A Key to Success: Choosing the Hard Way

Many people want to live a successful life. Not many, however, are willing to pay the price.

I have read the stories of many great people, and they all share common characteristics. In particular, there is one principle that I believe they all follow, whether they realize it or not. The principle is this:

Choose the hard way

Yes, choose the hard way. When given the choice between the easy way and the hard way, great people consistently choose the hard way.

A good example is Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He once had a successful restaurant. Life was good for him. But one day the government moved the highway junction in front of his restaurant to another site. As a result, the traffic to his restaurant plummeted. It went so bad that he eventually had to sell his restaurant. Worse, he was already 66 years old at that time.

The easy way for him was to just blame the situation and do nothing. The hard way was to go selling his fried chicken door-to-door, even if that means sleeping in his car.

He chose the hard way. He kept knocking on doors despite many rejections. He endured having to sleep in his car. He paid the price and eventually built Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Another example is Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, there are so many examples in his life that it’s difficult for me to choose. But I’ll choose this one: his bravery in the Spanish-American War.

In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy at that time. That means he didn’t need to go to the front line; he could just sit behind his desk and do his duties. But he felt compelled to go to the front line. So he did; he led the Rough Riders into battles and almost got killed for that.

One more example is the story of Bill Gates and Paul Allen. They saw the Altair microcomputer on a magazine cover in 1975. Microcomputer was new at that time. The easy way was to just read the magazine and talk about it. But they chose the hard way: they worked day and night for three months to create a programming language for Altair. That product launched Microsoft.

Everywhere I look, I see that successful people live by this principle. They choose the hard way. They pay the price for success.

Michelangelo put it well: “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”


For a collection of my best motivational writings, check out Motivation Booster.


  1. Floyd Mayweather is another great one. You might not like him, but you have to respect his work ethic. He’s worth hundred millions of dollars and still runs 7 miles everyday.

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