Radical Success Takes Radical Work

I tweeted yesterday about the key to getting results being hard work. That thinking hard doesn’t equate to hard work at all.

Someone replied, joking that they wished they got the results from just thinking, because they had a problem with the work part. That’s kinda the problem.

We’ve become a culture of waiting for results to happen rather than putting in the hard work needed. Giving up things you love. Making tough choices.

Failure comes first

The truth is, success is rarely an accident.

When someone fails a ton of times then succeeds, the headlines are usually about a regular person turned good. I don’t think that’s the whole story. Failure’s often a precursor to future success. In fact, I’d say it’s almost a requirement.

Failure breeds success

As a Brit I find the US tech culture of celebrating failure fascinating. Across the pond we hate it. Failure is something that’s to be avoided at all costs.

There’s an assumption that if you fail at something you are a failure. To be honest it kinda sucks.

In reality it’s tough to succeed without a bit of failure first. Trial and error almost always helps. Learning from your own mistakes is a sure-fire way to improve yourself for the next time.

Taking that into account, failure’s probably the best way to succeed. If you go into every venture with the knowledge that you’ll probably fail there’s less pressure. And you might just change the world.

Winning isn’t success

We all know a person that’s waiting to win the lottery. Waiting for money to just be thrown their way.

It’s obvious from the outside how ridiculous this is. Even if this person did win money, it’s unlikely it’d last very long.

You can tell from their laundry list of ideas. “I’d do this, and this, and this, and…”. Give me a break.

You’re not going to feel successful by winning money because you haven’t earned it. It’s not yours. It belongs to someone else.

Success is in part feeling good about yourself. And that’s just not something you can do when you’ve lucked yourself into a (very) small fortune.

You can make it easy for yourself

I don’t think fail a lot and avoid lotteries is very actionable advice though. The world’s a complicated place, and that ain’t gonna cut it.

You can vastly improve your chances of success by putting in more work. Not necessarily trying to fail, but being there when other people aren’t. Doing the things that don’t scale. Trying harder than your peers.

Today I woke up at 4am. I’m sitting in an otherwise empty commercial building on the crossroads in a small village. The only contents of this unit are me, my laptop, a conference table, and a whiteboard. I don’t have WiFi. I haven’t even had my coffee yet.

The path to success means rejecting the status quo

Sure, I’m generally an early riser anyway. But in reality I’d rather be in bed right now. Drinking coffee. Working out. Any number of other things.

But I’m here. I’m here because I’m more creative in the mornings and I have this post to write. I’ll probably write three more today, but none as quickly or as well as this one.

You can always add things to your day that make it more productive.

  • Write a chapter of your book while you’re waiting for your kids at soccer practice
  • Listen to a podcast while you’re doing the dishes
  • Get an early night so you can wake up fresh and get to the office an hour before your coworkers
  • Instead of taking that holiday you want, invest that money in a home office (I just did this one)

By making your day more efficient and doing better than your peers, you’re laying the foundations of your future success. Future you will thank you.


I’m just a guy from the UK that’s okay at writing, better at startups, awesome at making coffee.

I curate a weekly email digest and publication called Starting Up.

This is day 82 in a 365 day writing experiment. You can check out why I’m writing every day here.

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