Original question from Quora:
How do I work harder in life and be more motivated to become super successful in life?
Do you just read motivational and personal development blogs all day?
Short answer is no. The long answer might be more interesting…
At various times in my life, I’ve been both successful and unsuccessful. Some might call me super successful, and compared to where I was even ten years ago, that is probably true.
This is what I do to get to where I want to be.
I start with a vision for what I want some future version of my life to be. Then I use a system to make it real.
Here’s a true story of how that ends up working out.
When my sister graduated high school I remember going to the graduation ceremony and seeing the valedictorian give a speech. I thought the idea of being valedictorian sounded cool. I decided I wanted to be one.
How do to become valedictorian? It’s shockingly simple. You get straight A’s. Keep your 4.0 and you win.
In a sense, that makes it really straightforward to achieve. Go to school, do your homework, study hard, and get A’s.
Repeat that for every class and when you graduate you have a 4.0 and are valedictorian.
It’s deeply uncomplicated.
So, I did that. I was smart enough and good enough at school that I didn’t have a problem working hard, studying, getting my homework done and all of that.
Over time, it’s just what I did. And after a while, I got good enough at it that the homework and studying part was “easy”. It was routine. Eventually, I found myself finding new things to read and learn because learning and studying is “just what I do”.
It’s like a “natural athlete” who is always working out, playing sports, training in the gym and so on. It’s “just what they do”.
It’s a system. It’s a habit. It’s not even motivation after a while. It’s routine.
Eventually, after years of routine, systematic, process driven habit…
I became the valedictorian of my graduating class. It was no accident. It was a system.
93.28% (a made up statistic) of all people are capable of getting an A by working hard. Those people could get straight A’s if they followed a system that forced them to get straight A’s.
In reality, out of 220 or so students in my graduating class, only 2 of us got straight A’s.
So, even though the vast majority are capable, less than 1% did it.
If you look at success in any area, you’ll see the same pattern. Only 1% or fewer are willing to “do what it takes”, aka have a system that propels them to success.
Most people won’t.
To boil it down to simplest terms - you need to have a vision for what your version of success is and then you need to use a system that is going to give you the best chance of making that real.
Reading blogs or quora or books or other things might give you ideas on how to get there, but taking repeated action towards your vision of success is what will get you there.
Here is the funny thing - your system doesn’t have to be good to still get you there.
For example, say your version of success is to marry a beautiful woman. I can give you a very dumb system that will get you there. It’s in no way the best system out there, but it’s almost completely foolproof.
Every time you meet a beautiful woman, ask them out on a date. Make sure you meet at least one beautiful woman a day.
Do that every day until you are dating, engaged, and married to your eventual beautiful wife.
Here is why it works…
You never know who “the one” is until you date them, so instead of guessing who it might be, just go on a date and find out. By asking out every beautiful woman who fits that criteria, even if you don’t know them, like them, or anything else… you are more likely to find one to marry.
Also, by asking EVERY beautiful woman you will get better at it. You’ll get more comfortable doing it. And by doing it EVERY DAY, you are going to have the habit of asking beautiful women out on dates.
In the worst case scenario, after five years of doing this you would ask out 1,825 beautiful women on dates. Most will say no. But if 20% said yes, you will go on 365 dates with beautiful women. One of them is probably your future wife.
Statistically speaking, most people end up dating fewer than 50 people before they get married. The real number is maybe 10 or so.
I would bet money that somewhere between person one and person 365 that you get married.
Here is why it’s not even remotely the best system…
The only criteria is external beauty. People have far more criteria than that. Things like lifestyle, behavior, religion, and so on are all critically important.
You can improve your odds dramatically by say asking out beautiful women in church if your religious beliefs are critical to you as opposed to asking random women on the street.
There are many other dimensions you could filter by and many people do take great effort to filter their choices.
You will spend a lot of time meeting and talking to beautiful women who aren’t a great fit for you.
I could go on and on about why this system could be better. But it doesn’t matter.
Here is why it’s the best possible system…
The best possible system is the one that you use and repeat. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t filter the best. It doesn’t matter that you might waste lots of time.
This system would completely achieve the goal of eventually finding a beautiful woman to marry. Do it, repeat it, and it works.
The details of the system aren’t as important as using it and refining it to fit your vision of your future self.
I ended up taking hard classes in high school because I wanted to. But, if my goal was just a 4.0 I could have taken the easiest possible classes and still made my vision real.
The details of your system are less important as the doing of the system repeatedly until you win. In fact, over time the details might change, and the process will improve as you learn more.
Use a system to make your vision reality. That’s how you become successful.
P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.