Success is a Dirty Job

“The gold is in the slog.”

It took years before Sara Blakey, the first self-made woman billionaire who developed Spanx, started to get some momentum.

Years.

Let that sink in for a moment. For years, Sara was laughed at, called crazy, had the door slammed in her face, told “no.”

Over and over and over again.

Day after day after day.

For years.

That’s what it sometimes takes.

Actually, that’s not true. I believe that’s what it always takes.

***

When we first hear the stories of what successful people went through before they became a success, there is a temptation to gloss over the slog. The days and weeks and months and years where success wasn’t in sight, when all you can see is the work in front of you.

And there’s no guarantee that work will actually turn into the success we’re hoping and dreaming and sweating and bleeding for.

***

Sometimes success teases us.

Years ago, a man name Paulo Coelho found a publisher for his first book. Hooray! This is the time when most writers crack open the champagne. Someone believes in them! Someone is taking a chance on their book! They’ve made it!

Fame and fortune and glory is right around the corner!

Except … the book didn’t sell that first year. In fact, sales were SO dismal, the publisher cancelled the contract.

So, he managed to get the rights back and went right back to shopping the book to other publishers.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, doors were slammed in his face. He heard “no” over and over again.

For a year.

Yet somehow he found the courage and perseverance to still get out of bed, to still approach another publisher, even though he just heard “no” the day before … even though he had so much evidence of “no’s.”

And, eventually, one of those of publishers finally said yes.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Because it still wasn’t an overnight success.

Even after an American publisher picked it up. Even after that big publishing company did a HUGE launch with full page ads in all the major publications.

It still took years before it finally, FINALLY became a success.

And today, The Alchemist is one of the top-selling books of all times.

***

You get up, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and sit down to write a blog post.

For a blog no one is visiting.

Last week you poured your heart out onto a blog post. On a blog no one is visiting.

And the week before that.

And the week before that.

For months now.

Your friends are telling you you’re wasting your time. Your partner has been dropping gentle hints that maybe you need to be doing something else … something more worthwhile with your time.

So, how do you do it? How do you sit yourself down and write that blog post, knowing that odds this will be the one that finally moves the needle is low? And maybe the blog post that finally breaks through won’t actually happen for another six long months from now.

Or do you?

***

I think part of the problem is how do you know if what you’re going through is simply part of the process or if you’re completely on the wrong path and really should quit?

And, the answer is — you don’t.

Not completely.

Most of the time you’re battling your self doubt and your demons alone, in the slog, day after day.

BUT, I do think there are a few signs you can look for:

  • Do you have any glimpses of success? Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life said if you’re on the right path, you WILL see a few signs. They may be small, but they’ll be there. You WILL hear the occasional yes. People will tell you how much they love what you’re doing. They’ll be there. They may be small and they may be spread apart, but you’ll see them.
  • Is the Universe helping you course correct? When I started a brand new blog, I thought I was doing everything I needed to make my blog as SEO friendly as possible. Well, I ended up having a conversation with someone about something completely different, and in the course of that conversation, she told me a key piece I had been missing. I went back and made the adjustment and started to see improvement just a few weeks later. (Now, it’s important to note, when I said I saw improvement, that doesn’t mean I suddenly had hundreds of visitors from SEO — it means I saw a definitely uptick that continued to slowly grow.)

Course corrections can come in all sorts of ways. Maybe it’s a post on Facebook or a link to a blog post that has precisely the information you’ve been looking for. Maybe it’s an offhand remark someone says. The point is to stay open to what’s being put in front of you.

  • OR is the Universe trying to send you in a different direction? One of my entrepreneurial friends was laid off three times over a period of two years. As she drove home after the third time, her stuff in a box next to her, she finally realized the Universe has been trying to steer her away from a job and toward having her own business. (As many of us are, she was a slow learner, so the Universe had to keep laying her off.)

Basically, being open to the gentle suggestions, nudges or cheering-you-on signs is the best thing you can do for yourself during this time.

Lastly, just remember, when you’ve made it through the slog and you’re standing on the other side … it will be your turn to tell your story and help everyone else feeling lost in the slog.

The slog IS what’s important. Because, if you never went through the slog, you wouldn’t have found the gold.

If you’d like more tips, check out my blog: Love-Based Business — Join the Movement! Build a Biz You Love AND That Loves You Back!