As I was trying to decide what to write about, the absurd idea of giving advice came to me. However, I do not think of myself as the best advice giver.
Instead, I will share a little bit of my story and a few of my believes.
Whether what I am about to share with you is useful to you or not, you’d be the judge.
The Usual Questions
People who are interested always ask me the same questions,
- How did you do it?
- What is required to achieve what you did?
- Did you ever encounter any problems?
- What was the most difficult obstacle to overcome?
The questions are always rather generic, as if trying to find a magic formula to effortlessly get what you want.
There Is No Formula
There is no one-size-fits-all, universal formula. What works for some does not work for others.
Most are surprised when I tell them that it took me 17 years to get to where I am today. Inevitably, I get “the look.” It sounds like such a long time.
Everyone thinks that 17 years is a long time to get from point A to point Z. However, the reality is that you go from point A to B to C, making a bunch of stopovers before you get to Z (and you never get to Z).
It is a race of endurance, not a sprint.
I believe a lot in discipline, perseverance, and street smarts. This is what worked for me and it has to do with my education. And I am not talking about college, since I was never an A student. I am referring to my upbringing.
The Discipline of Martial Arts
There is a theory which says that to be an expert in something, you must dedicate at least 10,000 hours of practice. Malcolm Gladwell mentions it in his book, Outliers and I believe that.
When I was 17 years old I got into martial arts, practicing non-stop for the next 10 years. I stopped for a while and returned again for another five years. In total, I practiced five days a week, two hours a day for 15 years, which barely got me to 7,800 hours of training.
That’s 7,800 hours doing almost the same things in each session.
However, the pursuit of perfection is what makes you an expert.
A black belt is a white belt that never gave up.
I love this phrase, because it speaks of discipline, perseverance, and being humble.
In the process, you acquire skills that will help you in your future endeavors. This was my case indeed, and I owe a lot to martial arts.
Perseverance and Resilience
There’s a popular saying that goes, “he who perseveres conquers.”
For example, my daughter has a natural talent for gymnastics. She’s so good at it that she got to the advanced level after only two months. She’s good, and she knows it.
Her coaches say that on average she does most exercises in 20% to 30% less time than other students. However, when something does not turn out as expected on her first attempt, she usually gets frustrated and gives up. She does not yet understand the concept and the benefit of persevering.
When you want to shoot for the stars and achieve something extraordinary, then you must persevere to succeed. Period.
It is always important to read between the lines. That’s where opportunity lies. This is the kind of thing you learn over time.
There is a Bruce Lee phrase that captures the essence of this,
Be water, my friend.
When I was in college, I never thought of being an entrepreneur. It simply never went through my head. The stereotype I was following was simply to find a job, and live a life similar to my parents’. Needless to say, I never did anything like this.
The long road to achieve what you set your mind to is never a straight line without obstacles. You have to be willing to adapt.
One More Thing
Do not worry if you do not have a clear goal at the beginning. I didn’t.
Conquering small victories will help you to see more possibilities on the horizon, things you never imagined. Discipline, perseverance, and street smarts are tools to demand more of yourself.
Always strive for more and broaden your vision.
Don’t Go at It Alone
No matter what you want to achieve, you cannot do it alone. Be humble and ask others for help. Surround yourself with people who can learn and are not afraid to fail.
This is part of acquiring the necessary experience to succeed.