You have ultimate control over your own success or failure. The locus of control is squarely within your domain. It’s important that you understand that. This isn’t to say everything you attempt will be successful no matter how badly you want it — certainly it will not. But there are things you can control for to determine your ultimate success. Here are three factors that contribute to your success.
You have no control over whether you have talent in a particular area. Or even the amount of talent you do or do not have. Talent is a genetic gift bestowed on each of us in different ways, giving us the capacity to do certain things better than others. But since you can’t control it, forget about it.
Steph Curry wasn’t born as one of the greatest shooters of his or any other generation. He’s undersized and has bad ankles. He didn’t attend one of the basketball blueblood schools. Even in his first couple years in the NBA, Curry was solid but did not evidence an ability to rise to one of the best couple of players in the NBA. He lacked the natural talent that oozes out of guys like Lebron James. But Curry didn’t resolve himself to being a good player. He sought out greatness. He worked tirelessly, daily, year after year. He honed his craft until his greatness was apparent to everyone.
If you want to achieve a skill or master a craft, do it regardless of talent. The guy with more talent than you may start with a leg up, but he doesn’t monopolize whatever space you want to occupy.
I am not the most gifted litigator. Plenty of people are inherently better orators than me. There are any number of better writers than me. But that knowledge does not give me permission to resolve myself to being a second-rate lawyer. It arms me with resolution to work harder and to become better.
If you want to achieve greatness, do it regardless of talent. Make talent inconsequential by being willing to put in the work.
You know what else is beyond your control? Luck. Whether good luck or bad. You can’t count on it, and you shouldn’t despair over it.
Sometimes you are going to have bad luck. You might be like me and buy your first house in 2007 at peak market prices right before the biggest economic decline since the Great Depression. Then you’re stuck with it for years before eventually taking a huge loss on it. That’s just bad luck. And sometimes there’s just not really anything to learn from those situations.
Or you might be like author Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s written seven books. One of them was a worldwide bestseller for more than two years – Eat, Pray, Love. None of her other books have seen the same economic success. Was that one book so much better than her others? Probably not. It was the right book at the right time, and it struck a chord with millions of readers. That is luck.
You can’t count on luck. But you can and must pursue your work so that when luck turns its eye your way, you are in a position to take advantage of it. Coleman Cox is attributed with writing, “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more it I seem to have.” Discount luck. Just do your work.
3. Work Ethic
You see where this is going. You may not be as gifted as someone else, or be handed the same opportunities. But you can let your drive and ambition guide you to outwork others. I’m not necessarily advocating that you work 60 hours a week, but that might be necessary. I’m certainly not suggesting you sacrifice time with your family or forego your health.
What I’m telling you is you need to work more efficiently and effectively than others in your space. But really, don’t pay them any mind. Put your head down and your blinders on. Do the work you need to do. Have goals so you know where you’re headed. Then do your work. Give no thought to talent or luck or any number of other things that you cannot control. Concern yourself only with what is at your fingertips. Be diligent and tenacious in achieving.
Now close your browser and get to work.
Photo by olivierbxl.