Luck is overrated. So is talent. And giftedness.
You can have all of those and still flub your life. What makes you a success, sometimes even a legend, is your work ethic.
It is escapee mentality to look at successful people and pass it off as luck or talent or some other unfair advantage. It absolves you of having to take responsibility.
But when you get brutally honest with yourself, you know the buck stops with you.
You don’t need to be a U.S. President like Harry Truman to apply this to your life, either.
Take it seriously, and your life will be amazing. Not some random event(s) beyond your control.
Here are some “greats” to draw inspiration from… with some of the things they famously did to drive their success.
What distinguishes merely talented people from truly great successes is their drive – their willingness to start earlier, stay later, and do more than anyone else.
The very people you may admire most do exactly that. Here are some noteworthy examples:
1. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner
His success may look like luck, because he sold his first company at top dollar and got into tech stocks with perfect timing. But Cuban talks about the incredible amount of work it took to get his “stroke of luck.” Like staying up till 2 in the morning studying new software and going 7 years without a vacation.
2. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO
He definitely “shows up.” Apparently when he announced to his high school classmates that he was going to be their valedictorian, everyone else instantly knew they were competing for second place.
In his early days at Amazon, he worked 12-hour days 7 days a week, and stayed up till 2 or 3 in the morning to get books shipped. He hasn’t exactly let up. He still personally emails his customer service teams, and they report directly to him about how they’ll resolve customer service problems.
3. Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Cook has always been a workaholic. Fortune reports that he begins sending business emails at 4:30 a.m. He’s the first to the office and the last to leave. Reportedly, he holds meetings Sunday night to get ready for Monday.
4. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault
He runs two large automakers, which is a clue in and of itself. A Forbes profile shows he works more than 65 hours a week and flies more than 150,000 miles a year. He also rescued Nissan, which many predicted was impossible.
5. Michael Jordan – no need to say who he is, right?
Despite his extraordinary physical talents, it was his work ethic that made him a legend. Just ask his long time coach Phil Jackson. Jordan spent his off-season practicing hundreds of jump shots per day till he had perfected them. Jackson says Jordan’s defining characteristic wasn’t his talent, but having the humility to know he had to work harder than anyone else to be the best.
6. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
She balances one of the most diverse and demanding lives of anyone in business. Although famous for leaving work to have dinner with her family at 5:30, she’s frequently at work by 7 a.m., and once her children are in bed, she’s often found working till late at night.
Despite all these great examples, there’s a ‘catch’ – or two.
Can we say balance?
I’m as much a workaholic at heart as these exemplary people. But there are two things I refuse to renege on for the sake of career.
1. Valuable relationships (especially family).
After all, who wants to be on his or her deathbed surrounded by… nobody?
Relationships are part and parcel of life. They make life worth living.
They’re also built over time. You must invest into them or they won’t occur. Besides, people who have relationships outside of work bring fresh perspective and a deeper level of satisfaction to their work.
Relationships help form the rich tapestry of life. So maybe there’s a reason for the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” after all.
Ironically enough, many people work so hard they sacrifice their health. Then they must sacrifice their work to save their health.
There’s simply too much evidence that an overbalance on the work side can lead to stress, sloppy eating, and left-behind exercise. I seriously doubt those things can co-exist with awesome health enjoyed over a whole lifetime.
As a successful copywriter and consultant with major clients in the health industry, I realize that those who keep awesome health for a lifetime almost always do it very intentionally.
They focus on specific stress reduction techniques (such as prayer and meditation), healthy eating habits, and keeping their bodies moving.
So kudos to having a strong work ethic! It’ll help you reap great success.
But please balance it with meaningful relationships and your health… both of which yield other rich rewards and make your career and financial success all the more enjoyable.
To your unlimited business growth,