You hear about the Steve Jobs, the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Justin Beibers.
You hear about the trader who made a killing in the bull market, the tech nerd who built an app that generated millions of dollars in a week, and the YouTube star who went viral and now has a deal with a big Hollywood studio.
We constantly hear of the overnight success stories…
Here is what you don’t hear.
You don’t hear about the countless hours of unforgivable work.
You don’t hear about the numerous setbacks or thousands of failures.
You don’t hear about the constant internal struggle that was tugging at their conscious, making them doubt that everything they worked towards would succeed.
But in the end it did.
Why? I’ll get to that. But first, let me explain my own story.
I’ve been in China for about three months now and reality is starting to set in. I’ve had the chance to have some fun and travel to some sweet places like Vietnam and the Philippines, but I’m beginning to look towards my future on a more long term scale and decide what I want to do.
And it’s not easy.
There are days where I am constantly questioning myself and my decisions.
“Did I fuck up? How am I going to make enough money? How will others see me if I fail?” These ideas claw at my brain like a dark cloud on the stormiest days.
On these darker days my thought process usually goes something like this:
In three months I haven’t done much to show for it. I’ve gotten set up in an apartment here and found some teaching gigs that provide me enough income to have a pretty good life, by Chinese standards, but I’m not here to be a teacher. I want to create something for myself on a larger scale and I haven’t seen much progress in that regard.
Am I bound to fail my entire life, one new job at a time?
When I was back in the states I had this idea that China would have all the answers. I believed that I would immediately meet other entrepreneurs and the pieces would magically fall into place. I hated my job and the office culture so much that I figured anything would be better.
Well, reality always hits harder.
First thing I realized is that I don’t want to get into the physical product business, at least not yet. This type of business requires extensive upfront investment and experience. Most guys who are involved in this have been in China for 3 to 5 years and it requires them to be here for most of the time (which I’m not trying to do. Sorry China…). This was an important realization for me because it was at this moment that I learned nothing is going to come quickly.
There is no such thing as overnight success.
Many people back home have been asking me what I have been doing and if I’ve made any serious money yet. And when I look back on what I’ve done I think, “Shit. Not really.”
But you see, this is the problem. This is the problem with our society and much of the youth—not only in America but in the entire world. We want to get rich quick, to have the best physique, and the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. We want the best tasting food and we want it healthy too! We want the newest iPhones and the flashiest cars.
We want instant gratification.
I know this sounds quite ridiculous coming from a 25 year old guy, but only now it’s really starting to hit me. There are going to be months, if not years of very slow progress before there is anything to show for it.
But that’s okay. When I actually take a step back and think of all of the successful people I know, many of them are in their 30s, 40s, or older. This has probably been the most valuable thing I’ve learned about myself over the last three months—that I have to be patient and work hard.
The next 5 to 10 years will be a marathon, not a sprint.
These are the formative years for the rest of your career. The focus should be on building up the skills that you need to be successful at whatever you plan on doing with your life.
An excellent book I read explained this well. The book is called “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” and it describes how most people who strive to get good at a specific skill usually become just “okay.” Oftentimes people will plateau when things get hard. They fail to push beyond the really difficult parts that make someone truly exceptional.
There is a point where work becomes a REAL challenge and deliberate practice and focus is required. The brain should be strained to continue to work.
It SHOULD be uncomfortable.
This is the level of work that needs to be put into something if you really want to see results and be the best, or “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”
So, to the naysayers and my personal doubts I say, “f*ck off!”
Maybe I haven’t started my own business or made thousands of dollars since I’ve come over here, BUT it’s only been 3 months!
I have in no way been wasting my time. I’m learning everyday, reading as many books as I can get my hands on, and FINALLY landing clients online.
I’m learning that everyday is going to be a grind.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
Everyday I’m going to have to put my head down and work on myself and building up my skills.
I know that in time, maybe several months or even a year, that this hard work will pay off — the pieces WILL fall into place.
Success is not created overnight.
New success stories come out everyday and they can be incredibly inspiring and motivating. But, what they fail to do is show the countless hours, days, months, and years where the individual slaved away and made huge sacrifices to get better—to create their dream and to live a life on their own terms.
Are you willing to do the same?