There Are No Shortcuts

Instant success…one of the absolute worst things that can happen to any human being! Though at first it might seem like a, “Are you out of your mind, I’d love to be wildly successful ‘yesterday’,” it goes against every natural, universal and spiritual principle known to mankind. It not only creates more challenges than benefits; it is unsustainable, creates a completely false sense of security and tremendously inhibits ones ability to not only create lasting success but to even have ‘clue one’ as to what it really takes to achieve lasting results.

The classic Aesop's fable, 'The Tortoise and The Hare' illustrates this timeless truth magnificently. Though the hare is fast and speedy compared to the lumbering tortoise, the tortoise wins the race. How? Slow and steady beats the tar out of fast and foolish. There was an article from Fortune magazine written not too long ago entitled, "What It Takes To Be Great" It was powerful then and remains so today in its study of some of the most successful human beings in the world. Following are several excerpts from this incredibly insightful article:

(Fortune Magazine) – What makes Tiger Woods great? What made Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffet told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, folks, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

In virtually every field of endeavor, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely. Yet a few do improve for years and even decades, and go on to greatness.”

Oh, it gets better. If you are one of those seemingly overnight successes, I hate to burst your bubble but if you haven’t been busting your butt for at least 10 years…you may want to reconsider your definition of “great”. It continues as follows:

No substitute for hard work: The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.

What about Bobby Fischer, who became a chess grandmaster at 16? Turns out the rule holds: He’d had nine years of intensive study. And as John Horn of the University of Southern California and Hiromi Masunaga of California State University observe, “The ten-year rule represents a very rough estimate, and most researchers regard it as a minimum, not an average.” In many fields (music, literature) elite performers need 20 or 30 years’ experience before hitting their zenith.

If compared to your peers, colleagues, friends or family you have measurably achieved what's defined as success, and you haven't put in 10+ years of tireless effort; I would caution you to heed the findings of, “What It Takes To Be Great”. Time is not only the great equalizer; it is the only true measurement of lasting achievement. Don’t allow yourself to simply be a one-hit-wonder. Manifest your gifts over time and only then will you be recognized as the epitome of what your ambition has achieved but more importantly whom you've become in its pursuit.