What Jeff Goins, who is a writer and entrepreneur, thinks about why risk and reward stories are nothing more than fairy tales.
Not long ago, my friend Brian quitted the job of a technical writer in the company that is in the “Fortune 500” list to try something new. On his last day at the office, colleagues expressed a mixture of envy and surprise. They could not believe that he had really made such a leap into the unknown. But in fact, Brian has been planning this moment for 10 years. Take a close look at business books, listen how the self-taught guru nostalgically recalls the beginning of his career, or visit an old friend who once achieved success, and you will probably hear the same phrase: “I took the risk.”
We like to remember these phrases when we talk about great success. This is the morality underlying the stories of risk and reward that we constantly hear from wealthy entrepreneurs, movie stars and successful artists. But this is a lie.
Big changes are occurring slowly
Recently, in an interview, I was asked how I became a professional writer. The podcast author wanted to know what was the turning point for me.
I replied: “There were no such things. Nothing serious. There were just a lot of small changes that have come together over time. ”
For a long time, this confused me. I did not have a turning point; there was no dramatic declaration of peace that changed everything. But as soon as I learned to look at someone else’s success impartially, I realized that the strategy of slow and steady changes may be more common than we think. In 1975, Bill Gates founded Microsoft. Only six years later, he signed a contract with IBM. Then it took another five years for the company to become public, making Gates a multimillionaire — which led to his so-called “instant success”.
It took Steve Jobs even longer. He founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in 1976, but the company could not boast of great success until 1984 when the Macintosh appeared. And even after this, Jobs had a hard time: he had to endure the expulsion from his own company, which only after his return became a global giant, as we know it today.
This is consistent with the ideas of the psychologist Karl Anders Eriksson, who is known for his theory of “deliberate practice” and the “rule of 10 thousand hours.” In his research, Ericsson showed that in order to become an expert in your field, it takes at least 10 thousand hours of practice. In other words, before you quit your job and rush to new projects, try not to rush to get the skills you need to complete them successfully.
How do high hopes disappoint us
And we are still obsessed with the idea of rapid changes – perhaps more than ever, given the incessant emergence of breakthrough technology startups and the ease of launching an online business. We assume that big success is the story of how one unusual person made a risky bet and won. But usually, things are very different.
One of the reasons is that in reality our brains are programmed to resist drastic changes. This is how Robert Maurer, author of the book “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way”, explains such thing:
“The brain reacts to serious tests, activating the tonsil, the center of fear in the brain. If the test seems too difficult, if the first attempts fail, the fear increases and the person gives up, often it brings harm to self-esteem. If the movement to the goal occurs in small steps, the center of fear is silent, and the brain develops new good habits, repeating the same actions over and over again. ”
Maurer advocates the use of the concept of kaizen — this Japanese word means a process of continuous, gradual improvement. Instead of trying to quickly lose weight, exercise for a minute a day, then two, three, and so on. Over time, these small efforts can turn into something big and sustainable.
Instead of jumping into the abyss
So how can you apply Maurer’s advice?
- Start with small things — really small. Most people think that great things require great beginnings. But it is not so.
- Form the right habits. Any business — from yoga to auto repair -– everything requires practice. And the more you work on it, the easier it will be for you. Habits make work easier and make us better.
- Keep in mind that as you accumulate a skill, you increase the demand for it. And in the end, it turns out that your path to success is not a leap into the abyss, but a reliable bridge that you slowly and consciously built year after year. Yes, Hollywood is unlikely to make a film about it. But you will have a much better chance of success.