How To Be Successful

How To Be Successful

In order to be successful, I try to convince myself that working harder than everyone else is much more important than being born talented and smart.

Will Smith believes that he isn’t particularly talented and that his successes are achieved through his “ridiculous [and] sickening work ethic”. Even though “greatness exists in all of us”, not everyone achieves greatness because the “separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts”. He explains that everyone can be skilled, and a skill “is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on [the] craft” - Malcolm Gladwell anyone? For Will Smith, when others are sleeping, he’s working. When others are eating, he’s working. He “dedicates [himself] to being better every single day”. Arnold Schwarzenegger also maintains the similar belief that hard work is important to success. He says that “when you’re out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard, someone is getting smarter and someone is winning”.

Moreover, the path to success is taken one step at a time. Will Smith argues that the first goal isn’t to “build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that has ever been built”. Instead, you must first lay a brick, and lay it “as perfectly as a brick can be laid”, and you lay that perfect brick every single day until you have a wall. The underlying advice here is to not set your goals so lofty that it seems daunting and impossible, and that you should not try to take shortcuts. However, each step on the path to success must be taken with hard work and complete dedication - there is no shortcut to working hard.

What does hard work consist of? For Elon Musk, it means “work[ing] like hell” and putting in 80 to 100 hours a week. He has done it for years and it certainly “improves the odds of success”. Working at 80 hours a week, you will be able to complete twice as much as the average person and get to your goal twice as fast.

Of course if a person is ambitious enough, by all means, aim for the top, but be wary of the effort that is required. The challenge here, according to Elon Musk, is to identify “the difference between really believing in your ideals and sticking to them as opposed to pursuing some unrealistic dream that doesn’t actually have merit”. Thus, it’s important to be “very rigorous in your self analysis”.

Ultimately, you must also be passionate and really enjoy what you do, no matter the field. If you like what you’re doing, you will “think about it even when you’re not working”, your mind will be drawn to it. If the goal doesn’t hold much meaning, then it’s unlikely you can make it work.

John Hering, Kevin Mahaffey, and James Burgess, the founders of Lookout, founded Lookout partly because they are passionate about security. I believe a main reason for Lookout’s success is because they want to solve hard problems and are not afraid to tackle them. I was told that to build a successful business, you cannot be afraid of trying to solve difficult problems. It is unlikely for someone to build the next Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds with minimal innovations and rake in millions of dollars. King, the company that built Candy Crush Saga, published numerous games before they hit the jackpot. There are no shortcuts.

In conclusion, achieving success involves working hard on something that you are passionate about, dedicating your mind to that goal, and to not be scared away by difficult problems that arise.

I feel that most importantly, I have to be passionate about what I am building and what I want to achieve. Having passion is a great motivator for putting in 80 hours a week into a task. Having passion means that you will want to solve the tough problems that come up, because solving them gets you one step closer to the end result.

The caveat of taking advice from these immensely successful individuals is that in addition to their amazing work ethic, all of them are undoubtedly smart and talented. Will Smith was admitted to a pre-engineering program at MIT and his ability to act can be seen throughout all his shows and movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a successful business man, bodybuilder, actor, and was also the governor of California. Elon Musk builds electric cars and is going to send mankind to Mars. You have to wonder how much of their successes is due to their talent and innate ability to pursue greatness.

Regardless, I believe and I hope that anyone can achieve greatness by emulating these great men.

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