Two 4-Letter Words that Make or Break Your Success
I was going down a YouTube rabbit hole the other day, and I came across this freestyle rapper named Harry Mack. And I gotta tell you...he is UNBELIEVABLY good. Most of his videos are him meeting random people and having them give him a few words, and then he just rolls. He’s RIDICULOUSLY good. So I wanted to know how he got there.
When I was a kid, I used to get enamored with anyone that was really good at anything. But I think I’m past that point now. Now, any time I see someone who is really good at something, here’s what I want to know: how did they get so good?
Because to chalk everything up to luck, good timing, or talent is a load of crap, ladies and gentlemen.
Actually, you know what it really is? It’s a cop out. It’s an excuse so you don’t have to try.
So when I see someone who’s really good at something, I want to know how they did it.
Eventually I found a video that was basically “here’s how you freestyle rap.” He was talking about how he practices… and I gotta tell ya, it’s VERY clear why he’s so good. What he focuses on when he practices, how he focuses, the level of specificity that he focuses on...it was like listening to an all-star fighter talking about how he trains for a major fight. It was SO detailed and SO specific. Anyone who has succeeded at a high level can recognize it.
You can look at this same concept in any industry. Did you know that Lebron James spends $1 million a year on his body? He uses the things that normal people consider “weird” like cryotherapy, hyperbaric chambers, and NormaTec leg boots. He has the best personal trainers that keep him on a strict routine. He even has personal chefs that keep him on a strict diet.
Most people think they’re not like Lebron because they’re not 6’8” and 240 pounds of muscle. They tune out everything he does because they think his height and raw talent is what got him so good. But see, my in-laws are also very tall, but they're not rocking it like Lebron. Because having a body that performs like his takes something other than genes.
Tom Brady did an interview where mentioned that he doesn’t eat tomatoes because they cause inflammation. After that, I can’t tell you how many people got all uppity about tomatoes because they cause inflammation...but the problem with most people isn’t inflammation. It’s not tomatoes. That’s just the easiest thing he does that you can emulate.
It’s interesting that people get stuck on seems like the easiest course of action, or they chalk it up to genes or talent or luck. But here’s the cold, hard truth, the reason that some people with all the desire in the world still don’t make it:
If you want to be first class at something, in any endeavor, it’s going to take a 4-letter word: WORK.
Harry Mack’s practice style is work. The way Lebron James and Tom Brady train and take care of their bodies is work. Ask anybody who does anything at an elite level, and they’ll tell you it takes work - not just to get there, but to stay there as well.
I am absolutely unapologetic about the fact that SUCCESS. TAKES. WORK.
And here’s the thing: you’re already putting effort into something. You’re obsessive about staying up to date with the new shows coming out on Netflix. You know every player on your favorite football team. You know every word to every new song they play on the radio, and you’re the captain of your rec league’s volleyball team.
You’re so committed to things that don’t really matter in the long term, but if you gave going after your dreams the same amount of weekly commitment and dedication as your Netflix habit, your sports habit, and your rec leagues...how much more could you accomplish? How much more important WORK could you do?
Now, we haven’t arrived, but we’ve been able to achieve some measure of success in our lives.
When people ask about it, I never try to make it seem like we did less work than we did. I’m not interested in reducing the work. I’m interested in letting them know that the work is worth it.
There are a ton of tools out there that can help accelerate personal growth. Books, podcasts, blogs, mentorship programs, you name it. Those tools will make the work you do more effective. It will take the effort you put in and make it more productive than it would be on your own.
But these incredible tools will do NOTHING for you...if you don’t get to work.
So if work is so important, why don’t people get to work? I think it boils down to a different 4-letter word:
Fear of looking like an idiot. Fear of failing. Fear of what other people are going to think of you. You’ll make stuff up about how people will perceive the extra work you’re doing - you think they’ll question why you’re wanting more out of life. But you don’t know that they actually might respect you more for it. And that’s nothing but fear.
The fear of looking stupid absolutely kills people’s desire to work. Work takes practice, but here’s the thing about practice: you have to embrace the fact that while you practice, you’re going to look stupid.
In some arenas, that practice can happen in private. But if you want to be successful in an arena like business, that practice by default is in public, because it involves engaging other people. And if the practice is public, the failing is as well. That means you’re going to look a little dumb sometimes. But that’s ok.
Embrace looking like an idiot and fail faster - that means you’re doing the work to be successful in the long run.
Practice is not being afraid to look like an idiot. Lebron James understands that. Harry Mack understands that. Everyone who has succeeded at a high level in anything understands that. So maybe it’s time to understand it for yourself.
If you want results, you need to work, and you need to work hard. There’s no amount of efficiency that can replace working hard. There’s no super secret system that can replace working hard. There’s no amount of tools that can replace good, old fashioned hard work.
You can’t streamline being uncomfortable.
You can’t avoid practice.
Your success is waiting on the other side of your work, and also on the other side of your fear.
So embrace it, and let’s get started!