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Ever see a farmer plant one seed and just watch, hope, and pray, patiently, for it to take root? As if the farmer would expect such a seed to provide the ideal harvest? Remember the story about the guy who felled a tree with one swipe of the ax, or the infant who stood up and walked for the first time without even the smallest of stumbles? Me neither. Then why do you suppose we “give it a go” , trying to do something significant, only to quit the next day, convincing ourselves “it” didn’t work.
The dirt: Once and done.
Imagine our tree feller (not fella). He has the latest equipment and sharpest ax. He is experienced, competent, and confident. He’s taken down many an oak in the past. If he were to only take one or two swipes at the great 80 ft. tree, regardless of this prowess and preparation, is there really any chance he will succeed in knocking down the tree? Of course not, however, what if he were an incompetent boob with a dull ax, and took as many swipes at the tree as necessary until it did eventually fall? Could persistence be a viable proxy to lack of skill and preparation, resulting in ultimate victory? Could planting large numbers be the secret to those who win, leaving those who spend the most time planning and preparing in their dust?
It is simply amazing to see the number of “nutballs” who are incessantly focused and committed to results and pays no heed to how many attempts it takes. Often, they don’t even know how hard it is supposed to be. They just do it until it’s done. You see, had they known how hard it was supposed to be or how many attempts it would have taken, they may not have even started. As a former bodybuilder, we understood this principle. So when our partner was going for a new weight record, we’d lie and say there was less weight than there actually was without allowing him to see the weight stack. Our partner would then lift the weight as he expected to be able to do, even though he had failed at this weight many times in the past (due to his mental block)
Such people may have even forgotten to research the best methods, acquire the best tools, and asked for advice from a competent person. Nonetheless, their relentlessness carries them to the finish line long before most people even get out of bed. Even though had they prepared, they could have finished sooner and accomplished more, the point is that they finished. They’ve reached their goals, their dreams, and have accomplished something that most never will.
This is not to suggest you can just do anything and accomplish everything. There must at least be a basic working true knowledge and level of competence to put the machine in motion. However, what if through sheer undying effort we not only increase our chances of winning, but we actually build competence along the way, getting better as we go?
You have to be bad before you’re good. Do you believe anyone was an all-star right out of the gate? Sure, there have been those with immense talent, but certainly as good as they were, it was their immense effort that made them even greater. If you were to perform a task one thousand times, could you really remain as bad as you were on attempt 1000 as you were on the first? You may not become the next Pavarotti, but you certainly would sound better than three ferrule cats procreating!
If ridiculous effort leads us to true competence, the reverse certainly isn’t true. High levels of competence and knowledge do not lead to activity and effort. To have the talent, ability, and competence to create and accomplishment something significant offers no more in the way of results and success than the drooling idiot with his finger-painting kit. This type of wasted talent, if influenced by others, may be one of the greatest shames in our world. However, when work is added to the mixture, we may experience a positive explosion.
We can further see that it is not really work ethic over a lack of preparation and skill that leads us to the Promised Land. Rather, it is the by-product of our work ethic that improves, solidifies, and creates a mastery within our preparedness and skillset. Even if we are lacking in those areas in the beginning, through repetition of the right activities, we are unable to stay unmastered for very long. We have to get better, lest our intention all along was to fail. It’s not the fool that outwits the wise man, but the fool that outworks the wise man, who will come to riches.
So why don’t we plant large numbers? Seems simple, doesn’t it? Work hard in the right vehicle and design the life you wish. Plants as many seeds as necessary to establish the harvest we desire. Whether we desire happiness, wealth, health, good relationships, or just control of our life, once we know the how, there is nothing left except to put in the work. Considering we all have the same 24 hours in the day, successful or not, it cannot be that we don’t have the time. Surely we can develop any skillset of our choosing and devote the time required to earn a level of competence, if we truly desire it so, right?
As we know, simple doesn’t always equate to easy. One of the hardest things for most people to overcome is fear. While there is as much fear in success as there is in failure, let’s explore failure. Of course, if we consider that failure may only occur upon giving up, then it’s really the temporary setbacks and rejections we endure that deflate us. For our purposes here and to hold with common diction, we’ll use failure interchangeably with the less-permanent idea of setback.
Without becoming engrossed in a huge yet fascinating subject, in which you can easily find a multitude of resources, let’s redefine failure. From the time we were knee-high to a grasshopper, we’ve been told failure is bad. Naturally, we wish to avoid that which is bad, so we avoid failure. In fact, it is common to believe failure to be the opposite of success. What if failure were actually a requirement for success? What if this one lie was the cause of our true failure in life? Consider that failure may be one of the most important ingredients to success, rather than its opposite. So much so that without failure, there can be no success. Can it be any more simple and profound? Every success in your life, big or small, was the result of initial and continuous failure, wasn’t it? From spitting up your milk as a newborn to still dropping food on your lap as an adult, you have, as a result, likely mastered putting food in your mouth.
Consider that even professionals, those at the top of their game and the best of the best at their craft, fail often. Hall of famers in baseball have a 30%-40% lifetime hitting average. That’s right, it takes failing 7 out of 10 times to become the best in baseball. Notice how we never seem to remember the misses, only the hits. More than skill and preparation, It’s about how many times you can get to the plate and swing.
Consider the parable of the sower, where some seeds fall on fertile ground while some fall on barren ground or just blow away. We don’t always know upon which type of ground our efforts will fall. Can we agree that if we throw out enough seeds, attempts, that by the law of averages we’ll find enough of the good fertile ground? When our garden is full of goodness, how much will we be thinking about the barren lands outside our domain? What if each sprout were a paycheck or sale or just a pat on the back, under which scenario would you like to fall?
There will always be seeds that don’t sprout, deals that don’t go through, doors that never open. Do you believe the farmer digs up the bad seeds and investigates what happened? Does he try to convince them to sprout? The why would you sacrifice the studs to tend to the duds? Perhaps some of the duds are just delayed and will sprout one day or they may forever be a flop, but if you don’t spend most of your time with the studs, you may end up with a barren field.
This is not the same as giving up, rather it is a matter of prioritization. If you ask 1000 people to join you in business and 100 say yes, work with those 100 before you circle back to the 900 that weren’t interested. What if the 100 people made you incredibly wealthy? Imagine the 100 being the critical mass that helped you create an empire. How much time would you spend chasing the 900 at that point? More interestingly, how many of the 900 would suddenly be begging you to get involved instead of you begging them?
The good news is that if we can revert back to era when we didn’t understand the meaning of failure and rejection, back to the days when we weren’t very good at anything but just kept going for it until we got results, and back to time when we quickly forgot our stumbles as we raced towards our goal, we can set ourselves up for real and lasting success in business, relationships, and life. All it takes is the attitude of doing it again until again becomes a gain.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
I appreciate you spending time with me today. Please share this with any four of your friends who keep giving up. It just might save their lives. I will see you at the top, ‘cause the bottom is just too crowded.