Note: This is a guest post from Adam Appleson of ZenTactics
Let’s say I gave you two road to success. The first road is super-quick, it all happens in an instant. It’s like taking the express elevator to the top floor of a tall building. The second road involves multiple steps, is long and hard, and would take you considerably more time. It feels like taking the flight of stairs in a tall building.
Imagine that. You have an instant, guaranteed route to success with the first route. But what if I told you that you’d be better off taking route #2?
How can this be?
Let’s find out.
Route #1: You’re given the winning lottery ticket to a multi-million dollar jackpot. You walk off the job, ready to let the good times roll.
Route #2: You start a business that provides a valuable service or product to customers day-in and day-out. It may even involves living hand-to-mouth for a while because you have to keep expenses down. You work tirelessly day and night, and sometimes you wonder if it will all work out. But you persist, and eventually you become successful with it.
After looking at the routes, don’t tell me which one you really want.
I already know. Because most people I talk to always want route #1. Who doesn’t want the easy way out? If your job is stressful, requires long hours, and you don’t really like it, you want instant relief. A winning lottery ticket sounds like the way to go.
But before you cash in your winning lottery number, let’s look at some true stories of lottery winners.
Ken Proxmire was a machinist from Michigan who won 1 million dollars. He started a car business with his brothers, and within 5 years was broke.
Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery two times — in 1985 and 1986 — a 5.4 million dollar jackpot. After losing it all to gambling and giving it away to all the people who asked, Evelyn now lives in a trailer.
The truth is, the same thing could have happened to you or me, for one simple reason.
We weren’t ready for it. When we are given something instantly that we haven’t prepared for, we don’t know how to handle it. Learning how to earn and manage money are skills. To become truly great at something requires practice, persistence, and discipline.
And that’s why you need route #2 to build success that lasts.
Route #2 is why the creators of the successful Guitar Hero video game franchise, Eran Egozy and Alex Rigopulos, are so successful. They went broke several times when they were first starting out. They tried creating a joystick music improvisation system which flopped. Then they developed a product that they thought would help them break into the $10 billion dollar a year karaoke industry in Japan. That also flopped. At one point, they had zero revenue coming into the company. They finally created a non-music game that had better sales than their previous efforts, but it wasn’t their vision of long term success. They really wanted a successful music game.
But the great thing about falling down is that it’s a great feedback mechanism.
Screwing up leads you to try new things if you persist. In fact, scientists say that learning from our mistakes is how we learn to perform better. And when you persist, you acquire the motivation, skills, and the discipline needed to hold on to the success you earn. That’s why when a company, RedOctane, proposed that Alex and Eran make the Guitar Hero game while they made the controller, Alex and Eran jumped at the opportunity. The rest as they say is history. Alex and Eran created one of the best-selling video games of all time. I’ve played it with friends and had a good time. Maybe you have too.
So take the long road.
It’s the road that gives you the skills you need to hang on to the success you earn. And when you do that, you’re building success that lasts.
Adam Appleson is the author of All You Need Is One, a guide for helping child abuse survivors make new friends. He is also the founder of ZenTactics, a website that helps abuse survivors grow and heal with personal development articles on topics such as goals and motivation.
Photo by Nicholas_T