The Guaranteed Path to Success

This could be the most over-inflated headline in the history of media. Does it actually say, “The Guaranteed Path to Success”? Who would ever write such a ludicrous title?

Is it just to be provocative? Is it just there to catch your attention and get you to read this article?

No (well, a little maybe).

The longer title for this article is “The long, desperately boring, monotonous, tedious and terribly boring path to guaranteed success”.

If that was the title, would you read on?

Here’s a thought…

Most people already know how to be successful. The roadmap is there. The instructions are simple. The problem is, we don’t like what they say. The journey is too long. The steps are too boring. We want the short-cuts. We want the sexy and exciting version.

Here’s another provocative statement…

Most people who dream of success fall short because they’re looking for the ‘hacks’.

Where’s the evidence?

I say this with over 25 years of experience working with world class performers. When I say, “world class”, I’m talking about world champions, world record holders and world number one’s. And in all those years, I’ve never met anyone who has become genuinely successful (sustainably successful for many years) by taking short cuts or using hacks. They don’t opt for the easy route or the revolutionary new approach.

Instead, they go old school.

They choose the long, desperately boring, monotonous , tedious and terribly unsexy route. They choose hard graft and long hours. They choose blood, sweat and tears. And, guess what?

It works… time after time!

History is littered with examples of people who have followed the boring, hard-work, route and become massively successful. If you ever want to find the ‘magic formula’, just dig into their stories. Find out what it took. Get a feel for their day-to-day experience.

Over the years, I’ve worked with loads of elite swimmers. Some have gone on to become truly world class athletes – Olympic medallists and world record breakers. They’ll often talk about getting up at daft o’clock on the morning, every morning, for years on end, and the countless number of hours “staring at the black line” on the bottom of the pool.

It’s not sexy! It’s not glamorous!

The REAL secret to success.

Brother Colm O’Connell, who has coached a host of world class Kenyan distance runners (including athletes like David Rudisha), was asked what the secret to their success was. He explained that it’s very simple.

Eat. Sleep. Run.

That’s it. Nothing else.

The difference between their programme and everyone else’s, is that other athletes add to this recipe. They might add media work. They might spend time promoting themselves on social media or doing sponsorship work. They might cram in meetings with their agent to assess commercial opportunities.

That’s not part of the Kenyan formula. Those extras don’t feature in the very boring, but extremely effective, Kenyan formula.

Many people get distracted. They get bored with doing the same old thing, so their mind goes looking for something more interesting. Instead of searching for something interesting, truly successful people keep doing more and more of the boring stuff. Instead of looking for short cuts or hacks, they dedicate themselves to doing the same thing better and better, every day, for years.

I call it “Relentless Focus”.

The problem is… they make it look easy.

A few years ago, a woman came up to me as I walked off stage. I’d just delivered a Keynote to the Global Leadership Conference of a multi-billion dollar corporation. She said, “You’re such a natural”. “Thank you”, I replied, “So far, it’s taken me fifteen years to become a natural”.

Part of the problem is that, when we look at successful people, we only see the tip of the iceberg. We only see their public successes. We see the athlete competing at the Olympic Games… standing on the podium… receiving the medal. We don’t see the bulk of the iceberg that lies beneath the surface. We don’t see the many thousands of hours that got them there. We don’t see the injuries or the set-backs, the soul searching or the heartaches.

Many people think of Albert Einstein as a natural genius. They don’t know that he wasn’t offered the opportunity to study a full time PhD by Zurich Polytechnic, because they didn’t see him as one of their brightest students. Most people don’t know that took a job in the Patent Office and studied the General Theory of Relativity in his own time. Or that, after publishing his paper, he had to wait eight years for another group of scientists to corroborate his findings. Instead, they see him being awarded a Nobel Prize and recognised as a genius. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If you want to become successful, you have to build the iceberg. You need to focus on the eighty percent that’s below the surface… the bit that no-one sees… not just the twenty percent that pokes out the top.

As the old saying goes, “Champions are made while nobody is watching”.

Something to ponder on…

Throughout my work and studies of world class performers, I’ve noticed there are a few questions that really help us understand the path to success.

What do successful people do, that others don’t do… or won’t do?

What is everyone else trying to avoid?

What’s everyone else trying to short-cut?

Many people love the idea of being successful, but don’t want to do what it takes. They want the tip of the iceberg, but the don’t want to create the rest of it. Some people ask, “What will it take to be successful?”. Then they find out what it takes, and they do it. Others hope that what they’re currently doing, or like doing, will be enough.

What do you do?

Do you fancy taking the guaranteed path?

If so, take a look at this…