I’m tired of hearing about overnight successes, aren’t you? Sure, it makes for a great headline when an unknown band has a hit song, an author hits the bestseller list, or a guy at the office moves up into management in record time. It makes for an interesting story.
In an ideal world, we all want to reach our goals and become smashing successes overnight without all the hard work, tears, and sweat. But there’s a problem with that narrative.
Nine times out of ten, that overnight success was decades in the making. We just don’t often hear about it because it’s not the exciting part of the story. The authors who hit it big with their first published book has spent years crafting their skill. They’ve had dozens of manuscripts and drafts rejected before hitting it big with their overnight success.
The same goes for your favorite band, actor, director, and even the guy doing what you’re doing, who seems to climb the ladder of success much faster, skipping rungs along the way.
In the business world it took Apple and Starbucks over 20 years to Scale Up!
Success doesn’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t expect it to happen for you. It takes work and time. That’s why some of the best basic success skills you can develop are patience and persistence.
The two work hand in hand. If you can make yourself chip away and make a little progress every single day, and have the patience to wait for that work to accumulate, you will be able to reach even the loftiest goals.
Be prepared to be in this for the long run. Go ahead and set those lofty success goals for all areas of your life. Then draft a roadmap that will lead you to your goal. You’ll need one for each major goal you want to accomplish. Work in some milestones along the way to mark your progress.
With that done, your next step is to determine what you need to do on a daily or weekly basis to work towards that first milestone.
Next, your patience and persistence come into play. Get in the habit of working towards your goals regularly. Having the roadmap and steps will help you figure what you should do. Patience and persistence will help you make sure it gets done.
Milestones help you realize and celebrate your progress. Think of them as frequent reminders that persistence pays off and that it requires patience to reach those really big goals.
Some people seem to get all the lucky breaks, don’t they? While there are probably times and circumstances where luck seems to come into play, nine times out of ten, success isn’t a result of being lucky.
It’s just that we don’t see all the hard work and focus that’s gone into it. We aren’t aware of the long hours that someone put into that side business or the additional project that resulted in the promotion. We don’t see others working through the night and giving up fun weekend excursions to make progress on the tasks they’ve set themselves.
We also don’t see all the failures and setbacks that happen along the way. We don’t like to talk about those, and neither do successful people. As a result, we assume that it was smooth sailing for the person who’s successful. Usually, the opposite is true. We learn best from our mistakes and often make the most progress after a major failure or setback.
When you face a setback or failure, you have two choices. You can call it quits, or you can figure out what went wrong, adjust, and move forward.
Can you guess which choice successful people make? That’s right, they learn from their mistakes and get right back to work.
This kind of persistence and discipline doesn’t come easily to most people. It takes effort, and it requires you to build habits that reinforce these skills on a daily basis.
Make yourself work towards one of your goals on a daily basis. Don’t give up when you fail or when things simply aren’t working out. Instead, reflect on what you’ve done and what you could have done differently. Implement those changes and get back to work.
Persistence and discipline are skills you learn. We are not born with these abilities. Some people were lucky enough to acquire them in childhood and others learn them much later in life. But that’s ok.
I’m here to tell you that they are essential skills and ones worth getting better at if you want to become successful and build the life of your dreams.
There’s no time like the present to start working on that “overnight” success. What can you do today to help you make progress? Go and do that.
Then come back tomorrow and take the next step, and the next, and so on. Get in the habit of doing something every single day to move in the right direction, even if things don’t work out.
Getting back on that metaphorical horse right away and trying again is an integral part of being persistent. Keep practicing discipline and persistence, and they’ll quickly become habits that are part of who you are and how you work.
One of the secrets to success is to set big goals. We have to stretch ourselves and move past our comfort zone to truly become successful. Working towards lofty goals can help us do just that. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
The good news is that if you can work on improving two personal traits or skills, it will become much easier. Those skills are focus and discipline. They work hand in hand to help you reach those goals, no matter how far out of reach they seem.
What Is Focus?
Being able to focus is the ability to concentrate on one particular task at a time. It keeps you from getting distracted and helps you make progress on what’s most important. Focus gives you clarity and purpose.
To get better at focusing on the important task at hand, write them down. Limit yourself to about three things that you should be working on and accomplish today.
What Is Discipline?
Discipline is just as important when it comes to avoiding distractions. It’s the skill to make yourself get things done even when you don’t feel like it. Power through and you’ll feel better for it.
To get better at discipline, you need to practice it daily. Make it a point to not stop for the day until your three important tasks (that give you focus), have been checked off.
Why You Need Both
While there are many other success skills needed throughout life, there’s a reason I’m mentioning these two together.
Discipline helps you work on something day in and day out.
Focus helps you stay on target and not get distracted.
Think of it like going on a long walk towards a specific destination. Let’s say it’s a hike through the woods at the base of a mountain, and the end goal is to make it to the top of the mountain.
Discipline will help you make sure you keep walking even when you’re tired, and when you don’t feel like hiking anymore. Focus on the other hand helps you make sure you pick the best route to get to the top of the mountain.
Without focus, you could end up walking around in circles without making any real progress.
Without discipline, you won’t be able to take the thousands of steps (and make it through any setbacks or difficulties you encounter along the way) it will take to make it to the top.
Remember, a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step, are you ready to take yours?