Rethinking Success

We liken success to sports, exams or battles that have winners and losers, and that have an end. However, success means having the stamina to keep going.

There might be many people who are more talented than you are. What will make you successful in starting a business, building a popular blog or writing a book is how long you can keep on trying.

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Self Improvement

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The kind of patience that leads to success is not the same as waiting. Waiting has no benefits. Investing time doesn't do anything on its own.

The kind of patience needed for success is an active, self-doubting kind of patience. It's putting in enormous amounts of work, reviewing the work, questioning if it was the right work, then making adjustments and trying again.

Success tends to accrue in two different modes:

  • Build up: It is the steady accumulation of improvements that you can see month after month, that will eventually help you reach your destination.
  • Breakthroughs: It requires a lot of effort with no visible benefits, but every once in a while, there's an insight that unlocks your potential.

Stamina may increase the odds of success. However, life rarely involves a single pursuit. We are continually trading one activity against another. Those with greater endurance in one pursuit may miss a different one where success comes easier.

While there are many dead-ends and pitfalls, it is also clear that success requires stamina. One has to work on faith that everything will eventually pay off.

The key to long-distance running is pacing. If you're running faster than what your body can effectively sustain, you'll burn out. If you pick a speed just below that critical threshold, you can run for hours with the right mindset.

Set yourself up in a way so that sustaining effort for years is a viable option. It should include mental stamina. 

Dead-ends are everywhere, and many efforts go nowhere.

  • Periodically ask yourself whether you genuinely have better opportunities than the one in front of you. Avoid the thinking that leads you to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side.
  • Focus on the process of the pursuit itself, rather than the goal. The process should be tolerable, even exciting.

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RELATED IDEAS

Thinking up a new life is not enough unless you also pair it with action. It is important then to realize that most of our actions happen without thinking. We do the same pattern endlessly, and those actions create our lives.

Real change seldom comes from a single exertion. It comes from committing yourself to specific daily habits until the habit feels comfortable.

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IDEAS

There are 4 categories here:

  • Satisfying work: clearly defined challenging activities, that provide clear feedback.
  • The experience or promise of success: we want to feel we are getting better over time.
  • Meaningfulness: being a part of something bigger.
  • Social connection: sharing experiences with others, while working towards a common goal.

When pursuing a dream you have the underlying assumption that when you reach it you will be happy. That is false. 

Achieving goals doesn’t make you happy because achievements on their own hold no lasting emotional value. Only growth, fulfilment and passion has value.

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