As I have tried to absorb the necessary skills to make a reasonable living wage (and beyond) in life, I have sincerely asked myself about shortcuts to success based on my experiences, the people prospering around me, the people I work for, etc. And I realized… there aren’t really many out there, folks. Everybody works.
Now… Do some people work as hard as others? I think that’s genuinely subjective and it depends on what form of work you’re talking about? Physical labor? Mental effort? Strategic exercises? Spiritual work? Moral quandaries? Philosophical conundrums? And so on. There are different types of work, but I hold (for the most part)…
But What About Overnight Successes?
I call “BS” on the thought of overnight successes. There are people who are just getting attention for work that they may have been doing for a while, sure – but there are VERY few legitimate examples of anyone just starting something suddenly and then being a huge success.
A singer walks into a random karaoke bar. Their song comes on, and they sing an amazing performance that rivets unsuspecting tipsy-to-drunken onlookers, one of which just happens to be a major record talent agent who offers them a deal… That person didn’t just decide to sing THAT day. They were in the right place at the right time, sure — but I guarantee you they worked on their singing for a while.
The business that suddenly gets a lot of attention nationally DEFINITELY had some work going into it prior to that acclaim to build up whatever value they’re offering to the market, organize whatever team or resources are there, and set up their business practice.
Athletes spend years building their skills.
Artists (of all kinds) do the same.
That hit app that just blew up and everyone is using on their phone took time to develop.
Hell, even investors had to have a little patience in most cases and (hopefully) take a few calculated risks — and let’s not forget how many of them gained their investible assets in the first place before buying their monetary product or real estate property or stake in a business…
Few Rewards Are Effortless
With the exception of being born into wealth or having a fortunate gainful run at a game of chance (the lottery, gambling, etc.) – you don’t really see that many 100% valid examples of shortcuts to success out there.
A child who is born into a wealthy family did nothing. There was no effort on their part to be born. When their parents (rightfully) lavish them with a great lifestyle or their deceased relative leaves them money in a will, that’s more so a byproduct of circumstance and familial relationships than work (and “no” I don’t count all of the “painful” discussions you had to have with your 80-year-old aunt before she passed as work).
The person who hit the lotto or had an amazing night at a casino worked more than the kid who was born in the previous example. They had to put in the effort of going to the place or maybe learning the rules of a game before participating. They gained the valuables they’re gambling somehow (I’m going to guess by working at some point) — but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll count this as good fortune and say that they didn’t have to work too hard.
Notice that I’m not counting things like “being given money” or anything like that, and that’s because even those things didn’t necessarily come “for free” to me (free being without any work) because I count that as luck, and I think we create our own luck in most cases.
Hear me out.
The lucky person (in most cases) did something to position themselves in a position to be lucky. It is very uncommon for a millionaire to walk down the street and just randomly point out another person to bequeath their fortune to. Normally, if something like that happens, it gets passed on to someone who put in work with the millionaire in the past. Or it goes to an organization that distributes it to individuals who are working with the organization in some way to receive those funds.
I think lucky people are working to be in a position to get something. And yeah, you could definitely throw the person from the lotto example into this bucket based on how I’m defining it, again – I just broke them out on their own for the sake of simplicity and to give another nod to a potential shortcut out there.
Had the lucky person done nothing at all? Taken no action whatsoever to achieve their luck? They would’ve gotten nothing.
That is my point.
Even when we try to find shortcuts in life, you’ll quickly find that everything is rooted in some form of “someone having to do something first” in exchange for their reward.
An effort is involved.
The Value of Networking
I want to address the idea of “People who get wealthy/successful because they know the right people” separately because this does happen (it’s not an illusion), but it falls into what I mentioned earlier in the second paragraph opening this post: Everyone doesn’t work evenly or in the same ways — but believe me, they’re doing SOMETHING.
Think about this…
A person comes up with an idea and immediately thinks, “Who do I have to know to get this done?”
They take the time to look through their string of associations, and they ask for introductions.
They attend conferences and social events – shaking hands and trying to make connections.
They pay for coffees and lunches just for a bit of time from knowledgeble people.
They make new friends and make sure they’re keeping up with major events in others lives, always keeping their eye on the prize awaiting the social efforts they’re putting out there.
They do steps #1 – #4 just to get in front of one group with the access and resources they needed when they initially came up with their idea.
They present that idea and get funding (and then have to actually do what most would traditionally call “work” after this point to get their idea off the ground — that’s an entirely different list).
After all of that, they still keep up relationships with those they met along the way – and wash, rinse, repeat the process again into future successful endeavors, at a quicker pace, as their reputation builds.
Did they just work?
What if I told you that it took 2 – 6 years for them to get from step #1 to steps #6 & #7 in that process very briefly outlined above.
Did they work?
Some people would say no, but probably nearly everyone who has done anything even remotely close to this would tell you the person in this scenario likely worked the hardest they’ve ever worked in their life.
It is different. Yes. But it’s still working to pull something off.
There was no shortcut present.
It may look like that to some. It may be an unfamiliar game that was played (to some). But trust me, it was work, effort, energy, learning, growing, and application – all in a different form than you may normally do at your 9-to-5.
I Post About This Out of Frustration
I do not know many people who aren’t willing to work in some form. Nearly everyone I know is willing to prepare themselves for something greater and put in the required amount of effort to attain what they want out of life.
But there are those who, I think, feel entitled to something from life.
Whenever I come across anyone like this – or whenever I read about something like this – it pisses me off because I honestly think about how much those in my circles and I have worked to get to our positions in the spectrum of life.
I don’t even associate with people who I get this feeling from, so if you and I talk — please understand that I am in NO WAY talking about you. I wouldn’t have your energy around me if I felt like you were entitled and honestly expecting shortcuts in life.
Everybody isn’t going to be a billionaire.
Everybody isn’t going to be famous.
Everybody isn’t going to be successful (professionally or personally).
But so long as no one genuinely just stops and expects life to hand them things, and we are all willing to take our bumps in life — get back up — and put in some effort to move on… Things may be ok.
You will most likely get value back from the world in proportion to the preparation, value, and effort that you put into it. And yeah, I mean that in terms of all aspects of your life.
And most importantly: ACT.
If you are currently feeling stuck, don’t fret. Life isn’t a constant state. It changes because life IS change. Just be willing to put in a little effort to move things along, and please don’t expect shortcuts. You can simplify and optimize a lot of things. You can outsource, etc. But don’t lose sight of the fact that YOU need to work as well to get things done.
How far you take that is up to you. Once you reach a spot that you are satisfied with, great! Take pride in that and cheer everyone else along the way in their journey, too.
This was a post to no one, but a post to everyone (including myself — especially myself) all at the same time.