What Determines Success?


Everyone is looking for that one knock-out punch, that secret sauce for success. The more I read and learn, the more I see this magic bullet for success does not exist. As Eddie Cantor said, “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success” We like to look at someone successful and ask them what they did differently in their life, as if it’s one easy answer. However, the reality is that people are rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced for years in private. People grinding it out in the gym, in their businesses, and learning skills when no one is watching are the ones who get ahead.

People with successful relationships, organizations, and endeavours have been at it for years. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule demonstrates this as he argues that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master, or the equivalent of 5 years of full time work. This is further shown in a study by John Hayes of Carnegie Mellon as he studied 500 masterpieces of classical music. He found that only 3 of the 500 pieces were published within the first 10 years of the composer’s career. These composers laid the groundwork for 10 years before they began creating anything great.

The goal is not to take the world by storm overnight. The best thing we can do is take consistent action steps every day and hone our skills in private. Small action steps are sustainable and over time – (5 years, 10 years etc.) the results of this practice will be incredible.

Stay hungry and keep working.


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