I’m always amazed when, in real life conversations or article comment trails concerning just about any success-related topic, someone inevitably says, “[Insert behavior that isn’t the norm] will never work for me. It simply cannot be done.” Either that or they quickly dismiss someone else’s success as the product of luck, incredible timing that can never be replicated, or some other gift sent down from the gods. Instead of examining what makes a person successful, they choose to blind themselves to the options and opportunities available to them.
Choosing to be blind is easy. It’s very easy to sit back and disparage someone’s achievements, whether it’s early retirement, publishing a novel, getting a promotion, starting a business, or any other seemingly impossible feat. It’s certainly easier than doing the hard work of looking at another person’s lifestyle choices and seeing where yours may have prohibited you from reaching their level of success. Much easier to just flop on the couch and complain about the unfairness of life.
Let’s say you’re looking at someone who successfully published a book, since that’s an area with which I’m familiar (but you can apply what follows to any sort of success or goal achievement). It’s easy to whine about how lucky the author was to meet a great agent at a conference, or how a publisher saw their blog and offered a contract, or how someone on Twitter referred them to an agent, or how lucky they were to have the time to write and seek publication at all. What’s missing in all this whining is any kind of acknowledgement of the work that went into the success.
It’s easier to put the blinders on and attribute someone else’s success to fate because if you see what could be different, it puts the burden on you to change.
Okay, the person might have met an agent at a conference. But they took the time to write a great book to pitch, they took the time to travel to that conference, and they did the work necessary to meet that agent. That’s not luck, that’s work. And so what if they had the time to write? Most people have the time, they just choose not to use it to write. If their blog was seen by a publisher, that means that a lot of hard work and creativity went into writing and promoting that blog, otherwise the publisher would never have seen it. Let’s not forget the most important thing of all: They wrote a great book. Nothing else happens without the person putting in the effort to write that book.
But no one wants to look at the work, creativity, and sacrifices that go into success, much less try to replicate them for themselves. No one wants to admit that if they had made a conscious choice to write instead of watch TV, networked more, studied the publishing industry, and worked on their craft that they could be in the same situation as their successful neighbor. Nope. It’s easier to put the blinders on and attribute someone else’s success to fate because if you see what could be different, it puts the burden on you to change. And who wants that?
But imagine what would happen if you chose to see the work that went into that success. Even better, imagine what would happen if you tried to be more like this other person. What if, instead of saying how Sally is so lucky to have the time to write, you put aside the remote control or said “No” to less important activities and used the time to write more? Instead of lamenting Sally’s good luck, what would happen if you put in the hours to learn about publishing, to study the markets, to work on your platform, to write some articles and short stories to build your credentials, and to network with other writers? What if, instead of dismissing Sally’s success as impossible for you, you spent the time to hone your craft and get yourself out there?
Take the blinders off and accept the challenge that comes with seeing how other people achieve success. See where you could do better with whatever goal you want to achieve. See how some other fantastic, creative, smart people live their lives and make their dreams into reality. Many people achieve their goals every day and many of them start with less than you might already have. They succeed because they see what others do not and then they change their actions accordingly.