the value is at. So stop theorizing and start doing. You’ve really just got to DO. Persistence and perseverance must become who you are.
Don’t let that it’s hard deter or scare you off. Remember if it were so easy everyone would be successful.
Many people often ask “what does it take to be successful? What do I have to do?” And really this is just such a simple first step to take. It’s the low-hanging fruit that will immediately give you a competitive edge. To borrow a term from economists, it’s the only “free lunch in the market.” It’s the easiest way to put yourself ahead of other people since most people don’t have perseverance and have “weak hands.”
#3 You don’t know just how close you are to breaking through
I love the analogy of digging for gold or diamonds. You never know how close you might be. I love this picture below. The guy has been digging and digging and it’s been difficult and he’s had to fight for every inch. But as he kept going it got more and more difficult and he felt he was going nowhere and was just digging dirt. He gave up. But it’s because he couldn’t see how close he was and how far he had come. If only he knew how close he was.
What a tragedy. You almost feel bad for the guy. This is one of life’s great tragedies. Going 99% of the way and giving up before the last 1%.
Don’t you think it’s such a shame he went 99% of the way only to give up at the finishing line at that last 1% and not reach his destination. Now someone else might just come and continue his work and hits pay dirt thanks to the previous guy’s efforts.
#4 Because Sun Tzu said so…
Well not exactly, but let me explain…
Consider the following words from Sun Tzu’s legendary The Art of War (#1 Bestseller in its category on Amazon):
Invincibility lies in one’s own hands, but the enemy’s vulnerability is of his own making. Thus, those skilled in war can make themselves invincible but the enemy’s vulnerability is provided only by the enemy himself…
He wins by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes means already having established the certainty of victory; conquering an enemy who is already defeated.
Ponder this for a minute.
But…that’s…like…deep stuff bro…what’s that even mean?
I’m glad you ask. You see giving up is you defeating yourself. You’re basically failing by default. Or failing by “unforced error” to borrow a tennis term.
The world is already a pretty harsh and unforgiving competitive place. You know, survival of the fittest and all that jazz.
The point is there’s already 101+ reasons you could fail, reasons both within or out of your control. So the least you can do is to not shoot yourself in the foot by losing due to your own fault of giving up.
To clear things up, I believe what the Great Strategist meant by “making no mistakes” isn’t that you’re not allowed to fail. There’s many times certain types of failure can in fact be great because you gain validated learning and important lessons from it. I believe he was referring to making avoidable “stupid mistakes.”
Clarification and Potential Reversal
Whilst it’s true that the general rule is persistence and “pressing on” is almost always the answer, let us be cognizant that there are times you need to pivot and stubbornly sticking to the same thing is folly rather than wisdom. I’ll write more about this concept in future articles.
But in a nutshell it means that initially you think you want to go somewhere and you try one way to get there. However along the way you learn that it was actually the wrong decision to go there and there’s somewhere much better to go instead. In this case pivoting (changing course/direction) is better than the misguided decision to persevere.
Yes, the above quote credited to President Calvin Coolidge is one of my all-time favourite quotes and I frame it on my wall.