“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work,” said famed football coach Vince Lombardi. “Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” I talk with a lot of people who want to achieve more, be better leaders and perform at a higher level. However, wanting to be better and more successful doesn’t make it happen. The question we must answer is, are we willing to pay the price?
As a college student, I had a desire to learn, to study hard and give academics my best effort. The problem was my actions didn’t match my desire. I enjoyed other aspects of my college experience at the expense of applying myself fully to the learning. And, as Lombardi highlighted, success didn’t come before hard work. Thinking about being a good student and having good intentions was not going to get the job done. Those were mere lip service.
The truth is success requires action. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:23, “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!” If we want to make progress, achieve our goals and see results, we’ve got to put legs to our words. Every once in a while, I forget that. I’m a planner and sometimes get bogged down in the planning process. Luckily, Laura, my wife, steps in and encourages me to start taking action.
Why We Get Stuck
Some people, like me, want to have everything planned out before they take the first step. Others don’t really want to put in the hard work (pay the price) it takes to be successful. Fear causes some individuals not to take action – they fear that if they try and fail it will only prove true their belief that they just don’t have what it takes. Excuses are easier to come by than results.
Regardless of what is holding you back, getting on the path to success is only 3 steps away.
1. Count the cost. Pull out your favorite writing tools and literally tally up what you will have to sacrifice and invest to at least start to make real progress toward the thing you’ve been saying you want. A few things to consider are: time, money, effort and lifestyle. If you really want to run a marathon, you’ll need time every day to train, money for shoes and you may have to sacrifice those lazy Saturday mornings and eating out for lunch most days.
2. Commit to pay the price. The people who say they want to be successful but don’t want to work for it – don’t take this step. Dave Ramsey says, “Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change.” Likely if you’re reading this, you’re looking to make positive changes in your life and leadership. If so, then you have to commit to pay the price. It goes deeper than simply making a decision. Commit to what you’ve set out to achieve and write out a list of reasons for why you’ve decided to pay the price. Share it with your inner circle so they can be most supportive. Review it often.
3. Complete one next step. Since hard work leads to success, the most important thing is to take the next logical step. You don’t need to have it all figured out. Just do the one thing you know you need to do to make progress today. It sounds overly simple, but I can tell you from experience that taking that one step is powerful. You may not have your marathon training plan laid out yet, but in the meantime, it would be a good idea to put in a few miles. Doing something is often better than doing nothing. Taking action builds momentum.
To achieve results and be successful, it takes hard work. Count the cost, commit to pay the price and complete just one next step. Then take the next logical step. Build momentum and establish a rhythm. Unless your goal is translating dictionaries, hard work will come before success every time.
Question: What is one next step you can take today to move closer to your next achievement?