The Forgotten “Secrets” to Success

Over the next several posts, I’d like to help clear up some of the very dangerous illusions I think our current culture has created about what it takes to be successful.

Hollywood, commercialism and our own decadence has falsified our reality and is leading us into a form of self-destruction.

What Ever Happened to HARD WORK?

I interviewed the “Hit Man” David Foster this past week (He will be on the cover and interviewed on the CD of our September issue of SUCCESS).

Not familiar with the name David Foster? There is no question you are familiar with his work. David is deemed the No. 1 music producer in the world. He’s the guy who discovered Celine Dion while singing under a tent in the rain in Quebec, Canada, and introduced her to American audiences. He also discovered and produced Josh Grobin, Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli and tons more. He has produced numerous records under his own label and has won 15 Grammys in his four-decade career… bottom line, this is a guy who knows how to create success—over and over again. You will love the feature story on him, incredible!

During my interview I probed David repeatedly on what his secrets to success were. He had some incredibly insightful tips and philosophies which I won’t spoil here, but the recurring theme was—the guy just outworks everyone else.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious. It’s true, there is a common reality to the superachievers I have interviewed and we have featured on the cover of SUCCESS, be it Donald Trump, Dr. Oz, Colin Powell, Donny Deutsch, Suze Orman, Richard Branson, etc—they all are hardworking.

Now there are a few caveats I need to add here:

1) They LOVE what they do, so in reality, it’s not really “work.” In fact, most of them (myself included) would rather be working than laying on a beach somewhere.

David said it well, “…if I’m not working on Saturday, somebody else is. I believe that people who don’t work on the weekends are people who don’t like their job.”

2) They don’t just work to be working; they are still only spending time on high-value productivity strategies (review 12-Steps to Greater Productivity). They are advancing their dreams.

3) They do value time off (see Learning to Value Time Off post), BUT as a necessity for greater productivity, not for time-off sake’s. This is a super-important distinction. Said another way, time off is a means to the end (accomplishing their passion, dreams and ambitions), not an end or the objective itself. Get it?

Why am I compelled to write about this? Culturally, I think we have lost some of this mindset, character and discipline. Sorry to say, but especially in the younger generations—mine included.

There are several influences that I think have warped our reality and made us lose perspective. The first one I will talk about here and save the rest for subsequent entries:

American Surplus Has Created American Sloth

I spent some time recently with an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. He told me about his experience the first time he walked into an American supermarket and saw the endless amount of food available. Then he walked into a Wal-Mart, a 99 cent store, an open-air farmer’s market and all-you-can-eat buffets in Vegas. He said it was so surreal to him he said he literally felt like he was on a different planet, in a different era. Then he told me the story of how he grew up never having enough to eat and what he went through to escape communist Uzbekistan to finally arrive in America completely penniless.

Today, he is incredibly wealthy with an incredible home near the famed Pebble Beach golf course in Carmel, California. He said becoming successful in America was easy. All he knew was working hard. He simply outworked everyone else (he is a very successful developer, started out as a simple carpenter).

This is how he explains how he did it, “Outworking Americans is easy. Everything comes too easy for Americans. They have been spoiled by their riches. They lack the hunger. I know what it is like to be hungry, that is my advantage.”

Nothing Fails Like Success

I read about this principle recently. This is a potential danger in every business and one you should watch out for.

Here is an example: A new restaurant opened up close to my home on the beach in San Diego. When they first opened, the place was always immaculate, the hostess had a big smile for everyone, the service was impeccable (the manager came over and assured it) and the food was sensational. Soon, people started lining up and the wait time was always over an hour.

Then they started to take their success for granted. The hostess became snippy, the service staff disheveled and curt, and the food was hit or miss. They were out of business in 18 months. They failed because of their success. They stopped doing what made them successful to begin with. Their success clouded their perspective to the underpinnings or the original cause of their success.

I find this reality affecting Americans but in much greater proportions because the transitions are generational. We now have two if not three generations who have only known prosperity, wealth and abundance. Our expectations of what it really takes: the grit, hard work, discipline and character to create success doesn’t exist much anymore… or, at least, it has been mostly forgotten.

This is why we are getting our butts kicked by the Chinese, the Indians and others. It’s a simple history lesson, the reality affecting America once happened to the Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, etc. Nothing fails like success.

It’s time to restore this character. If not for the sake of saving America, at least for your own greater success and achievement.

Don’t buy into the genie in a lamp, sit on your couch and wait to attract the checks in your mailbox, rub crystals, walk on fire, channel a 2000-year-old guru, chant affirmations, ad nauseam “secret” to success. That is hocus-pocus commercialism appealing to your weaknesses, particularly laziness, entitlement, greed, something-for-nothing and the lottery mentality. That’s not the way it works.

Here is what it takes to be successful: hard work.

If you don’t believe me, ask your grandfather, or better yet, your great-grandfather.

Want to contemporize this: work hard and work smart. You will be fabulously rich.

Have a rave or rant about this post? Tell me and everyone else in the comments below.


Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.

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