There is a prevailing belief that if you work hard good things will come to you. That’s not true. The sooner we move on from the idea that outworking everyone else is our golden ticket to achievement, the closer we become to actual attainment.
Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset, Carol Dweck was asked whether or not effort guaranteed one’s success.
“No! For example, People with easy access to a good education, people with a network of influential friends, people who know how to be in the right place at the right time – all stand a better chance of having their effort pay off. Rich, educated, connected effort works better.”
If you’ve been keeping the faith and working your fingers to the bone only to see minimal progress, perhaps you need to add a little focus to the three best friends of effort and mindset. They are:
“RICH, educated, connected effort works better.” Carol Dweck.
If you were born into privilege, skip this section. For the rest of us, obstacles often arise that could easily be removed with money. Here’s a recent example in my world.
The biggest sticking point in my entrepreneurial journey is the lack of a coach to direct me (more on that later) and peers to push and encourage me. I opened my inbox one day to an email that solved my problem. It was an offer to join a twelve-person mastermind group led by someone whom I’m trying to emulate.
Until I scrolled down and saw the annual fee of $5,000.00. I’m raising four children on a teacher’s salary. I just couldn’t swing it.
No matter how much money you have or don’t have, scenarios such as this abound. While having all the money in the world won’t guarantee your success, not having it does slow you down. That’s the truth.
What’s also true is the lack of finances isn’t justification for inaction. At this juncture, far too many throw up their hands and do nothing but lament the fact they weren’t born a Kennedy.
What they should be doing is INVESTING SOMETHING, no matter how small.
Although I wasn’t able to join that mastermind, I did purchase on an online writing course, attend my first writing conference, and hire a coach for a $30 monthly call (more on that later).
It has made a huge difference.
What can you afford? Invest something in yourself and in your venture. If you’re not willing to do that you might want to ask yourself if you’re really committed to this thing in the first place.
“Rich, EDUCATED (skilled), connected effort works better.” Carol Dweck.
Although skill level doesn’t guarantee you a seat at the table, a lack thereof will certainly disqualify you from one. You’ve got to be good.
In a recent article, Jeff Goins referenced the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that lays out the gauntlet your work must run before it rises to prominence. (Fasten your seatbelt)
“In order for a work to be considered Creative (in the sense that it offers some kind of enduring work that the world remembers), it must satisfy all three of these areas (individual, domain, and gatekeepers). Here’s how it works:
- An individual must master her craft in a given domain (art, science, mathematics).
- This person must offer the creative work to a field of influencers in that domain who are trusted experts.
- These gatekeepers decide if the work is worth being accepted as authoritative into the domain.
While it is true that some inexplicably (albeit temporarily) ride their pedestrian skill to the top, if you’re not good, the universe has a way of vetting and discarding you until you grow your ability to meet its standards.
And there’s no better way of growing your ability than getting a good coach.
I love Angela Duckworth’s definition of talent. “Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort.”
How awesome is it when you discover you’re actually good at something? What’s even better than that is realizing that practice leads to more and more improvement. You begin to fantasize as being world-class some day. You can see the feel the red carpet, see the flashbulbs, smell the roses.
So you go back to your home base, lock yourself away and practice, practice, practice.
And that’s the worst thing you could possibly do.
Anders Ericsson’s work on deliberate practice tells us why.
Ericsson says, “…simply wanting to improve isn’t enough — people also need well-defined goals and the help of a teacher who makes a plan for achieving them.”
Duckworth concurs. “The growth of the skill is not as dependent on the talent of the individual as it is the quality of the coaching the individual receives.”
No matter how good you think you are right now, no matter how much ground you think you are gaining, the right coach can 10X your improvement.
If Olympic athletes need a coach, so do you.
You might be saying, “That sounds great, but have you seen the hourly rates of good coaches?
Yep. (See the “Money” paragraph.)
You don’t have to shoot for those guys just yet. There are others out there who are willing to serve you if you’ve proven yourself as willing to serve them.
I befriended someone at a conference who makes a living by blogging full time. When he was first starting out he paid a professional $30 for a month for a coaching call. He attributes that $30 a month as a major reason for his success.
He is returning the favor of doing a coaching call with me for that same rate.
Who are you serving that might be willing to coach you up? How much can you pay them? Don’t insult them, but reach out and see if they’re willing.
(p.s. Don’t insult a successful coach by asking them for a bargain basement discount. It will ruin your rapport with them right off the bat. Besides, it’s just rude. And we already have enough of that on the internet.)
“Rich, educated, CONNECTED effort works better.” Carol Dweck.
Jeff Goins says, “For creative work to spread, you have to get exposure to the right networks. Talent is only part of the equation, the rest is network.”
Ten years ago I founded a non-profit in a community in which I didn’t know a soul. I made my first order of business to meet and serve people. I went to ribbon-cuttings, town hall meetings, mayoral press conferences, sporting events, and so on.
The payoff was two-fold. First, the network I developed helped me reach goals I would never have reached alone. Second, I forged friendships that endure to this day.
When I started this writing/entrepreneurial venture I found myself back at square one. – needing to build relationships.
Therefore, I didn’t go to my first writing conference last year to hear the speakers. I went to meet and serve people. It worked just as well then as it did a decade ago.
Because of the relationships I made at the conference, my work has gained greater exposure than it would have had I continued to toil away in the solitude of my home office. And yes, some of the connections I made are slowly blossoming into true friendships.
No matter where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, you must join a network of people that add value to your effort. Sure, those born with powerful connections have an advantage, but far too many well-connected people broke in from the outside.
They showed up, they served, they reaped the rewards.
Be one of those people.
Self Improvement is a Group Effort
A strong work ethic is something that can help you stay at the top, but it’s not enough to get you there. You must do more than work hard, you’ve also got to work smart. And smart work means adding money, coaching, and relationships to your blood, sweat, and tears.
What have you had to add to your work ethic in order to see more results? Join the conversation in the “comments” section below.
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