Something that’s bugged me for years is that the world’s most talented creative people don’t always get the attention they deserve. Maybe you’ve noticed this, too. Fair or not, the most popular artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators aren’t always the ones with the most talent or even the best ideas. And if that bothers you, it should.
The people who succeed—in life and business—are those who understand how the system works, what the hidden rules are, and how to win. And those who don’t appreciate this reality, or dismiss it because it’s “not fair,” sadly miss out.
The good news, though, is we have more control over our success than we realize. For years, I’ve studied what makes creative people successful, and I’ve discovered there are some predictable patterns to how individuals go to the next level. Granted, every person’s story is unique, but not so unique that after thousands of case studies you don’t start seeing trends.
I wrote about this in my book, The Art of Work, when I both acknowledged the myth of the self-made man but at the same time identified common themes in the lives of many successful people who discovered their life’s work.
Many of us live as fatalists, leaving our destiny up to the will of the gods or mere circumstance. But success is not a crap shoot. You don’t have to pursue your passion and merely hope to succeed. The truth is you have more ability to influence the outcome of your efforts than you’re probably giving yourself credit for. You can stack the deck in your favor if you know what to look for.
The hard part, then, is finding the right path. Once you know the rules, you can use the system to beat the system. You can succeed, if you’re willing to change your mind a little. So let’s look at three reasons why now is the time to do this.
“Success is not a crap shoot. You have more control than you realize.”
1. If You Don’t Take Yourself Seriously, Nobody Else Will
We tend to treat people who act like amateurs as amateurs. And people who act the part of the pro receive their due respect. So start acting the part, and the world will soon follow suit. Act as if it were true, and soon it will be so.
That’s Step 1: Own your success and start living in to your new identity.
For eight years I tried to launch multiple blogs, all of which were dismal failures. And then, shockingly, I discovered a way not to fail. What ended up happening next surprised me more than anyone else:
- I built an email list of over 10,000 people in the first year.
- My website attracted over 50,000 people per month.
- I wrote two books, replaced both my wife’s income and mine, then tripled it, and we both quit our jobs.
How did it all happen?
I stopped waiting for my perfect opportunity and took ownership of my success. You have to do the same. There is no perfect opportunity, and you can’t assume someone is going to do this for you. They won’t. This is on you, so you have to take action today.
“Stop waiting for perfect. Take ownership today.”
2. There Will Never Be a Better Opportunity Than Today
The other night, my wife and I were visiting with a couple, and the husband said, “I’ve wanted to write a book for years. But I keep waiting for the right opportunity and it hasn’t come yet. I think I just need to do it.”
He’s absolutely right. You can’t wait for perfect. You just need to act with the information and opportunity that you have now. If you think about it, today is all we really have. And each today presents a new opportunity to do something new, to take that next step.
This is Step 2: Realize now is the best time to begin and start something small today.
This is your life we’re talking about here. If you don’t do this, who will?
The truth is if you don’t start today, you never will. Nobody said you had to finish what you start. You just have to begin. And that can look a lot of different ways:
- Write the first 500 words of that book you’ve been procrastinating starting.
- Jumpstart a fitness routine by walking around the block for 10 minutes.
- Read one page of a book.
- Do one push-up.
- Call one customer.
- Read one blog post.
The point is to commit yourself to something actionable. So buying a gym membership won’t count, but going for a run will. Making a to-do list is just another form of procrastination, but doing one thing on that list isn’t. And so on. You get the idea.
The point of starting something is to create momentum. The faster you get moving, the easier it will be to stay motivated.
“The faster you get moving, the easier it will be to stay motivated.”
3. People Dumber Than You Have Already Done This
We often make the mistake of believing that people who are more successful than us have worked harder. That’s not necessarily true. At a certain point, everyone runs out of hours and energy.
What truly successful people do, however, is learn to work better, smarter. They get more output from the same amount of input as their competitors. And eventually, they blow past their peers.
The same is true of intelligence. It’s not the smartest people who necessarily succeed. It’s the people who use what they have — how much or little — to create the biggest impact.
This is Step 3: Embrace the reality of your abundance. You have more than enough resources to get started.
For years now, I’ve been teaching a popular online course on what it takes to become a professional writer. In this course, called Tribe Writers, we help writers understand that:
- It’s better to focus on your writing voice than to pick a perfect topic.
- Platform is an extension of your identity, so make sure you pick one that fits who you really are.
- Marketing is less about self-promotion and more about making friends.
- If you commit to being relentlessly helpful, it’s only a matter of time before you start getting paid.
The biggest epiphany in teaching over 4500 students is that many of them — mature, intelligent adults — had to be told they had enough, that they were enough. They required permission to begin.
Before I began my own writing journey, I observed that people no smarter than I had surpassed my accomplishments. To be crass about it, people dumber than me were far more successful. What was I doing wrong? Maybe being smart wasn’t as important as I thought.
I realized success relies more on execution than intelligence. It’s not so much how smart you are, it’s what you do with the smarts you have. And it’s not that you need to go around calling people “stupid” but you better be careful if you think your education or intelligence entitles you to not go broke.
“Success relies more on execution than intelligence.”
In Conclusion: Do It, Already
If you’ve been promising yourself that you’ll get your life’s work out there some day, stop doing that. You have everything you need to get started today. Whatever the project, you can’t keep waiting. You have to act now.
To recap, here’s why now is the time to begin owning your success and taking action today:
- Because if you don’t, who will?
- Because if not now, when?
- Because you literally have everything you need to begin.
Don’t wait another minute to become the person you were meant to be. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s an important one. This is a journey, and it will take time. The clarity you seek won’t arrive on your doorstep. You’ll have to fight for it. The good news is no matter difficult the battle, you’ll be moving. And take it from someone who’s waited: it’s not worth it.