I saw a one of those ‘inspirational’ pictures / quotes things the other day on Facebook. I must admit a fondness for this sort of thing, don’t judge me, you must do too, given how overwhelmingly popular these things seem to be!
This one was a particularly good one actually, it was a picture of an iceberg, with a ‘recipe for success’ shown alongside.
So above the water, the visible bit if you like, was the word ‘Success’. And below the water, the so called 90% of an icebergs mass, were what the author would like us to consider the unseen efforts that go into achieving success. They listed the following:
I haven’t posted the picture as even though it was doing the rounds on social media, I couldn’t find an original source for it and therefore can’t provide a reliable credit. But you (ahem) get the picture? It may seem like success is easy, but there is a whole load of stuff going on under the waterline to ensure you get where you need to be.
So far, so good. I’d even agree with that list, though maybe its not exhaustive, and I’m sure there’s stuff you’d like to add.
I love the fact that failure is there as a consideration. No one I know has ever succeed at anything without failing along the way to getting there. Thats why risk is there too. You have to risk something in order to get somewhere, even is its just about risking the ‘status quo’.
But the word I was expecting to be there isn’t. Its sort of covered in the subtext I guess but I wanted to make a specific point of it.
Or even, dare I say it, age. Specifically, getting older.
Sure, there are many stories in the media about this spectacularly successful but teenage ‘tech’ entrepreneur, or that stupendously successful but only just post pubescent media darling, but think about this… Statistically speaking, dividing the incidence of those types of people into the population of the world comes up with a number so close to zero its not worth differentiating?
What do I mean by success?
I’m trying to keep as broad a definition as I can. I mean success in whatever endeavour you have set out to succeed in. Could be in business, or sport, or family, or health or playing video games or anything else.
What I’m saying is, in my estimation, it takes time to ‘achieve’.
To be clear, I mean this as a positive, I’m not trying to put down the efforts of young people everywhere! I’m trying to encourage…
I remember my twenties very well… I’m not that ‘experienced’! And what I remember was the ‘struggle’. Everything seemed tough. I wasn’t earning enough, I wasn’t promoted enough, I didn’t have the car I wanted or the house I wanted. I was with a wonderful person (and still am) and that helped, but things felt like they were taking forever.
Then in my thirties, looking back anyway, things started to move. I got the good jobs, started earning good money, got a lovely house, and even had a wonderful family with aforementioned wonderful person (yes, the same one)
But at the time, it still wasn’t enough. I felt limited, held back, I felt like things were conspiring to stop me from getting where I wanted to be. I felt exactly the same as I did in my thirties, like I was wading through treacle. Despite having all the things I thought I needed to feel ‘successful’, I still didn’t actually feel it.
It’s only now in my forties, that I realise what I’ve achieved. Yes, I have a wonderful family, a beautiful house, my dream job. But it’s more than that. I feel like I’m at the peak of my powers. I feel like there isn’t a (business) situation that I can’t beat. I feel like there isn’t a client I can’t deal with, or a person in my business I can’t help.
I don’t want to sound big headed, but I feel like I know so much now. I’m not going to list my abilities, thats too much even for me! But this is one of the reasons I set up this blog. I can help people in business and marketing because I feel like I’ve got some serious game going on!
And do you know why?
It’s not what you might think.
It’s not talent, or ability, or luck, or being in the right place at the right time. Its not qualifications, though Ive got some of them. It’s not who I know, though I know some awesome people.
It’s simply being ‘time served’.
I’ve been there, and done it, and as they say, bought the T-Shirt! I’ve made the mistakes.vI’ve made them over and over on occasion too. I’ve learned as I’ve gone along by doing. I’ve paid my dues.
I don’t think much these days, about standing up in front of a room full of people and talking to them. Why? Because I’ve done it hundreds of times. I don’t mind meeting the CEO and discussing the annual budget, or having those ‘difficult’ meetings with a CFO. Why? because I’ve done it before, over and over.
Are you experienced?
Its like driving. Have you ever thought that you can’t deal with busy city traffic? You’d be amazed at the change in you once you’ve driven in it for a few months. If you think back to the first time you drove on the motor way, you might remember the fear of doing 70mph?
That seemed a huge speed right? When was the last time you stuck exclusively to the speed limit? It really feels like a limit now doesn’t it?
You cope with these things by doing them. Then doing them over, and doing them again and again.
I always think that one of the differences between me and someone who maybe hasn’t achieved what they set out to do is that when I’ve made a mistake, I’ve done my damnedest to learn from it.
You know that the old saying right? The definition of insanity is ”Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’? That’s what I’m talking about here.
And it all comes from doing. From living. From trying.
It doesn’t feel like it when you’re a kid, but just hang on in there. You’ll get there. When nothing seems to happen fast enough, when no one seems to be able to see the true potential you have just waiting to burst out of you, just wait…
You’ll get there, just keep doing it, keep learning, keep pushing.