Arts Entertainments

Successful people do weird things

Those damn successful people. They always seem to be luckier, richer, prettier, and smarter. It’s just not fair. Why do they get all the breaks? Why can’t I drive a luxury car, spend long weekends in a luxurious vacation home, and have my kids respect and admire me as such successful people?

It’s easy to explain the other person’s success as a result of their luck, intelligence, or marriage to the right family. While those factors occasionally propel someone to a higher plane of success, there is usually more to it than that. We see the nice clothes, the exclusive neighborhood and the country club membership and we envy the person who ‘made it’.

What we don’t see, however, are the years of sacrifice and long hours it took for Mr. Successful to achieve that status. He’s the guy who competed on the kickboxing circuit and, next door, sold karate uniforms from the back of his truck. Twenty-five years later, he has a successful global martial arts equipment company. Sure, it’s impressive now, but he paid his fair share by struggling to put gas in his truck to make it to the next tournament. He spent long hours training to compete while balancing the books for his fledgling company. We’d consider it a huge success now, but it’s because it made things disgusting. He made the phone calls. Negotiated deals with suppliers. You hired employees when you weren’t sure you could afford them. I sweated when doing payroll, and occasionally I didn’t.

But he persevered. He stayed with that. He did what competitors do. He got back up when he was knocked down. He kept his dream in view, even if it got a little cloudy at times. He got out of bed before other people. I work until late. He worked on weekends. He lost money part of the time. But he stayed with that. Because that’s what winners do. That’s what black belts do.

She is the Olympic swimmer who gets up at 4:00 am when it’s 18 degrees outside so she can practice a couple of hours before school. She is the same swimmer who chooses not to go to the soccer game with her friends because she needs to study and needs to get up early the next morning to drive three hours to go swimming.

He is the sales associate who has won the top sales award for the last five quarters in a row. Not because I’m smarter or luckier. It’s because he makes two more calls than any other team member, every day. They reject it more than anyone else in the company. But it also makes more sales than anyone else. Like Babe Ruth, he led the league in home runs and, at the same time, led the league in strikeouts.

It’s because you’ve taken the time to write down your sales goals and the specific steps to reach them. It’s because he spent his weekends going to sales and motivation seminars, with his own money, in an effort to bring the nice things to his family.

It’s not much fun getting out of a warm bed when it’s easier to hit the snooze button. It’s gross staying at work late when you’d rather be at home watching Monday Night Football. It’s a hassle to follow up on sales calls with thank you notes, knowing that only about 8% will result in a sale. It’s hard to put that money aside in your retirement account when your friend is showing off his new boat and going to the lake every weekend. It’s hard to order the grilled chicken salad when your friends are eating the fried chicken fillet with mashed potatoes and gravy.

But ultimately, it is the accumulation of those disgusting things that results in their success. Raises, promotions, personal health, and achievement come after years of disciplined effort. You see the new popular singer on the music charts. Wow, an overnight sensation! What you don’t see are the years he spent traveling, living on mac and cheese, playing chubby nightclubs, waiting for that big jump.

Sure there are some people who find themselves in a fantastic situation with little or no effort on their part. But the vast majority of people we consider successful become that way one day at a time, doing the little things that most people aren’t willing to do. What will it be for you? How bad do you want it? You choose! Will you say, “Forget it, I’m not going to do that,” or will you say, “Yuck, this is gross! But I know this is what it takes. And the sooner I start, the sooner I’ll get to my goal!”

Go do something disgusting!

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