People overestimate the role circumstance plays in success. Successful people don’t wait for the perfect moment to do what they want to do. They enable themselves and make it happen – dealing with the daily grind like everybody else.
I was out for coffee the other day and one of my friends was talking about the last book she read. I don’t remember the details, but apparently it was great. Really great.
My friend was gushing into her latte about how this guy was such a great writer with so many incredible ideas, such a flair for language….
But then our other friend chimes in,
“Oh, yes. It must be nice. Just to sit around all day and think up nice things to write. I could probably write a best-seller if I didn’t have to work all day, put food on the table, chase after the kids – “
“Sit in cafes with your friends.” I said with a wink.
It reminds me of my friend who said the same thing about the Dalai Lama – how it’s easy for him to be so happy because all he has to do all day is sit around and meditate. He doesn’t have to hold down a day job.
(Never mind that a million people are looking to him for spiritual leadership!)
I think it’s common trap. People tend to downplay their own agency in life. People over-estimate the role circumstance played in great people’s lives and under-estimate the personal effort that it required.
Achieving anything is difficult. Good or bad. Like writing a book. There are huge obstacles that every writer has to overcome. There’s the discipline involved in putting pen to paper day after day. The challenge of making time in your busy life to actually get some writing done. The constant doubt and fear of failure. The endless knock-backs from publishers and pressure from your family to do something productive with your time…
That anyone can manage to get a book finished at all is a real feat. Whether it’s actually any good or not – that’s a whole other question. I think it’s why great books are so rare. If it was easy, everyone’d be doing it.
And it’s the same with achieving anything – learning a new skill, making music, building real wealth and financial freedom…
These things don’t happen because the stars align to make them easy. They happen in-spite of the challenges of life. Richard Branson isn’t who he is because he had an easy run of things. He had to find his way in life like everybody else – through the tedium of putting food on the table, managing his relationships, learning skills and picking failed business ideas up off the floor.
Everything you’re wrestling with now, he had to get through at some point.
It’s never the perfect time. And if we’re waiting for the perfect time it’s easy to find excuses. I’m not going to get on top of my finances this year, because it’s a busy year at work, the kids are starting high-school, the missus hasn’t been feeling well…
Life never stops.
Successful people enable themselves. They know they need to take responsibility for the shape of their own lives – regardless of what the winds of fate have brought them. The know that great stretches of the road to success are as boring as bat-poo.
But they embrace the banal struggles of the daily grind as just par for the course.
The way of the tea-cup warrior.
Look at it another way. Another friend of mine has a bit of a reputation for being a grizzly-guts, but in her defence she says, “I’m friendly to people if they’re friendly to me.”
Exactly. She’s waiting for other people to open up a friendly relationship, and then she’ll be friendly in response. She’s waiting for others to enable her friendliness.
But what if you meet someone who’s got the same attitude as you? You’re stuck in a Mexican stand-off – neither one willing to be the first mover towards friendly relations.
An empowered person on the other hand says, “I like it when things are friendly, so I’m just going to lead into that and see what happens.” Their opening move is warm and friendly – big smiles and firm handshakes. They’re taking charge of the situation for themselves.
There’s a relationship truth here too. You often hear people complaining about their partners – how their not romantic enough, how they don’t talk about their feelings, how they’re not passionate enough.
But sometimes this is just buck-passing. You want to live passionately, romantically, with a life full of rich emotions. What are you waiting for? Just do it. You don’t need anyone to give you the experiences you want. Don’t give away your power.
Step into the life you want for yourself, and then invite others into that. Don’t wait for others to enable the life you hunger for.
You can create the life you want. And, in fact, that’s the only way it’s going to happen – if you create it for yourself. Nobody owes you anything. The world doesn’t care if you sink or swim.
If you want to achieve something, do it. Accept that you’ll have your share of challenges – many unglamorous hours making tea and doing your taxes, just like everybody else… and then just get on with it.
Enable and empower yourself.