Our culture loves stories about talented overnight successes. The only problem is those stories are myths. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Talent is actually the least important part of success. The most successful entrepreneurs are not the smartest. The most successful people are the ones that work the hardest. They are the ones that don’t give up.
How Persistence Works
In the hyper-competitive global economy there will always be someone smarter than you. There will always be someone who is faster than you. Beyond a certain point, you cannot control things like your natural talent or intelligence. But, you can always control your persistence. You can decide you will not be out-worked.
If are committed to working for your goals every day, you will eventually reach them. You will find success. Someone smarter than you may be become successful first, but success is not really a race. If you keep doing your part you will get to where you are going. That is how persistence works. It keeps you moving.
The thing is, the people who are smarter than you may not be hard workers. Sometimes people are used to having things come easy. When an obstacle comes along, someone smarter than you might just give up. They might take it easy while you are grinding your way towards your personal definition of success. This is how the tortoise beat the hare. This is how successful people function. They just keep moving forward towards the goal, regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Why Intelligence is Overrated
Intelligence is an important attribute. But, it is not the defining attribute of successful people. Almost everyone you are competing with is smart. Intelligence is the barrier to entry. Intelligence is only enough to let you play the game, it is not enough to make sure you win.
Notorious former president Richard Nixon grew up in humble circumstances. He was smart and worked hard. He got a scholarship to Duke Law School. But, once he got there he found out that he would have to compete to keep his scholarship. Every year fewer scholarships would be available. Not getting a scholarship would mean dropping out of school. Everyone at Duke Law School was intelligent. Everyone was near the top of his or her college class. Richard Nixon knew he was not even close the smartest one at Duke. So he decided to outwork everyone. His classmates called him “Iron Butt” because he spent all his time studying. He ended up graduating third in his class. He wasn’t the most intelligent. He just persisted.
If you want to be successful you have to be persistent. You have to be willing to put in the work, consistently over time. You cannot rest. You cannot rely on your talent or your intelligence. There will always be someone smarter or more talented. The only thing you have complete control over is how hard you are willing to work for success. The best salesman in any department is not the one with the most charisma. It is the one who makes the most cold calls. It is the one who gets the most rejections because he or she has asked the most people.
It’s time for you to get back to work and pay the price of success.