It’s Not Always About Trying Harder
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
As an amateur bodybuilder, it has taken me almost 20 years to learn first-hand that success is not always about trying harder. This statement seems a bit contradictory to the principles of muscle development since when it comes to building muscle, maximum results are produced with maximum effort. However, I have learned the hard way that trying harder at doing the wrong exercises, using poor form, and working the same muscle group too often, will not bring me closer to success. In fact, due to injury, doing the wrong things has pushed me further from my goals. In addition, genetically speaking, I can never look like a Schwarzenegger no matter how hard I try. Understanding that success is not about trying harder has helped me to do MY best, and has kept me from getting discouraged when my efforts do not pay off.
According to a study done by M. Scherneck for his Ph. D. dissertation in 1998, wasted effort is actually the leading cause of discouragement. The majority of people studied rank effort as the leading predictor of success, when in fact it is just a small part of success. People try and try, see little results, get discouraged, consider themselves a failure and give up. It is the classic case of confusing activity with accomplishment. Do you think Michael Jordan tries 1000 times harder than the average pro basketball player? Do you think Bill Gates tries 100,000,000 times harder than the average business person? If success were really about trying harder, based on their success (wealth, fame, influence) in their respective fields, this would have to be true. Common sense, however, tells us that it cannot be true.
Why is success not always about trying harder? I believe there are three main reasons why effort alone does not guarantee one success. To illustrate these reasons, we will follow Ken in his pursuit of success.
Aptitude. Ken dreamed of being a pro basketball player since he was a small boy. He would devote much of his childhood to playing basketball and practicing every chance he got. Always being small for his age, and fairly big boned, he never did too well at the sport and spent most of his time on the bench when he did actually make the team. Ken realized that despite his efforts, he did not have the aptitude to become a professional basketball player. He did not fit the physical profile, and perhaps he was a little less coordinated than the other players. After taking one of the many available aptitude tests in high school, Ken discovered that he had a knack for business.
Doing the wrong things. Years passed, and Ken entered the business world as an entrepreneur with a start-up company. Ken worked 18 hour days in an attempt to get his business off the ground, mostly at perfecting his website. He would add content, make changes daily, check every word and sentence for proper spelling and grammar, and spend thousands on eye-catching animations and graphics. After about a year of this, Ken finally realized the error of his ways. The problem was never with his website’s content; it was the fact that very few people knew it even existed! All this time, Ken was, as they say, “spinning his wheels.”
Point of diminishing returns. Ken finally knew what he needed to do. He needed to attract people to his website. To do this, Ken ran an ad in his local newspaper. This worked great for Ken. He immediately saw return on his investment, and the traffic started coming in. He ran the ad again, then again. However, the results the second and third times were not so great. Ken expanded his advertising to all the local papers, magazines, websites, TV and radio stations. As with his first ad, these ads did well for a while, and then started to produce diminishing returns. Ken was now spending thousands of dollars and working 18 hour days once again, “trying his best” to get the business off the ground.
Since this is a hypothetical illustration, we might as well give it a happy ending while plugging Year To Success. Fortunately for Ken, he discovered that success is not always about trying harder. Success is the culmination of hundreds of principles, concepts and ideas. Ken read Year To Success and started applying the principles to his business. He is now one of the most successful business people in his community, and he works no harder and no longer than the average business person.
Take Your Year To Success To the Next Level
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- Buy the Book. Year To Success - Available in hardcover, signed by the author. Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio from Amazon.com.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)