When we look at success, whether as a professional athlete or as a businessperson, we tend to overlook the significant sacrifice, hard work, and commitment it takes to reach that position in life. Steve Jobs once said, “Half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” Consider some of the most successful people today—for example, Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen. To put it simply, they worked tirelessly. They willingly invited risk, stress, and challenges into their lives, knowing the rewards justified them. And they continued to hustle and stay resolute no matter how many times they failed. It takes definite self-confidence, passion, and tolerance for adversity. In the case of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Allen said they would put a computer in every household in the US. At that time, it seemed an unbelievable proposition, given the size and expense of computers then. The sheer magnitude of their vision brought tension into their personal and professional lives. Rather than back down, they wrestled with it, and ultimately became triumphant. Consider innovations widely available today. Imagine at the turn of the century, envisioning a world where smartphones would transform our lives—from how we bank or travel to how we communicate and consume information. Even the most creative minds would become skeptical at the thought. Yet someone envisioned this dream and maintained the courage to pursue it no matter how many obstacles stood in the way. 

Success doesn’t represent a lottery ticket. It doesn’t come from luck but from tireless work and remarkable sacrifice. I didn’t wake up one day with the capital I needed to buy Omega. I earned it, only after many years of working seven days a week, taking educated risks, and compiling my wealth. This journey started when I first moved to New Orleans and took emergency room calls because I wanted to build my reputation as a physician. I covered every emergency room in the city, realizing early on that success requires more than just ability, but also affability and availability. I built rapport with important people in the community, and I developed significant insight into how to operate a health-care organization successfully. Everything I learned and accomplished on this journey contributed to my eventual success as an entrepreneur. My work as a physician created the opportunity to own my practice. Health care led to hospitality, which opened the door to real estate, which created opportunities in entertainment, technology, aviation, and so on. One investment created the chance to make another and another. Over time, my opportunities increased, my network expanded, and my knowledge improved, but my underlying commitment to working hard, accepting risk, and embracing challenges remained fundamentally the same. 

Through this journey of success, I also experienced plenty of failures. Yet I didn’t let them diminish my confidence or slow my momentum. Rather, I saw each experience as a learning opportunity. Omega taught me to fight for what I value. Looking back, I could have easily given up, reverted to working as a physician, and allowed Najeeb and the other surgeons to take over. In many ways, I see this as one of the benefits of connectedness. It truly allows us to recognize the full potential of the opportunities afforded to us and recognize that we can always surmount any obstacle with hard work, the right approach, and access to people who can support us along the way.

Taken from We: Ditch the Me Mindset and Change the World. Copyright 2019 by Eric George. Published by Magnusson-Skor Publishing, Denver, CO. Used by permission of author. All rights reserved.

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  • Dr. Eric George

    Founder and CEO

    ERG Enterprises

    Dr. Eric George is an internationally renowned hand surgeon, serial entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and author. He is the founder and CEO of ERG Enterprises, founder and CEO of Hand Center of Louisiana, CEO of Omega Hospital, CEO of HandStand, and chairman of East Jefferson Ambulatory Surgical Center Nationally regarded as among the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in the Southeastern United States, George brings exceptional expertise in the area of small business. Over his 27-year career, he has established several healthcare organizations, which he continues to lead and credits for teaching him how to grow an enterprise consistently beyond the startup phase. He has also developed a proven track record for investing in small businesses demonstrating viability but lacking the capital and know-how to reach their potential. Additionally, he has pioneered novel forms of investing, including a focus on historic preservation through real estate investment. George is a thought leader and frequent speaker on leadership, entrepreneurship, and investing. His most recent media appearances include The Playbook with David Meltzer, the number one podcast on Entrepreneur.com; Read to Lead with Jeff Brown, which has featured Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and other business leaders; The Remarkable Leadership Podcast with Kevin Eikenberry; and Keep Leading! with Eddie Turner, a podcast that has appeared on the distinguished iTunes “New and Noteworthy” list. Additionally, George is a member of the Forbes Business Council. He is also the featured subject of an upcoming episode of Behind the Scenes with Laurence Fishburne, which will explore his commitment to historic preservation in New Orleans through commercial real estate investment and entrepreneurship. As a philanthropist, George established the Colonel Aaron C-Dot George Scholarship at Marshall University, an annual fund named after his brother who died as a fighter pilot in a training accident. He also serves on numerous civic, charitable, and educational boards, and contributes to many causes including the New York University Law School, the St. Martin’s Episcopal School George Cottage in New Orleans, and a school for orphans in Mombasa, Kenya.