Wouldn’t you agree that fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to staying on track to greatness? And that patience (or a lack of it) is a close second? I think that’s why a lot of people stop trying – they’re not sure all the effort is going to be worth it if there’s no payoff, and real success can take a really, really long time. I’ve read two books lately that really help sort out these two issues in a way that may help get your ass kicked back into gear.
The first is The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. Olson points out how most real success is the result of small, relatively easy actions done consistently over a long period of time. The payoff for those tiny actions is so distant (and invisible at the time they are done) that it’s easy not to do them. There are dozens of useful insights in the book, but one point I took from it is that it’s possible to study past success, figure out what those small correct actions are, and to stay on track with them even though the benefit is not easily apparent. Keep that perspective helps with all the daily jobs that may not be exciting or highly motivating.
The other book is Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin. Colvin’s point is that most extraordinary achievement can be explained by lengthy, concentrated work rather than by the miracle of genius. He advocates a very specific type of practice for virtually any activity that can lead to success. If the overall sequence is done correctly, incredible gains are virtually guaranteed if you keep at it long enough.
We’re well into a century of achievement science, and the research is starting to stack up. The best of us are far more accomplished and our skills far more developed than most people were 100 years ago. One reason is that we understand much better how to achieve. Do your thing, do it well, do it often, and do it for a long, long time!