Did you ever see someone posting a picture on Instagram sharing how awful their day was?
And did you ever see a perfect picture showing how wonderful someone’s life is?
The ideal brunch, a perfect marriage proposal, a trip to Paris, or a beautiful gender announcement during pregnancy?
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There is no definition of successes that we all would agree on.
Yet, we keep comparing ourselves to others.
And most importantly, we compare our second or fifth day to others’ 800th or even 1500th day.
We give up because we don’t succeed quickly.
Get rich schemes are more prominent than ever before, and sadly, more people than ever before are paying crazy sums for these secret success-promising formulas.
The definition of success, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, is:
“The fact that you have achieved something that you want and have been trying to do or get; the fact of becoming rich or famous or of getting a high social position”
Let’s ignore the second part for now.
We could never agree on what rich or famous means.
The first part, however, is what matters:
The fact that you have achieved something that you want and have been trying to do or get.
Success means reaching goals you’ve been working on for some while.
And even if your desired results might be similar to someone who already achieved them, your path will look differently.
Having idols is excellent. Having role models is great. Having mentors is fabulous.
But too often we miss out on a critical part when looking up to all the people we admire:
They all started from zero.
When we look at today’s bestselling authors, most successful sportspeople, or most wealthy entrepreneurs, it all seems so effortless.
It seems as if they were made for success, right.
You only see the tip of the iceberg. Always.
Whenever you compare yourself to someone who is already living the life you dream of or who achieved some success, you’re desiring, you’ll be disappointed.
Because you’ll be comparing your beginning to their mastery.
We always see people’s successes.
Nobody likes to talk about failure.
Even the most successful people (whatever that might mean) hardly share their stories of failure.
And when they do, we feel as if their failures are okay while ours are miserable.
Did you ever wonder about the first video of Gary Vee?
You probably didn’t.
Even if you admire him for years, you always thought of him as an expert, as someone who made it, right?
But guess what?
He started at the fucking bottom.
He uploaded his first YouTube video talking about wine in 2006.
2006…I don’t know about you, but I probably didn’t even know YouTube existed in 2006.
And what about Oprah?
Do you think she was as confident back in 1986, right before her first national show as she is now?
Did you ever think of Oprah being insecure? Or struggling in life?
You probably didn’t.
Because she’s the queen.
Because she worked so damn hard for decades.
We all don’t think about today’s most successful people as being beginners at some point.
Instead, we look at the tip of the iceberg.
Precisely, at the tip of their iceberg.
Focus on your foundation
Looking up to successful people is great.
I also do it all the time.
I read books of experts, I join courses of coaches who are great at what they do, and I get mentored by people whom I deeply admire.
In fact, I love being surrounded by people who are way ahead of me.
I don’t like conversations with small-minded people.
Instead of being the smartest person in a room, I’d instead fake it and step into a room with people way ahead of my game.
Yet, I always keep reminding myself of one critical rule:
I’m on the journey.
We all are.
And those who started 10, 20, or 30 years ahead of you, are, of course, ahead of you.
Even someone who started a day before you will be ahead of you if you do the same work.
Everything else would be pretty unfair, right?
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”
— Jim Rohn
You can read hundreds of books of the most successful people of our time, and you’ll always find one similarity:
They all struggled, and they all kept going for a long time despite the difficulties.
Rory Vaden once said the following:
“Success is never owned, it is rented and the rent is due every day.”
Well, guess what: Your rent is different from someone who is in the game for a long time.
Let’s think of content creators of any form:
An Instagram influencer who has an audience of a million followers has a different rent to pay compared to you if you are just starting.
And obviously, they will get different results because they’ve been paying the rent for a much longer time.
It’s the same with writers:
Even if you have a good base of readers, you’ll need to keep going and writing good shit.
At least, if you want your audience to grow and your earnings to be stable.
However, it’s obvious a writer who started ten years, or even ten months ahead of you will achieve better results than you if you are just beginning.
As a beginner, these rules might seem unfair because you work your ass off without getting the appreciation you desire, yet, at many points, life is fair.
Those who persevere, who build their iceberg step by step over the years, eventually make it.
You can google anyone who you desire, anyone who is famous, and you’ll find out how much they’ve been investing in their success.
Thousands of blog posts, years of training, tens of failed companies.
It’s no abnormality.
And yet, we only see the success, the top.
But guess what?
Nobody makes it to the top of the iceberg without building a solid foundation.
Nobody gets to the level of mastery without covering the basics.
No matter if it’s in business, writing, sports, or music.
Newt Gingrich once defined perseverance as the following:
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”
Everybody wants to be successful and reach their goals.
And even though everybody could do so, only very few people really do.
Most people want results, and they want them now.
Well, here’s the bad news: There’s no elevator to success.
And even if there would be one, it would be a shaky elevator, it would probably break down amid the journey.
Taking the stairs is not easy.
But it’s the only way to make it to the tip of those icebergs we so much admire in other people’s lives.
Step after step, failure after failure, you need to build your foundation, sharpen your skills, and keep your perseverance strong.
Because…at the end, you’ll need to do the hard work after doing the hard work.
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