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Process Over Event
I went back over the notes I have for one of my favourite books, The Millionaire Fastlane by M J DeMarco, looking for a bit of inspiration. Every time I feel like I'm succumbing to the ideal vision of the mediocre I will pick this book up or flick through my notes of it.
There is a lot of solid business advice within this book, focussing on entrepreneurship as oppose to saving. The idea is that you want the money in your prime years so that you can enjoy it, not just saving up enough so that you have money during your retirement years. I agree with that philosophy, as I don't want to think that my youth was wasted saving up for a comfortable pension age.
I don't want to talk about any of that in this article, though. I want to talk about a key topic that DeMarco hits right on the head. It's the idea of aligning your attentions with the process, rather than the event.
When the mediocre look at a successful person, whether in business or celebrity stardom, one of the first beliefs that most people share is that these people were lucky. That is a severely damaging belief and, while luck may have played a part, it's mostly incorrect.
The problem with the luck belief is that it then positions the beholder on a different path, pushing that achievement beyond their reach. If there genuinely was that case that you could work as hard as humanly possible and still not achieve your dreams because of luck, what is the point of trying? It's that niggling thought in the back of your mind that holds you back.
Whether their business was business or stage, there was a process that they followed to get to where they are now. Think about an actor who is now starring in films that gross hundreds of millions of pounds and consider why they are there. Were they just lucky? Or did they make huge time and financial commitments honing their crafts? Did they attend hundreds, or thousands, of auditions and persist in the face of rejection?
There is a quote that goes something along the lines of I make my own luck. The harder I work, the luckier I am. If you think about that for a moment you'll begin to see why that is so important. If the actor in our example believed that he needed luck to succeed, he wouldn't have wasted all that time and money, to begin with. If he needed luck he wouldn't have persisted through the rejection of all of those failed auditions. If he needed luck, he wouldn't have had the mental fortitude to work as hard as he could for such a long stretch of time.
See, the most important key to success is simply showing up. He was lucky that he was picked for the part that broke him into the industry, but that luck was due to all of his hard work and his turning up to all of those auditions. He was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, but he knew where the right place was and kept showing up until it was the right time.
When we think about his success, we somehow skip over the entire process that he followed to end up where he is now and we simply assume that he was lucky. He was lucky, but he made his own luck.
An overnight success story is actually a capturing of an event. When a company goes live on the stock market and the founder instantaneously becomes a billionaire, we read about the event. But it isn't the event that made him a billionaire.
Before the event, the idea had to be formed. The idea then had to be acted upon. The founder had to show up consistently to keep building his product. He had to spend time building awareness of his product. He had a whole list of things that he had to do before he finally ended up at that event.
What importance does this have then? It means that the success of anyone can be traced back to the very beginning and that success can be replicated if the same path is followed. If the routines, habits, and skills were utilised once then they can be utilised again.
The important thing to realise is that there are no overnight successes. When you set a goal for yourself, you have to commit to being faithful to that goal for a very long stretch of time. I have set myself a goal for this blog and I know that I have the capabilities to achieve it. All that is necessary for this to become a wildly popular blog is for me to:
- Show up and write consistently
- Behave in a way to cultivate relationships with readers and influencers
- Realise that it will take time
Being aware of these steps is the easy bit, but staying true to them takes a lot more work. I recently read about the wife of a popular blogger having to write daily posts for two whole years before she got the viral article out that got the ball moving. Two years without any kind of return and overnight she had a successful blog that could support her full time. Overnight she leapt out of the shadows and into the mainstream, but there was a long struggle to that point.
You might think that in the list of prerequisites to a successful blog I should have included things about sharing valuable content, having an eye-pleasing website or adhering to advanced grammatical rules. The truth is that all of those things, if note already present, will come over time. The more I learn on a daily basis, the more valuable these posts become. The more I write the better my writing style will develop. The longer I spend working on the aesthetics and usability of my blog, the better they will become.
Time and practice will solve all of those ability based things, but only actively developing character traits will make it successful. Those character traits need to centre around the thinking that the process is the only thing my thoughts should focus on because by focussing on the process, the event will come.
While this article has focused heavily on the beliefs one must hold to be successful, there are a lot of practically applicable messages here. Look back at the articles focussing on how to set goals and you will see that they strongly consist of planning the route you need to follow. They include identifying the steps you need to take to achieve your goals and the mini habits you need to implement to achieve those steps.
Remember, then, Process Over Event.