How to Be Successful
The real path is not the easy one
"There is no sure-fire way to get rich quickly. In fact, the pursuit of that usually leads to ruin."
— Whitney Tilson
I seem to be easily triggered by lists such as:
‘Here’s what EVERY successful entrepreneur does in the morning.’
‘Ten common traits ALL millionaires share.’
‘Six things you NEED to know before the market opens.’
These lists MUST be popular, or the clickbait farms wouldn't publish them.
Why do they get me so riled up?
They lull honest, hopeful people who want to better themselves into a thought process that believes that “if I just do those things that successful entrepreneurs do, or develop those traits that ALL millionaires share, I'll make it. I'll be successful just like them.”
Bad news: NO, you won't.
That's because successful entrepreneurs all tend to do DIFFERENT things in the morning.
Millionaires who self-select themselves to answer *pages and pages* of questions might share traits, but they are a TINY fraction of all millionaires. Most of those ‘self-selected’ millionaires might have LESS in common with the entire universe of millionaires than you do.
Anyone who follows me or listens to the podcast knows that there are never 6, 10 or 20 things you NEED to know before the market opens, unless one of those things is the sun exploding; aliens landing or a civil war starting overnight. Honestly, with the exception of the sun exploding, my guess is most gurus and forecasters would even be WRONG about the ramifications of the other two.
The honest-to-god, no BS answer is that there is NO secret to almost anything.
People so want there to be a secret, an easy path that leads to guaranteed success. That path does not exist.
If you think about it for just a second, you can see how obvious that is. If such a path DID exist, you couldn't get on it because every other human on the planet would already be on it.
“New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
Here’s the rub. There may not be a secret, easy path to success.
But there is still a path.
The REAL path is one most people don't want to take (why do you think so many people play the lottery?)
The real path is emotionally hard. The real path requires you to often hold uncomfortable opinions and challenge conventional thought. The real path requires you to learn, learn and then learn some more, without an end date. It requires you to seek out wisdom and the latest thinking continually in a never-ending commitment to gaining knowledge.
Note I say knowledge, not information. That's another part of the real path--after all that reading, listening and watching, you have to critically separate the wheat from the chaff. And given the information tsunami we have today, that's a task that gets harder and harder.
The real path requires you to have a burning desire to not only *know* but to then also *act* on that knowledge.
The real path is filled with people who will tell you you can't or shouldn't be doing whatever "crazy" thing you're doing. It's filled with negative, bitter people who will--knowingly or unknowingly--hope that you fail because they themselves either have or never tried. It's filled with genuinely good people begging you to be "more practical" and urging you to get a stable job that is a "good fit" for your talents. It's filled with people who really and truly love you and whom you love being filled with palpable worry for you and what you're doing.
And that's just the start. There are so many other land mines on the real path that you couldn't fit them all on the longest available Substack post.
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
— Babe Ruth
So, am I telling you to give up? To not have that burning ambition to succeed at whatever you love?
I'm telling you the truth so that you stop reading those easy lists, so you stop just dreaming and start doing.
I believe that all types of people can become great successes in their chosen field. But it requires the willingness to read more than almost everyone else; to sort out the gems of knowledge you find in the thicket of information, and then to try things.
Often, the things you try won't work--good, you just learned another way not to do something and succeed. The real path requires you to persist. Even after you're knocked down ten times, you've got to get up eleven. Keep your mental models sharp, learn from mistakes, and then keep on going.
And, almost most importantly, you've got to really and truly believe that you CAN do it. I've met so many incredibly smart and talented people who have been done in by their beliefs. Sometimes, we're not even aware of limiting beliefs that may lurk in our minds. I had several that I had to delete once I became aware of them.
So, no lists, but some simple advice: Read, synthesize ideas, try them, abandon those that aren't working, try new ones, read some more. Tell people about your hopes and goals. Listen for good advice; it does exist. But ruthlessly remove the bad advice, the naysayers, the permanent pessimists. Keep your mind wide open to ideas; indeed, read and understand those you might have an aversion to so that you improve your understanding and knowledge.
It sounds daunting, but done the right way, it is such an exhilarating feeling that you'll want to keep doing it even if you're not yet getting paid to do so.
Be open; be kind; treat people well, and karma will get your back.
Oh, and one more thing. For the love of god, DON'T read those lists!