On August 13, 2016, Michael Phelps set a new record. He topped the table of Olympian medalists with a grand total of 28 medals, out of which 23 were gold medals. Larisa Latynina, who ranks second in the table is 10 medals behind.
What does the greatest champion of all times possess that sets him apart from the rest?
What lies behind his success in four consecutive Olympic Games?
Is there something I can learn from him that I can apply into my life to create my own version of success?
At a young age of eight, he was already setting his swim goals.
During his teens, he even had a five-year streak where he trained every single day, 365 days a year — Sundays, Christmas and Thanksgiving included.
The rationale — by summing up all the Sundays in a year, Phelps would be about 50 training days ahead of his competitors.
Consistency adds up to big impact.
I wrote about how having a purpose can bring meaning to our life and the first step to that is to take action.
This time, I’m going to talk about the most vital part of success that nobody ever talks about.
The boring bits.
I’m not going to lie. It is mundane. And that’s why we seldom hear it being mentioned.
We only hear of the glorified version of entrepreneurship.
“Google” became an official English word in 2006 but Google’s history goes back to 1996.
So what events took place between the point of inception to the point of success?
I call it — “Making-It-Happen” work, MIH for short.
Challenge Behind MIH Work
In MIH work, one wants to move towards the point of success. However, the path is not straight. Undefined and perhaps even curvy. And nope, it’s not signposted.
The rules of MIH is simple — to keep moving forward. That’s it.
However, there’s one huge obstacle.
Newton’s third law can be used to describe this:
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I have come up with a list of nicknames for this reaction force that’s acting against the forward motion.
My List of Nicknames
I’ve found that the best way to counter this reaction force is to set up a daily routine — the boring crap — that doesn’t exactly pop up in our daily conversations.
Imagine how the dialogue will flow.
You: “How was your day yesterday?”
Me: “Great, I woke up at 6am, had my breakfast at 6.30am and left my flat. I was behind my computer from 9am to 6pm. I reached home at 7pm, cooked my dinner, watched “Games of Thrones” and went to bed.”
You: “How’s your day going?”
Me: “Awesome, I got up at 6am, had my breakfast and left for work. I only left at 6pm. I reached home at 7pm, had my dinner, read a book and was knocked out by 10pm.”
You: “How’s your week been?”
Me: “Fantastic! I’ve been up at 6am everyday and I crack on by 9am. That’s when I’m most productive. Between 9am-6pm. I was mostly back home before 8pm, grab my dinner, watched a film to relax and typically I would be asleep by 10pm.”
I think you’ve got my point. Nobody likes to hear repeated stories. It’s monotonous. Dull. Uninteresting.
Everyone believes there’s something special about the hero’s journey. Something extraordinary that’s beyond the average man.
The Real Story
Sorry to burst the bubble.
Daily grind is the real story behind the route to success.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you keep working on it to create an awesome product. If you want to be a successful marathoner, you clock up the daily miles. If you want to be a successful best-selling author, you write a couple of chapters everyday.
The focus here is dedication —setting up a routine and pouring in time and effort to execute those actions.
To get you from Point Inception to Point Success.
My point is, setting up a daily process — something as simple as waking up at the same time every day. To spend an hour or two on the activities that will make you more skilled, more knowledgeable and move you towards your personal success.
That’s what creates a success story.
The hype around instant success
Nonetheless, there's little awareness about the actual hard work, sacrifices and effort that are poured in to create that success.
People who aren't successful yet doesn't get featured on Forbes. Nobody interviews folks who doesn't have an impressive result slip.
There is nothing exciting and interesting to report and sensationalized. We see alot of "success stories" where people start from zero to get to where they are today.
That's "exciting". It's news-worthy. People are inspired and interested to learn more about the transformation journey. The journey where "the fairy godmother transform Cinderella from rags to a gorgeous lady and met the charming Prince".
Failures are typically condensed into a couple of paragraphs. While the success are hyped up and more talked about.
It's no wonder most people underestimate the amount of effort and obstacles needed to get to Point S.
Every expert was once a beginner
Before Michael Phelps became one of the legends of the Olympic Games, he was scared of water. He only dreamt of becoming a champion when he was eleven.
After three years of training, Phelps finally made the U.S. National B Team (not the A team!).
It was about another year before he set his first world record.
From the initialisation of his dream to achieving his dream, succcess didn't happen overnight. It took years of mundane work.
Years of patience and discipline to build up the skills to compete at that international level. And eventually it paid off!
What you need to succeed
And build your patience and develop focused self-discipline.
- Patience is the attitude to adopt when you don't see immediate results and things are not going as planned.
- Self-discipline is the quality of being able to behave and work in a directed way even when there are external interferences and distractions.
Both discipline and patience produces consistency that will more likely produce your desired result.
Even if you might not get your dream result, I can assure you, your skills will improve by leaps and bounds.
Because you invested time and effort into improving yourself. You're going to become stronger and better than before.
Make-it-happen (MIH) work is not solely about achieving success. It's also about making things happen in your life.
Quote from American self help author, Robert Collier says it best.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Before success arrives, focus on your MIH work. It doesn't attract a huge load of fanfare but it's the phase that tests your resilience and reveals how badly you want to achieve your goals.
The most vital part of success that's seldom highlighted
Those late nights, the days you feel things are more difficult than usual or when things doesn't take place as planned and expected.
The make-it-happen phase is a helluva roller coaster ride and it's hard to hang on. Nonetheless, hang in there.
When you manage to hang on till the end of the ride, success is within your reach.