As the quote to the left from Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba.com shares, it takes work. A LOT of work, to have a shot at being successful. And when I say “shot”, that is accurate, as there are no guarantees. To use yet another sports analogy, there are plenty of people who had achieved a certain level of play and not got any better. It is not JUST a factor of time, but the quality and consistency of the work you put as well as several other factors.
When I started out as a brand new racquetball player, I wanted to get better right away. But I knew I didn’t know what I needed to know, and I certainly didn’t know what I didn’t know either. There was a lot of ground to cover, and I wanted to play at the highest level I possibly could. Therefore, I required help. I took some lessons from a few different people throughout different stages of my career. Each day I drove almost 30 minutes to the racquet club where the best players in town played, and I spent as much time with them as I could. I asked questions, I watched matches, I watched how they practiced. I took notes, and I implemented what I thought was the best things from a bunch of different people. This greatly expedited my advancement, despite getting a late start.
As I continued to improve and grow as a player, I learned what did and did not work for me. There were certain things I couldn’t do as a player, and I had to abandon these tactics for alternative approaches that I could utilize. Eventually I learned that my game style was an expression of who I am as a person, the things I bring to the table. The approach I took to racquetball was the same approach that I took to everything else in my life. Again, just putting in time is not enough, and I am not world class at everything I do simply because I figured out how to be world class at racquetball.
Having learned how to achieve results in one area of my life made it easier to do so in other areas. The formula is the same to a large degree. The details vary, but the process is extremely similar, regardless of the endeavor. So when I went into sales as a career, I did the same thing. Here is an example. My Dad and I were headed on a fishing trip to Farmington, NM the week before I started my new job in medical sales. I had asked for some information to learn ahead of my starting in a brand new field, since I really didn’t know anything about what I would be doing. During that seven hour drive I taught myself the basic concepts of how to do some of the trauma procedures I would eventually be responsible for later on. I did the work, I prepared, and set myself up for success. Not overnight, not within a year, but eventually, to be successful in that vocation. When I left that field, I repeated the process elsewhere.
Here is your takeaway:
Success takes work. There are no shortcuts.
You have to do the work, learn the lessons and learn on the go. When you see someone who seemingly pops up as a social media influencer, or an athlete who makes a huge splash in their sport “all of the sudden”, it is simply because they were not a household name yet. That new band that suddenly is everywhere didn’t just start practicing last week; they had been at it for years. They played in front of six friends , made no money, and hoped and prayed they would break through.
This is true for everyone trying to accomplish something beyond the ordinary. They were doing the work in the shadows, before anyone knew who they were. They were grinding. They did it for a shot at glory. No promises, no guarantees. And for those who make it, all of the struggles were well worth it. For those who don’t get to stand on the podium, know that your time was not wasted. The effort you put in changed you, elevated you, made you better. You learned about yourself and you grew as a person. These are things valuable beyond measure, and lessons and experiences that most only dream about or watch from the outside.