“Most people knock on the door of their dreams once, then run away before anyone has a chance to the open the door.
But if you keep knocking, persistently and endlessly, eventually the door will open.”
— Les Brown
95% of the world will never be successful — even though they could be if they wanted to.
Most of these people don’t fail to succeed — in fact, they rarely even reach that stage.
They fail before the even get there, because they don’t even make an effort.
They knock on the door to their dreams once, and run away before anyone even has a chance to open it.
Consistency Will Make You Feel Like a Loser
“Success comes through sustained effort.” -Todd Brison
Consistency is hard. Yet it’s the only way to lasting success.
When you first start out, your work doesn’t get recognized. As radio host Ira Glass put it, “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.”
Even we know our work isn’t that good. This is only affirmed by the lack of attention and engagement we experience.
We write dozens of posts. Somehow, we keep going despite zero feedback or any perceived traction. All the while, it seems like everyone is racing past you. You want to quit.
This is what consistency looks like. Because your 42nd article is the one that goes viral — articles 1–41 didn’t get any attention at all.
Most people fail before they even get a chance to succeed. In the face of discouraging returns, most people turn resentfully towards the ones who are winning. Everyone loves them.
“Why even try?” they grumble to themselves in frustration.
Then it’s over.
You need to be OK with feeling like a loser during this time. That’s what consistency makes you feel like — a loser. A nobody. A fraud, a fake, an impostor.
But these feelings are actually an integral part of the age-old principle of success:
Success takes hard work, usually with no recognition, before you can achieve success.
When You Are Consistent, You Often Win By Default
“A common characteristic of all successful people is that they produce a substantial body of work in their lifetime.” -Benjamin P. Hardy
For every week you continue, dozens of others quit.
Every day you keep working is a win. Every hour of effort is a victory. Most people stop doing even the most basic work towards a goal.
Consistency beats talent. It beats skill, luck, and good intentions.
Frankly— consistency often beats quality.
Most people won’t last on their journey towards achieving true success. Why? Because they are unwilling to put in slow, unsexy work, every day. They are unwilling to continue without seeing instant results.
Fortunately for the rest of us, this serves as fuel when we begin to lose hope. Giving up is so common. It’s everywhere. It’s how the overwhelming majority of people respond to discouragement.
We need only to keep going to gain the edge over everyone else — the quitters. One word, one paragraph, one article, one day at a time.
Our work may seem subpar and mediocre — but this consistency almost always beats talent, skill, or even quality.
The “failure” of producing work that doesn’t get recognized yet isn’t a failure at all — it’s merely another step up the mountain of your success. Every step is a success, because most people never even make it past the first slope.
In the eyes of those at the bottom, being halfway up the mountain is a monumental success. Most people have never experienced being that high, because they always gave up before that point.
Anyone can make an effort. Anyone can make a continuous effort. Yet people rarely do — they prefer to make excuses, blame external factors, and give up.
But you don’t have to. You just have to keep going.
20 Steps in One Direction
Success is 20 steps in one direction, not one step in 20 directions.” -Benjamin Hardy
One of the most important parts of success is putting in time and effort every day.
This structure is best applied when a large portion of the work is devoted to a small number of projects, as opposed to small portions of work spread over to several projects.
This means you have to say “no” more. You can’t achieve meaningful and lasting success when you give 5% to 20 different tasks. You can achieve this success when the lion’s share of your attention is spent on 2–3 tasks, max.
Anything to which you apply consistent focus will show progress.
But if you don’t have enough focus to go around, your effort becomes thin, diluted, and minimal.
The average person is juggling a million things on their mind, all the time. They’re worrying about emails they haven’t responded to, a variety of work projects, their commute, social media, the screenplay they’re writing, the podcast they’re creating, and what to eat for dinner.
The extraordinary person is able to narrow their focus and energy on a select few areas, and so achieve extraordinary results.
When my wife and I moved to South Korea to teach English for a year, we left out very busy lives at home.
The year before we left, I graduated from full-time grad school, published an eBook, finished a craft beer certification, started a podcast, all while working full-time.
In whatever free time we had, we typically went out to breweries and bars, hung out with friends/coworkers, watched a lot of TV, saw family and friends, and worked on side projects.
But in Korea, my life boiled down to 4 things: work, writing, spending quality time with my wife, and playing basketball.
I was able to ramp up my effort and results for my writing like never before.
To protect this lean schedule, I had to constantly say no to “good” opportunities that weren’t “great:” podcast interviews, basketball coach, private tutor, remote career coaching, musician for a local church.
Robert Collier once said “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Consistency and a series of purposeful actions will transform the way you work and hone in your chosen craft.
Success isn’t one step in 20 directions.
It’s 20 steps in one direction.
If you keep taking steps in a single direction, you’ll arrive at success faster than you think.
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