Five years ago, when I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I assumed every day would be flashy and exciting. I thought it would be fast-paced, sexy, spectacular. And yes, I love being an entrepreneur, but it isn’t what I initially thought it would be.
Nowadays, I realize how working towards success in any area — whether business, art, or sports — is more like a marathon than a sprint. A marathon is slow, steady, and even dull at times. A sprint is quick, intense, and exciting.
Where a sprint is all about building and releasing tension in less than a minute, a marathon is about consistency, patience, and persistence.
If you want to achieve anything worthwhile in any area of life, get comfortable with the fact that success isn’t about fast sprints (even if your name is Usain Bolt) but rather about a slow and not-so-sexy marathon.
The Highlights Versus The Behind-The-Scenes
The problem is that we only see the highlight reel of success. The athlete with the Olympic medal, the entrepreneur with IPO, the bestselling author on a book tour, the pop-star that became an ‘overnight success.’
What we don’t see, however, is the long and often gruesome process of writing, practicing, building, creating, and growing. We don’t see the day-in, day-out repetition of nearly the same activities simply because the behind-the-scenes isn’t as flashy as the highlight reel.
Yet, the behind-the-scenes is where success is achieved. It’s the years of daily repetition of certain habits and activities that lead to extraordinary results. And this daily repetition isn’t always flashy or fun.
As Muhammad Ali said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Yet, his highlight reel is what people saw, talked about, and believed. Not the behind-the-scenes of training every single day while hating it.
This creates the perception that success is flashy, fast-paced, and exciting, which does more harm than good. It leads to a distorted reality. One in which obstacles, challenges, or setbacks don’t exist. Neither do boredom, patience, or the need for incredible persistence.
Remember, the behind-the-scenes is the least sexy part of success, yet it’s the most important one.
The Difference Between Success & Mediocrity — The Master & The Dabbler
Success is all about having a long-term vision and consistently working towards making that vision a reality. It’s about repeating a few highly important activities again and again — sometimes for years in a row — so that eventually you’ll be an ‘overnight success.’
Those who want to become a successful painter need to paint almost every single day. Those who want to become a best-selling writer need to write almost every single day. Those who want to become a professional athlete need to practice almost every single day. And those who want to build a successful business need to work on it almost every single day.
More often than not, you need to do this for years before seeing any sign of success, which is precisely why success is more like a boring marathon than an exciting sprint.
Most people dislike this process because it’s not as exciting as they want it to be. Repeating the same type of behaviors day-in-day-out will get boring at times.
On top of that, the process of achievement takes much longer than they want it to take. They don’t have the patience and persistence to work on their craft for long enough to attain the level of mastery required for success.
This is why you see so many people riding trends and hopping from one endeavor to another. In the entrepreneurship space, this is more obvious than in any other area.
Look at the average Instagram profile of an ‘entrepreneur.’ A month ago, they were running a social media marketing agency, now they are an e-commerce dropshipping expert, and next month they’re a crypto investor.
These people are dabblers. They want success on-demand, easy, and fast. Just in the same way you can get your food at McDonald’s or your entertainment on Netflix.
The critical difference between successful people and people living in mediocrity — between the master and the dabbler — is that successful people are almost always long-term oriented, while people living in mediocrity are almost always short-term oriented.
It’s those who embrace the boredom, follow the process and consistently put in the work — possibly without seeing any sign of success for a long time — that will eventually achieve great results in life.
With their long-term perspective, they’re able to achieve a level of mastery that most others won’t even come close to.
Consistency Wins The Race
In the beginning, your performance will likely be far from what you expected. But with enough time and repetition, you’ll improve. This is why consistency is vital. You need to have the stamina to stay patient and be persistent. Only then will you reach levels of mastery that lead to extraordinary results.
Your first podcast episode will likely suck, but your 100th will be a lot better. Your first painting will probably be terrible, but your 50th will be good. Your first article will likely get zero views, but your 100th might get thousands. Creating or pursuing something worthwhile takes time. There is no short-cut.
Now Do It
Maybe there’s 0.01% who become an ‘overnight success’ because of a quick but intense sprint. For the rest of us, the only realistic option for achieving success is by signing up for the marathon.
At times this will be boring and repetitive, and definitely not as exciting as the highlight reel looks like. But this is a good thing. It means you’ll have less competition, as most people won’t have the patience and persistence to follow this process.
In the end, the results will be worth it, whether it’s achieving financial freedom, making an impact on society, leaving a legacy, or having followed your passion.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab