Get rich quick schemes, pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing, etc. Even 9-5 jobs can convince us of a simple fallacy. A lot of people feel like they can find a simple path to wealth, but that isn’t true. Wealth comes from hard work and effort.
So the main question is, how do you make money? Does it come from working in a certain field or from lucking into the next groundbreaking product idea? It comes from being excellent. In fact, history tells us that it matters very little what we choose to do (within reasonable bounds), but that our persistence, perseverance, and excellence in that field are what lead to success.
Let’s take a look at several examples of this.
Arthur Guinness – Guinness Beer
One of my favorite examples of this concept is Arthur Guinness, the founder of Guinness Beer. Arthur Guinness was an Irishman with a simple plan – make beer and do it as well as possible. His reasoning was that he could create a product that people would love and enjoy so much that it would not only be profitable, it would change the moral landscape of Ireland.
Not many people know that Arthur Guinness had altruistic intentions when creating his delectable Guinness beer. The nation of Ireland was covered in rampant alcoholism, as people turned to Whisky and harder liquors, to such an extent that they were literally falling down in the street and dying, or going home and beating their wives and children to death.
Arthur Guinness decided to create a product, a beer, that would be filling and enjoyable, so that people would be less inclined to drink Whisky and hard liquor, and that would be affordable enough that the poor people of the city would have a healthier option than the contaminated water of the time. And he clearly succeeded. In fact, Guinness is one of the biggest breweries in the world, with some of the largest distribution chains the world.
So what was his secret? Did Arthur Guinness find the perfect recipe immediately and turn the world around with his magical draught beer? Was he just in the right place at the right time? No. He worked hard, investing himself, his time, and his money, as well as so much passion and energy that eventually he was destined to succeed.
Thomas Edison – Inventor of the Light Bulb
Thomas Edison is a checkered individual, for sure, and I certainly side with Nikola Tesla in the annals of history, but he was certainly successful and enterprising, and definitely a brilliant individual.
Thomas Edison was one of the most prolific inventors, not only of his time, but of all time. His contributions to electrical products including the light bulb and similar products have revolutionized the world. What was his secret? How did he manage to become so successful and to create such revolutionary inventions?
One of my all-time favorite quotes from Thomas Edison is in regards to his invention of the electric filament for light bulbs. When asked by a reporter if he was disappointed that he failed over 1,000 times when attempting to design the filament with different materials, he responded simply, yet profoundly. He said, “I have not failed, I have simply found 1,000 solutions that didn’t work.”
Therein lies the key to his success – his mindset and his persistence. Thomas Edison saw these not as failures, but saw every attempt as a learning experience. He allowed that to drive him forward until he found the correct solution.
That’s the issue most people have. They want to become like Thomas Edison and find the solution to a problem and strike it rich through a brilliant invention. What they don’t realize is that Thomas Edison spent years working and failing at solutions, only to eventually find something that worked. He put his heart and soul into his work, and it paid off because he was excellent at what he did.
Usain Bolt – World’s Fastest Man
Usain Bolt is an all-time favorite athlete of mine, because of how down-to-earth he seems, as well as the fact the owns both a Cheetah and a tortoise as personal pets. However, his work ethic is one thing in particular that has made him stand out and become successful.
Usain Bolt was a fast individual as a child, without really trying. He was a speedster known for running track and doing it well. However, he wasn’t a world record holder – not until much later.
When Usain Bolt broke the world record for 40-yard dash time, he was paid millions of dollars, all for less than a few seconds of work. However, the part that isn’t publicized is that he spent years, if not decades, training for those few seconds of time. He put in effort and passion to become excellent at what he does. And it paid off.
Obviously, he had a perfect combination of natural talent and opportunity, but the lesson still applies. He took something he was good at, and persevered with it until it gave him extreme success.
So What Do We Do?
How do you work in your office job Monday through Friday? Or what kind of effort do you put in with your family? Remember, this is not limited strictly to your employment or financial riches – this is success in general. If you want to be the best father or mother you can, or you want to strike it rich and start your own business, you have to put in effort.
Excellence, interestingly enough, is not a natural thing. It is, according to every major study and report, earned through hard work and effort. A new definition of “expert” has arisen in recent years, after having studied so many people considered to be experts in a field, and that is someone who has spent over 30,000 hours working at something. That disregards any natural ability or opportunity someone has, because the root of success and expertise is simply working hard at it.
Chris Thile, one of the youngest “expert” mandolin players, has been playing mandolin since the early age of 4 years old, and performing professionally since he was around 10 years old, eventually touring and recording with Nickel Creek in his early teens. He has put in countless hours working on the mandolin, and made a name for himself as a professional musician. Outside of his musical exploits, he was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, worth roughly $2.5 million for his expertise in mandolin.
The moral of the story is, it doesn’t matter what you do. The only thing that truly matters is that do you your thing excellently.