As a young person in today’s world, it’s hard to be realistic with yourself about how success is truly achieved when you’re surrounded by images of Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Markus Persson (and if you don’t know who him he is the guy that created Minecraft and later out bid Beyonce and Jay Z on a 70million dollar house).
They’re all very successful, they all make lots of money and they all amassed their fortunes before the age of 30…some before the age 25.
Now, I want you to get these people out of your head. Yes, that’s right…out of your head! Even though these people may be part of your Instagram feed, they’re not your competition in life.
I know it seems like the norm these days to be 25 and multi-millionaire, but it’s not. The people I mentioned earlier…none of them were an “overnight” success. None of them woke up one morning to magically discover they were rich, successful or famous.
This is one of the biggest problems in today’s world. It’s tough to truly understand what it takes to achieve true success in your chosen field. I know it feels like if by age 25, you haven’t developed an app, that Google is willing to buy, that will make you millions of dollars and cure cancer, you might as well pack it up and go home.
Social media makes it seem like everyone is an Internet millionaire or on the verge of becoming the next big thing. Seeing these young, beautiful, talented people blasted all over your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds can be challenging to remain realistic with yourself about what it really takes to become successful.
There are two things you need to know about creating a successful career:
1) You have to master and hone a skill or a set of skills.
According to Cal Newport, (author of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”) in order to become successful you must, “develop a skill or a set of skills that are so good you can’t be ignored.”
Your goal is become an expert at a skill (or a set of skills) that’ll make people want to give you money in exchange for performing that skill(s). It’s this skill set that you hone and perfect that’ll ultimately make you stand out and become more marketable as you grow and develop your career.
In order to become a “master” at something you have to work at it on a daily basis and put in the long hours. In 2008 a book named “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell was released and soon everyone was talking about, “the ten-thousand-hour rule.” Gladwell discovered from his research that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to become a master in most fields.
Now 10,000 hours is not a hard and fast rule. There are some people who “master” a technique or skill in less time. While there are others who will take longer to achieve the kind of success they desire. The point is that it takes time to master a skill.
What’s the difference between a guitarist that’s pretty good and plays in the local band on the weekends and someone like Prince or Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen? (Boy, I’m really showing my age right now!)
Luck? No! The answer is: hours and hours of continued practice. These men are considered some of the best guitarists in the world because they practice every day. No excuses. They push themselves to master a particular piece of music until it’s perfect. Once they master something they go on to the next thing. They’re constantly striving to be better and they never feel like they’re finished learning, growing and excelling.
This is persistence and with persistence comes discomfort. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels and it seems like no one is recognizing your hard work. Yet, if you want to achieve true success, you must push past that uncomfortable feeling and just keep going.
There’s another reason why persistence is so important and this leads right into the second thing you need to know to create a successful career:
2) With mastery comes confidence and confidence increases mastery
As you become more comfortable at doing and performing a task or skill you become more confident. That confidence pushes you farther and in turn increases your mastery. Confidence and mastery work together to help you achieve success.
Angela Duckworth, PhD discovered at her Duckworth Lab at the University of Pennsylvania (her research later became a book called, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”) that having “grit” is as vital to high achievement as having intelligence.
You gain “grit” by overcoming a hardship. The more you’re able to prove to yourself that you can overcome tough obstacles, the more confident you feel in your own abilities. The more confident you feel…you get the picture. One feeds into the other and on and on it goes.
Mastering a task, learning a new job, starting a new semester of school…there are always long stretches of time when you’re just working away, putting in your hours and feeling like you’re not getting much in return. So, here’s a quick exercise when you need to get out of your head and need a little inspiration to just keep going.
I want you to research 3 people in your field that you admire. If you’re unsure of what career field you even want to be in, who are 3 of your heroes either now or when you were a kid?
I want you set aside an hour to do a little research to learn more about your heroes. Get on the Internet and start learning about your heroes. Research their lives. How did they get to where they are today? How did they overcome obstacles? What words of wisdom can you take away?
Once you’ve researched your heroes, find one take away from each person. Something they said, something they overcame, whatever it is and I want you to write it down in a place you can see everyday. I want you remember that even your heroes started where you are today. They took it one step, one day, one project, one performance at a time.
I know you can do it.