The Difference Between You and the People You Admire

What I learned bartending and building a business.

I’ve worked in banking, I’ve worked in startups, I’ve built multi-million dollar programs, I’ve built my own company. And I’ve bartended. (Like, this year.)

People in all these areas of work have a surprising lot in common. There are always people who suffer from imposter syndrome from time to time. People who get crafty with stretching a single task to fill an entire afternoon. People who get cliquey, who play political games, people who are lazy and others aspire to do a lot more.

The only real difference between bartenders and business owners comes down to one thing…

It’s not reading

We’ve already covered that.

It’s not getting up early

Someone else covered that, too.

It’s not intelligence

There are some whip-smart people who get paid wages, and there are people earning half a million a year who are altogether unintellectual.

It’s not fitness

A lot of successful people work out, I’ll give you that. But a lot of “unsuccessful” people work out, too. And not all “successful” people do. I know line cooks who are avid cross fitters, and millionaires who wouldn’t dream of breaking a sweat. Frankly, I call “insufficient data” on whether “working out” is truly causation, correlation, or maybe just coincidence.

It’s not luck

Maybe some got a leg up in life, but there are just as many who got a leg up and let it pass them by, and far more who found their own “leg up.”

It’s amazing the number of bartenders, for example, that have worked in finance or owned their own business (myself included, both counts.) The reason they’re bartenders isn’t because they “didn’t get a break” — it’s because they opted out, dropped out, or otherwise let it go.

It’s not even necessarily “hard work”

You can work your ass off at bartending — and you’ll still be a bartender (albeit probably a successful bartender, if that is what you want.)

The difference is deciding.

i.e., what you want to do. You have to direct that hard work and hustle at something specific.

It’s deciding once. And then deciding again every single day after that.

The difference between people who want something more and people who have it is simple:

One group decided, and kept on deciding, and the other didn’t.

One group set a higher standard than the other. 
And they stuck to that standard again and again afterwards.

One group committed and stayed committed. They chose something, and they chose it again by working for it. And the other didn’t.

One group has grit. The only reason that one wakes up in the morning to the sort of things you think you want is because they knew they wanted them. They took no other alternative as an answer, and held themselves to that standard with everything they did for as long as it took to reach it.

“Deciding” isn’t easy (and it may not even be simple), but on the upside: it’s available to everyone. Including you.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s leading publication for entrepreneurs and startups.

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