Ever wonder why someone in your industry is incredibly successful and it feels like you’re practically standing still? It’s an awful feeling – a mix of jealousy, powerlessness, futility (I’m sure you could add a few more to the list). They have what you want and you’re spinning your wheels trying to get it. Looking at those people in front of you, it’s natural to question what it really takes to succeed.
You look at them and think, “I can do that. In fact, I do that!”
You wonder, “What makes them so special?”
You ask all your friends, “Am I missing something here?”
I’ll tell you what you’re missing… drum roll… patience (and maybe a little creativity). For many of you reading this, it’s not skill, knowledge or lack of value. Oftentimes the truth is that someone else got there first. Simple as that.
Yeah, yeah. Clearly hustle, vision, persistence etc. are crazy important when it comes to creating success. I’m not denying that and have written about it many times on this blog. However, we live in an age of instant gratification. Send a tweet, get RTs. Post on FB, get likes. Nobody likes to wait but there is no shortcut to success, it takes time.
I know the feeling of wanting to be at the top and having tons to contribute now. Unfortunately, despite the big seemingly overnight success stories we all know oh-so-well (Hello there, Facebook) most people don’t make it to the front of their industry before they’re 25 and for some, even decades later.
Jealousy shows up everywhere you go when you carry the “When it is my turn?” mindset. It’s not helping you.
On Social Media: Why do they have a trillion followers on Twitter and I have a lousy 683? They’re saying what I’m saying but nobody hears me.
At the Office: How did Joe Schmo get promoted to SVP? I’m doing a ton of the work behind the scenes. I want to be promoted too, ya know.
In Your Home: The kids are always asking why you get to stay up late and they have to go to bed. Annoying. You tell them because you’re 30 years older, but they don’t care.
I know people who are working their asses off to create a successful business, get noticed at work and make a difference in the world. It’s easy to want to pull your hair out when success is not happening fast enough or aggressively enough.
What it Really Takes to Succeed…
At first blush, waiting in line to pick your child up at school has very little in common with achieving success. However, as I sat in yesterday’s pickup line, I also had a lightbulb go off over my head. Luckily, I also had my laptop in tow.
A few weeks ago my child started middle school. Unlike in primary school where I walked to her classroom to pick her up, I now get in line in my car and wait for her to walk out of the building. There are four spots at the front of the line where kids can get into cars.
I should mention that there are over 700 students that attend her school. Yes, some of the kids drive themselves home or walk or bike or take the bus but a heck of a lot are picked up by a parent.
The first few days I showed up 10 minutes early and was significantly farther than 10 spots from one of the four magic spaces. I moved it up to 15 minutes early and was still at least six spots behind the front four.
Moving up my arrival time wouldn’t actually make it go any faster. I could wait for 25 minutes in one of the four magic spaces or wait for 25 minutes for the front runners to leave and make room for the next group of line leaders. Essentially, that left me with one choice – waiting.
Even when there are 30 cars in line, not one car can move up until the first four spaces are vacated.
A few parents were unwilling to wait in line and created their own pick up process. They parked down the street and told their kids to meet them there. Others pulled up on the grass nearby and got out of the car while wildly waving their hands until their child saw them.
I don’t want an alternative, I want to get to the front, so I wait. Losing 25 minutes a day also isn’t of interest so I’ve learned to bring my planner, laptop, and a book to ensure I can use the time I have available.
Let’s break this down:
We all strive to get there early.
Four parents get there first.
The rest of us wait.
It feels like a standstill.
We’re actually not stopped, we are idling. Ready to get into motion.
The line ultimately moves, bit by bit, one car at a time.
We all eventually make it to the front of the line and pick up our child.
Getting to the top or your industry or finally getting a promotion or getting some real traction for your small business is not as simple as picking up a kid at school, I get it. Still…
What it Really takes to Succeed is Not a Mystery
You show up every day. (persistence)
You make the most of your time. (productivity)
You find a new line that isn’t as long. (innovation)
You transform waiting into creating. (hustle)
You hang in there and be ready – your time will come. (patience)
You WILL get there.
Break the Frame Action:
Here are three things you can do to dial down your jealousy and frustration and transform your wait into your secret to success.
1) You can always accelerate your success even if it still takes time. Here are 50 ideas to get you started.
2) Read Blue Ocean Strategy by Mauborgne and Kim. It’s over ten years old now but it may give you the inspiration, insight, and know-how to bypass the competition.
3) Keep showing up even when you don’t want to (or would rather take a nap).
Eventually, the line leaders move on and there’s space for new people. Will you give up before you get to where you want to be?