The Path To Success


This is one of the best things I have read in a long time. Adrian Savage explains why some people are successful and others aren't, and he nails one of the key components – doing the little things.

Too many of us swallow the prevailing myths of our society: that our problems all lie outside ourselves; and we have to spend time getting our minds and emotions in order-or motivating ourselves-before we can tackle the problems in our lives. Believe either of them and you'll never advance much beyond where you are today. Actions alone make a difference. Not necessarily big, dramatic ones either.

You don't need a life plan. You don't need motivation, self-confidence, peer support or even luck. All you need is the willingness to take the next most obvious step-then repeat the process again and again, regardless of how you feel. Try it. Happiness comes from seeing the results of your efforts. You don't need it before you start.

Exactly. The same is true in business. We don't like to share our ideas for fear that someone will steal them. Our ideas are great and we want someone else to go do the work and let us get paid just for our genius. But ideas aren't really that unique. People that can make them work are.

Those kinds of people take all the little steps that are needed to get something off the ground. Yes, it is boring sometimes. We want to look to the IPO or acquisition or early retirement and riches, but really we need to look at the next sale, the next hire, and the next product. We need to plan, but more importantly we need to focus on the here and now. I think Robert Pirsig explained it well:

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow.

You don't learn how to be an entrepreneur at the moment you cash out. You learn during the day to day grind by solving problems and facing new issues. People often give up because their success isn't easy or instant, yet the process, the daily grind, fighting the good fight, is where you become an entrepreneur. That is where you learn and grow. Keep that perspective and don't spend so much time fanatasizing about the future and you will be much more successful.

How to Keep Your Employees Happy Without Giving Them a Raise

I don't link to new blogs for this very reason. Most of them will quit writing. They blog with hopes of fame or fortune (at least, as much fortune as you can make on a blog) and they don't have the discipline that regular posting requires. It is the same reason people always tell you they are starting diets tomorrow, are going to read that new book soon, have a plan to pay off their debt (but never do), signed up to join a gym (but haven't been)… it is much easier to tell people what you are going to do than what you are really doing or have really done because planning is easy and doing is hard.

My freshman year of high school I was cut from the basketball team, primarily because I wasn't in good enough shape. So I started running. At first I could only go about 1/2 mile without stopping. Then I could do a mile, then two, then 3, and within six months I was regularly running 4 miles. It's been 17 years and I don't think I could ever give it up. For the first few years, I was always tempted to miss. It was raining or too cold or too hot or I was too tired, but over time I came to enjoy the process. Now it's my time to think, and I always feel so good when I am done.

But I am rambling now. The point of all this is that you need to read Adrian's post and instead of mapping out all these grandiose plans for your entrepreneurial endeavors, you need to figure out how to take the next small step. Commit to an hour of industry research this weekend. Commit to lunch with someone that gives good advice. Commit to saving a little bit of money every month to put towards your startup. Each time you complete a step, commit just to the next one, and in a year you will be amazed at how far you have come and how ready you are to launch your business.

  • “You don’t need motivation, self-confidence, peer support?”

    There’s plenty of science behind the value of high aspirations (one part of motivation) and surrounding oneself with like-minded people (peer support) in order to stay on course. And a “postitive self-image” (self confidence)… please! It’s a very a powerful driver of success.

    This is another example of why blogs are likely to make the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy, crazier.

    90% bunk!

  • 90% bunk refers to the linked post Rob not yours. You do make several good points.

    I guess he deserves credit for inspiring you to say something meaningful. It just shows that BS can be good for producing flowers.

  • Rob

    Interesting comments, because I really didn’t see it from that perspective. I’m not sure exactly what Adrian meant, but I thought he was just exaggerating to make the point that those things alone weren’t enough. A lot of books will say all you need is high self esteem and you will be fine. It’s never really one thing though. Life is a lattice in the way ideas, goals, tasks, relationships, etc. all fit together. I don’t think there is any one single path to getting where you want to go, but there has to be enough strands of stuff to build a lattice in the first place.

  • A similar phenomenon exists at the corporate level. In many companies, you will find a “Project X.” It may be a new technology, or an acquisition, or a vast new IT system. It will “take the business to a new level.”

    Meanwhile, the people and products who are actually keeping the business alive, and growing it, are kept on short rations. Until Project X fails. Then they enjoy a brief spurt of attention and resources.

    Until Project Y starts.

  • Nice post. I really enjoyed reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve read it a couple of times over and still occasionally open it and read a passage.