Success Part 3: The Secret Formula

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Author, Author Advice, Publishing, Writing | 3 comments

Okay, so it’s not really a secret, but you’d be surprised how many people want an easy answer. To make a quick buck is great, to earn a buck feels better. The answer to success can be formulated very simply by answering one question: “How Bad Do You Want It.” I linked to Author Tonya Kappes blog last week to share a video with you. It’s an amazing video and just one of many out there, freely available. It shows you how hard some people work to get what they want. In order to know if you truly want success, and whether or not you’re prepared to work for it, you have to be able to answer that question. Here’s what you need:

 
Hard Work. Success is impossible without it. Sure, you could win fifty million dollars in the lottery and all you had to do was walk to the store and buy a ticket, but that doesn’t make you successful, that makes you rich. Success is completely different.
 
Attitude. The right attitude goes a long way. What’s the right attitude? It’s the “never say die, fight for every inch, don’t let anyone tell you can’t, but still be sensible enough to take criticism, listen to the right advice to advance your product, and be able to rework things to produce better quality” attitude. That sounds like a lot and it sounds contradictory, and it is. You need to be able to pick your battles, believe in yourself, and be willing to change. The word can’t does not exist in your vocabulary; saying it is the only way you can fail.
 
Create A Map. Don’t use someone else’s map, make your own. You can buy all the “How To *Insert your chosen product here* books you want. You can be mentored by the person who has already reached success (at least in your opinion), and/or you can take classes, follow trends, and walk behind the new leaders of your chosen career path, but their map has already been drawn. It can’t actually take YOU, the future prodigy, to success. You can’t find a future by following the past. Plain and simple.
 
I’ve talked about this before and to make it clear, I’m saying it again. Following someone else’s path is fine for learning. You should research, absorb everything you can about your industry, know what worked for other people, and learn from it. The problem is the path they took had a pot of gold on it and now that pot is gone. They scooped it up when they hacked their way through negativity, disbelief, road blocks, victories, rainstorms and self-doubt. At the end of their road was the success they earned and as such, it’s theirs. You can take their path, but it will only lead you to an empty pot. If you want to find your pot of gold, you need to cut out a new path. In other words, make your own map.
 
Never Forget Where You Started. The end means nothing if not for the beginning. The victory of our protagonist isn’t sweet without the venomous road they traveled. If you forget where you came from, how can you remember where you are going?
 
Realize You’re Not Alone. Nobody wins on their own. I don’t care what you’re doing, what you’re passionate about, or how solitary your craft is. Nobody succeeds alone. They have a cheerleader, a promoter, a friend, a sounding board, fans, haters, disbelievers, never giver uppers, and constant drag you downers. You might sell your product to one or two people, maybe a thousand, but you don’t sell it to millions. People do. People you don’t even pay. Whether they love your product or they have a passionate hate for it, people sell your product. All that hard work you did, once released for public consumption, is no longer yours. You can own the rights, the paycheck might be yours, and it may be your name on the line, but the people decide what happens with it. You can put your product in the right “peoples” hands, and those hands might be the ones that get you the attention you need to get closer to success, but at the end of the day, it’s people. Ten people sharing your product with two, those two sharing it with eight, those eight sharing it with three, and the randomness continues. A person doesn’t make things happen, people do.
 
Persistence. Of all the steps you can follow, this and hard work are the most important. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” You can follow any guideline, book, format, or map, but when push comes to shove, it might not be your time. On a long enough timeline however, hard work and persistence will get you there. When it happens, you can call it luck if you want. In fact, a lot of people do, but I tend to agree with Roman philosopher, Seneca, who said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”


So now we know what were in for. We know it can take months, years, maybe longer to get where we want to be. It will take long nights and early mornings, more work than we can imagine, suffering through disappoint, spending weekends striving for greatness, making sacrifices we don’t want to make, questioning everything, doubting nothing, making mistakes, celebrating victories, surpassing pain, and following our instincts to cut our own path through the world. All that and more, but eventually, if we work hard enough, we’ll get there. Now that we know what we’re in for, it’s time to answer the question. 

How bad do you want it?

    3 Comments

  1. Great post! Love the pace and the simplicity of what you laid out there. The best part, it's so true!

  2. Great post Matt. The best part is that it doesn't just apply to authors. My biggest problem is that I don't have the self confidence to promote myself – even though people keep telling me to. I always look at my work and compare it to the really great people in my field that I can't compare myself to. Stupid, huh? Putting yourself out there is tough, especially when it's something that you're passionate about. Thanks for the pep talk… now it's time to put it into action 😉

  3. Awesome pep talk Matt, thanks! I LOVE that line about how “you don't sell your books, people do.” LOVE IT. Might even hang it on my wall. The post makes me all warm and fuzzy and “I believe in me” inside. I'm bookmarking it for the low days – the days I'll need to see it again in print. =)

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