So often we think success is difficult. We look at ourselves as inferior without the potential to be successful. We see people around us that accomplish things and our minds rationalize that they were just lucky, or genetically gifted, born in the right family, or under the right star.
We see the celebrity and see them as a special snowflake that was predetermined for success. We see our bosses at work and look at them as somehow much more gifted than ourselves. We look at a singer or songwriter and think “I could never do that.”
The reality is, that’s all mind-made myth.
As I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve realized that success is pretty simple; you just keep showing up, putting in the time, and eventually things happen. Success comes from simply being willing to put in time and effort over and over and over again and be willing to fail over and over and over again.
Keep showing up. Keep putting in time. Trust in your faculties. You’re not inferior. You’re not superior. That’s the bottom line. 80 percent of success is just showing up and putting in time and effort.
Michael Jordan puts it beautifully in this commercial. Of course Michael Jordan had natural talent and ability. However, so do lots of people. It wasn’t until he put in massive amounts of time and failed over and over again did he succeed at the game of basketball.
Your Brain wants to draw conclusions
So why do we neglect to see the truth about success?
So what does it do? It looks to draw conclusions (prematurely).
Let’s say you go snowboarding for the first time. Let’s say you also have an identity where you think that you’re not an athlete. Naturally you fall down a lot your first few times attempting this new endeavor (just like everyone else would). Thought loops begin to start up “you’re not good at this, you lack the ability.” Old memories of gym class being the ‘awkward’ kid start to surface. You see your friend who has snowboarded for the past 10 years sliding down the mountain effortlessly.
Your mind conveniently deletes the fact that he’s been doing it for over 10 years and zooms in on the fact that he’s better at this than you are.
While he’s having fun you’re busy falling on your face. Right about at this point you lizard brain wants to draw a conclusion. It wants to draw a conclusion that will protect it’s ego and view of itself. It will likely draw a conclusion that “snowboarding just isn’t for you, you lack the athletic ability.” So what happens from this? You quit after day 1. Your lizard brain links up pain to snowboarding and stores up another memory of a failed athletic quest thus reinforcing your old “I’m inferior” belief.
In this example did you really lack the ability to snowboard? Of course not. You sucked your first time just like everyone else did. The issue in this example is that you brought into the situation an preconceived belief about your abilities, and then you quit showing up because of your brains desire to draw conclusions. You simply never put in the time that is required to get good.
Can you think of another example like this? I guarantee we have all let our lizard brains draw false conclusions like this before.
The 10,000 hour rule
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a terrific book called “Outliers” where he explains the reality of what it takes for people who are successful at their craft.
In the book he goes over many examples and points out a few principles. One of those principles is the 10,000 hour rule. The rule is simple, it requires a significant amount of time in which a person allocates directed effort to master a craft. His claim is that it requires 10,000 hours to become truly proficient at something.
The 10,000 hour number may or may not be completely accurate. The thing to focus on here is the principle. The principle is: success at anything requires significant amounts of time, effort, and sacrifices. Sure we all have different natural talents, predisposions, and abilities but real success requires putting in time and effort. It doesn’t come easy for anyone.
This is why 80% of success is showing up
2,288 Hours of Strength Training Example
“No one can believe that I am natural. The most important drug is to train like a MADMAN – really like a madman. The people who accuse me are those who have never trained once in their life like I train every day of my life.” -Alexander Karelin
Here’s a personal example from my life. I recently turned 28 years old. On my birthday I was thinking about my life, what I’ve accomplished, what I haven’t, my failures, my successes, who I am as a person and man, and who’d I’d like to be. I determined that one of the major successes I’ve had is transforming my body. I started calculating out how much time and dedication I have put into strength training specifically:
I Started lifting weights at age 16. Took one year off from age 17-18. From age 18 to 28 I have remained absolutely consistent week in week out, day in day out. In fact, I can safely assume I’ve averaged around 4 hours a week of gym time through these years.
11 years X 52 weeks/year X 4 hours/week = 2,288 Hours.
That’s not 10,000 hours but it’s at least 2,200 more hours than the average person and putting in that time has taken me further with the development of my body then I ever thought possible. And no, steroids were never used and never will be despite idiots not believe that I haven’t done them.
After graduating with my bachelors degree I was a lost puppy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I thought I’d try my hand at law school. So I went on a journey of mastering the LSAT (law school admittance test). Believe it or not I was able to score in the 95th percentile on the LSAT simply by just showing up and putting in time. I’m not some outlier genius. On the LSAT I simply out-worked people.
When I took my first practice test I scored horribly. I was in 36th percentile which is an embarrassment and will hardly get you into any law school. From there I realized I could either a. quit or b. create a system for success. I ended up choosing the latter.
I created a system for success where I studied about 6 hours a day, every morning from 6am til noon for 3 months. I was 100% committed and focused everyday. This equaled out to about 540 hours of hard-work. Because of this I jumped my score up to the 95th percentile by the time I took the real deal. What did most people do? Put in an hour here and there. Then they all called me a genius when I scored better than them.
“The thoughtless, the ignorant, and the indolent, seeing only the apparent effects of things and not the things themselves, talk of luck, of fortune, and chance. Seeing a man grow rich, they say, “How lucky he is!” Observing another become intellectual, they exclaim, “How highly favored he is!” And noting the saintly character and wide influence of another, the remark, “How chance aids him at every turn!” They do not see the trials and failures and struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their experience; have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of the undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have exercised, that they might overcome the apparently insurmountable, and realize the Vision of their heart. They do not know the darkness and the heartaches; they only see the light and joy, and call it “luck”; do not see the long and arduous journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call it “good fortune”; do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it “chance.”
In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not. “Gifts,” powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.” -James Allen
The message here is really simple: just stick with it.
Whatever you are trying to accomplish, just keep showing up. If you put in the time and effort, you are highly likely to succeed at basically anything.