I’m not especially talented. There are far better writers out there than me. They also have better college degrees, better connections, better ideas, and probably sexier abs than I do.
But where other writers beat me in talent, I rely on the only big guns I have: my obsessive commitment to taking action, every single day.
See, what I’ve learned is this: consistency beats talent. Consistency beats good intentions. Consistency beats luck. And you want to know the real secret I’ve learned?
Consistency even beats quality.
That’s right. I regularly and consistently outperform others whose work is of much higher quality than mine.
How? Simple: I’m more consistent than they are. Where they garner attention from great product here and there, I consistently get great engagement from my constant action.
Consistent, disciplined action is the greatest determining factor to your success. That’s great news for you and me — it means that our lack of talent can be overcome by the simple act of just doing it, every day.
In his autobiography, Steve Martin (one of the most famous and successful stand-up comedians in history) described his humble beginnings in comedy — a nonsensical magic/comedy act he gave for small families and foot traffic while working at a dusty, second-class amusement park.
“I was not naturally talented,” he wrote, “though working around that minor detail made me inventive.” He spent a decade learning his craft, practicing his routine literally thousands of times, up to 4 times a day at the amusement park for years.
“I kept scrupulous records of how each gag played after my local shows. ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Big Laugh’ or ‘Quiet,’ I would write down; then I would summarize how I could make the show better next time.” he wrote.
After years of practicing, tweaking, re-doing, and practicing, he finally began to make enormous strides very quickly. In a few short years, he became the most dominant and well-known comedian in the world.
“Perseverance is a great substitute for talent,” Martin wrote.
Consistency and discipline are the greatest determining factors of your success.
How consistent and disciplined you are is up to you.
How To Consistently Wake Up at Early, Read More, and Get Stronger (without failing halfway)
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How do you do that “one thing” that you keep trying but continue to fail at?
By doing it today.
That’s what I tell my coaching clients all the time. They want help in starting new behaviors, quitting their old destructive habits like procrastination and laziness and start new ones like writing and creating a business.
But how? they ask me. I need help, I don’t know what to do. I always start fine, but after 2 weeks…I quit and go back to the old me.
The answer is simple, I tell them: just do it today.
Just for a few minutes. Then we’ll talk tomorrow. But don’t think about writing the book or remodeling the entire dirty house or earning $10,000 in a single month from your business…
Just start with writing 500 words today and clicking “publish.” (Or 100. Or even 50.)
Just start with cleaning off the kitchen table for 5 minutes.
Just start with pasting in your first Amazon Affiliate link.
That’s how you start a habit. Sustaining it is another story, but even the world’s most disciplined people have a tough time sustaining anything without momentum. You do it once, that boulder rolls forward a few inches. You do it again tomorrow, the boulder rolls a few more inches. And the thing with boulders is that they get easier to push when they start rolling.
How do you wake up at 5AM every day?
Or read an hour every day?
Go to the gym 3x week?
By doing a little bit of it today.
“95% of our society — the ‘mediocre majority’ — fail, time and time again, to start exercise routines, quit smoking, improve their diets, stick to a budget, or any other life habit that would improve their quality of life. Why? Most people don’t realize the seemingly unbearable first 10 days of a new habit is only temporary.” -Hal Elrod
Action Brings Clarity
“Almost every problem people face in their lives are all the result of not taking enough action.” -Grant Cardone
If you don’t know what to do, then just do something.
Most people remain stuck in their mediocre circumstances while doing more complaining and worrying than actual action. When you take massive action, you get massive results; you’ll discover you like it, dislike it, or feel neutral towards it. Another action step, another lesson learned.
Those lessons will bring clarity.
The problem most people have is that they don’t have clarity; they don’t know where they’re going, what they’re supposed to do. I feel this often myself. It’s a terrible feeling, not knowing what to do.
The solution is simple: action.
The worst thing you can do in the face of constant uncertainty is to do nothing, staying in your rut. Action breaks the cycle; action brings clarity and tell you what your next step is.
I’ve been writing for over 5 years. The first 4.5 years, I was constantly confused and unsure of what to write about. It felt like I always had writer’s block, and I couldn’t scrape more than one or two ideas without my mind going blank. I had very little clarity.
What finally ended it? Consistent, disciplined action. In May of 2017, I wrote an article on Medium every single day of the month (you can go look). Be but warned — those articles are mostly terrible. Bad structure, confusing headlines, self-indulgent diary entries.
That’s OK — the quality wasn’t the point. Action was. And action brought clarity. Publishing something was better than nothing. I saw some of the articles start to stick and get traction. I followed those ideas, and copied that structure for the next month. I went from 1,000 views in May to 25,000 views in June. It doubled again a couple months later.
A small bit of action can bring enormous results, very quickly.
Action brings clarity. If you’re feeling stuck or uncertain, the solution is to take action, consistently. It gets you moving and points you in the right direction — even if it’s just a few steps at the beginning.
“A man’s wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.” -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash
It’s Impossible To Become Successful If You Keep Making Those Excuses.
“Success is not something that happens to you; it’s something that happens because of you and because of the actions you take.” -Grant Cardone
The truth is, it’s easier to make excuses than make progress.
That’s why so many people are stuck in mediocrity. They have chosen the easier, softer way, and although it’s easier, that road always leads to unmet expectations and more disappointment.
Jim Rohn, best-selling author and one of the greatest motivational writers of the 20th century, one said, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” There is no other option, and both require energy — why not choose the pain of discipline? That road leads to achieving extraordinary goals; the other road leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction.
It’s impossible to achieve the success you want if you keep making excuses. There will always be an excuse not to act, and most people grab those excuses. As another best-selling author, David Schwartz, once said:
“The fellow who has gone nowhere and has no plans for getting anywhere always has a bookful of reasons to explain why.”
- What is your favorite excuse?
- Why do you keep making it?
- Will making excuses help you achieve your goal?
- What would a more productive response be?
These are high-level questions, ones that demonstrate advanced self-awareness and give you the information to fundamentally change your behavior and upgrade it into something better.
This is what the world’s top performers do; they continually assess what their excuses are, and how they can change their default response into one that brings progress.
In the words of world champion chess player Josh Waitzkin:
“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously.
If left to my own devices, I am always looking for more ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable.
When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid confrontations but to become at peace with it. My instinct is to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.”
If you act like everyone else — making the same excuses, choosing entertainment over learning, choosing the easy road — you’ll end up where everyone else ends up, continuing the cycle of mediocrity.
If you want what no one else has, you must do what no one else does. Stop making excuses, and start making progress.
Going to the Gym Once Won’t Get You in Shape
“You’re not an X-er unless you regularly X.” -Zak Slayback
Writing one article doesn’t make you a writer.
Learning “Smoke on the Water” on YouTube one afternoon doesn’t make you a guitarist.
Playing on DuoLingo for an hour doesn’t mean you can speak Spanish now.
You have to do it every day if you want to be enormously successful.
I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, most people are terrible at consistency.
In the words of Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four Hour Body:
“People suck at following advice. Even the most effective people in the world are terrible at it. There are 2 reasons:
1. Most people have insufficient reason for action. The pain isn’t painful enough.It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have.
2. There are no reminders. No consistent tracking = no self awareness = no behavioral change.
Consistent tracking, even if you have no knowledge, will often beat the advice from world-class trainers.”
Most people are terrible at consistent daily routines.
Daily engagement is the only way become truly successful with a new skill.
For every day you keep going, hundreds of others quit.
The only reason — the only reason — I’m confident I’m going to be in the top 1% of writers in the world someday is because I know I’m going to write every day.
The day I stop practicing daily is the day I start to lose.
In the words of Ramit Sethi:
“At the moment when we accept our weaknesses and stop deciding to grow, we’re the BEST we’re ever going to be. It’s all downhill from there.”
Never stop growing. Never accept your weakness and give it power to dominate your life.
Photo by David Boca on Unsplash
There are so many people in the world that are so much more talented than you. They’re sexier. Smarter. Richer. More creative. More likable, more charming, better-connected, and better-looking.
But there is one, singular thing you can do better than them:
You can outwork them.
This sheer commitment to keep-going-no-matter-what beats your stronger opponent, every time.
The truth is, there are a lot — a lot — of people out there with better resources than you. They have better environments, families, connections, friends, better talent than you do.
But the truth is, most of these people still won’t be consistent. And although others might achieve success just because they were born into favorable, lucky circumstances, the biggest determining factor of success is consistent, disciplined action.
In life, we all must choose two pains: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret. They both require energy; choose the path that will get you the goals you want.