Overnight success is a myth created because of our failure to see beyond the surface. Success is neither a stroke of luck nor a product of talent. When we see someone achieve great results, we don’t see their efforts and disappointments along the way. All of us dream of success. The huge difference between those who dream and those who make dreams come true is a correct understanding of what success is really about: the process and not just the destination. Here are 5 truths I’ve recently learned about success that I wish I had known earlier.
1) Talent Is Overrated
I used to have blind faith in talent but recently my faith in talent was shaken, and it is a good thing. Let me tell you why. Being talented is exactly like having a super power. You are either talented or not, and there is nothing you can do about it. Before going any further, let me be clear I do not totally disregard talent. It is important but believing that it is the most defining factor in success is a dangerous thought. If you are not talented, then you’re doomed. You can say goodbye to your dreams and cry about your bad luck. Your ideas of how you lack talent can stand in the way of your success. You see someone on TV, and you say, look how talented they are and feel bad about your “talentless self,” failing to see the disappointments that this person has gone through before becoming successful.
After watching Game of Thrones, I realized that talent is overrated. I enjoyed the outstanding performance of Emilia Clarke as Queen Daenerys. I kept telling myself “she is so talented.” There was this one scene that I loved. It was “the victory scene” from the final episode where she gave a speech in a language invented specially for the show. The scene was so powerful that I watched it more than once. Afterwards, I read online that she prepared for that particular scene for two months. The scene was approximately five minutes. She mentioned she rehearsed everywhere. It was only then that it hit me. Hard work and perseverance matter. Emilia Clarke did really well not because she was “just” talented but because she worked extremely hard to get it right.
2) You Define Success
Success takes many shapes and forms. It can be a successful career, your efforts to fight global warming, writing a great book, helping the homeless, etc. It can also be as simple as taking small measures to improve your life like losing weight or quitting smoking. You don’t have to be famous to be successful but your success has to be what you want and not what others want for you. Don’t let others judge your success based on their own standards. There is no age meter for success and definitely no money meter for it. What you accomplish at a certain age or the amount of money you have is completely your business. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Someone may have had a chance you didn’t have so they got there faster. No one knows what you’ve been through. If others see your dreams are insignificant, it doesn’t matter as long as you believe in them. If they see you as a failure, it doesn’t matter because only you know the difficulties you’ve overcome.
3) The Road to Success is Full of Naysayers
When we pursue our dreams, we often think the difficulties maybe time, finances, and our own incompetence. Those might be true. But the often overlooked obstacle to success is the people surrounding you. Just decide to do something different or pick the road not taken, and all hell breaks loose. You will meet some pretty nasty naysayers and doubters who will make you question every decision you make. Their comments go around the same idea: Who do you think you are? Do you really believe you can do that? You can’t make a living doing so and so. I am not saying that everybody is like that. But the truth is you may not always get the support you need. The doubters and naysayers are not always evil people out there to get you. They can be family members who are just worried about you or scared because you’re doing something that they don’t understand. They don’t want you to fail and get hurt. But there are some others who don’t have your best interests at heart. If you succeed, you will make them feel bad about themselves.
I am not telling you here to never take advice. Listen to everyone but try to understand whether it’s a concerned advice or not. Is the person qualified to give you that advice? And in the end of the day, the only person who knows what is best for you is you. They’ve not lived your life. They don’t know anything about your dreams. They are not you. Only you can see the bigger picture. Don’t let others deter you from pursuing what matters most. When I decided to pursue postgraduate studies, a lot of people doubted my decision and kept asking me what was the point. I complained to a friend about their doubts and disdain for my desire to pursue my studies. My friend simply advised me to tell them the most important reason “because I want to.”
4) Success Needs Patience
Dreams do not come true of their own. You must pursue them with vigor. Sometimes, the best plan for success is walking slowly but steadily toward your goals. My favorite story about success is “The Tortoise and The Hare.” We live in a world that believes in fast results and easy fixes. At the beginning of the story, the tortoise did not stand a chance. The odds were not in her favor. How could the tortoise win a race against the fast hare? Everyone would bet on the hare. The hare was deemed as “inherently talented”. In other words, it was physically built to win the race. Success in life, however, requires more than just talent. The tortoise shows us that success is about hard work and perseverance. The tortoise won not because it was gifted with talent but because it worked slowly but steadily toward its goal. You don’t have to be fast or outsmart anyone. You can reach your goals only if you believe in yourself and also if you go on no matter how much time it will take you.
5) Self-Doubt Sabotages Your Chances of Success
While naysayers may discourage you, the one thing that has a chance to sabotage your chances of success is your self-doubt. Self-doubt is that little voice in your head that tells you “You can’t. You cannot succeed because you’re lacking so and so. Maybe others are right about you. You are nobody.” Without silencing that voice, your chances of success disappear. You are what you believe you are. If you believe you can’t, you’re doomed to fail. Walt Disney said “if you dream it, you can do it” and I believe that no advice matters most than from someone who has failed repeatedly and then built one of the largest empires the world has ever seen.
Talent by itself means nothing. There is no such thing as a stroke of luck. It is always a stroke of hard work. If it does not work after 1000 attempts, the 1001 time might be it. Keep working and keep trying, and always maintain a positive attitude. Life is short, so pursue your goals and don’t let your self-doubt or the naysayers dissuade you from pursuing what matters because at the end of the day, people regret what they didn’t do and not what they did. The road to success will always be filled with obstacles. Take pride in every obstacle you remove and move on.