Monday, March 15, 2010

Week of 03/15/2010

The Myth of Success
– by David Matthews 2

Once upon a time, a recently widowed man moved into a new town in one of the more affluent communities. He came in with a new BMW, with designer suits, and a wide variety of work experiences.

It wasn’t long before people started to ask him how he managed to become so successful, and he really didn’t have an answer for them. He said that he had no idea how he became wealthy and could afford to buy his BMW or a nice house or the nice designer suits. All he knew was that he did a daily routine, no matter what kind of job he ended up doing and somehow he became wealthy.

So people asked him what his daily routine consisted of. He said that he woke up, did his morning constitutional, went for a morning walk, then he would take a golf club out to the back yard and do some practice swings. He didn’t have a golf ball, so he would just do practice swings and pretend that he was hitting a golf ball. Then he’d go back in, have some coffee and some buttered toast, and then take a shower, get changed, and start the rest of his day.

Next thing you know, people are talking about the new “Practice Swing Method” of success. Dozens of highly successful businessmen vouch for the claim that the “Putting Swing Method” really works and it helped make them even richer. People are starting their day doing the same thing. Sales for single golf clubs go through the roof. Attendance at the local putting range skyrockets. The widower is then asked to speak at motivational conventions and to write a book about how he “putted” his way to success. He markets the whole “Practice Swing Method” through a late-night infomercial and makes a fortune.

A local reporter, hearing about this new “sensation”, starts doing a little research into the claims that doing practice swings with a golf club does somehow make a person more successful. He talked with the people who paid $79.95 for the “Simple Success” golf club and motivational book and asked if doing practice swings every day made them any richer. It didn’t, but they still firmly believed they just haven’t been practicing enough times. After all, the widower himself didn’t get rich overnight either.

So the reporter did a little digging into the “sudden success” of the widower and found out that it actually had nothing at all to do with what he did. In fact, his performance at all of those various jobs he worked at was mediocre at best. The real secret of his financial gain came from his late wife, who was siphoning off money from the bank she worked at and putting the money into treasury bonds. When the bonds matured, the funds were put into their joint bank account. The bank eventually failed, got bought out, and nobody could account for the missing money until then.

And how about the businessmen who claimed that they made more money doing the “Practice Swing Method”? Well, they actually made that money during business deals made at the putting range of the local golf course. Old-fashioned “Good Ol’ Boy” networking.

In other words, the widower’s “Practice Swing Method” for financial success was nothing more than a placebo. It didn’t make anyone richer, other than the widower himself of course, and that was only after he turned it into his “get rich quick” scheme. All that it really did was to waste time.

Success is humanity’s first and probably only real alchemy, the merging of magic and science. And “magic” can be defined as merely that which cannot be scientifically explained. There have been a lot of things in history that could not be readily explained by science that we called “magic”. There are things today that cannot be readily explained by science that fall under the category of “magic”. Ever hear of photosynthesis?

Well, success IS alchemy, because despite all of the so-called “experts” that are out there, with all of the books and with all of the plans, and all of the seminars that are out there, there is no set scientific formula that someone can use to become successful. But that doesn’t stop the myriad of ways that people TRY to come up with one.

Now before we go any further, let’s go over what the alchemy of success is…

Success is a mixture of two elements. First is the “science”; the practical aspect. You come up with a product, a program, a company, a skill to market. You do all of the legwork, all of the development, all of the marketing, and people like or even love your product/program/company/skill.

Does that mean that the product is automatically a success? No. Because it’s still missing something. It’s still missing the “magic”.

Now by “magic”, I don’t mean magic wands, potions, spells, or cheap parlor tricks. I’m talking about things that cannot be scientifically explained or duplicated. “Magic” is a combination of factors. Luck plays a heavy role in this. So does timing.

Take, for instance, the big software giant known as Microsoft. Microsoft started out way back when with one program, MS-DOS, which competed with a whole bunch of other DOS programs. Then they developed the Windows operating system. Was it a success then? No, it wasn’t. But they took advantage of Apple’s rigid restrictions with third-party providers and they struck deals with businesses and they became the standard for developers and for business in general. They BECAME the software leviathan that it is today because of the deals they struck, and because of TIMING. There was a need and they were in the right place at the right time to take care of that need. You cannot DUPLICATE that kind of situation, and some have tried! That’s why it’s called “magic”.

There are other operating systems out there today that are either cheaper or better than Microsoft’s Windows system, and yet, try all they want to, they cannot overcome Microsoft in terms of its success. Why? Because Microsoft managed to take advantage of a situation that was unique at that time and cannot be duplicated. In other words, they took advantage of some of the “magic” at the time.

Now what really annoys me to no extent are three groups who that latched themselves onto the alchemy of success and are making it even harder for the rest of us.

The first groups of people are the PARASITES. Those are the people who firmly believe that hard work and effort mean absolutely NOTHING when it comes to success. They actually believe that NOBODY succeeds, that the people who are rich and successful just came across it like one would a fallen penny, and that it MUST be shared by EVERYONE.

You see these groups every so often. They believe that any kind of success must be instantly taxed into oblivion, and the more money people make, the more taxes they should be forced to pay. They whine about how “the rich” (which doesn’t somehow include themselves) need to pay “their fair share” (but they fail to define what “fair” is). They’re annoying, especially when they worm their way into positions of power and authority.

The second groups of people are the extreme opposites… and I REALLY get pissed off at them. They are the NAGS. They steadfastly REFUSE to accept that there is such a thing as “magic” when it comes to success. They want to finger-point at people and accuse them of just not working HARD ENOUGH. They’re just not putting ENOUGH of an effort into doing what they do.

I’m sorry folks, I know I’m going to set off a few red flags when I say this, but when I hear these nags spout off their horsecrap, I seriously have to fight the urge to do grievous bodily harm on them. There ARE people out there today that work hard, that put in sixteen or even eighteen hours a day doing what they do, that sacrifice time, money, sanity, sleep, even their own health, working fingers-to-bone and YET they are nowhere near successful. They are the people that are insulted every single time one of these NAGS open their mouths and spew their ignorance and say “you just need to work harder and sacrifice more”.

And they would be in the minority if not for the fact that they latch on to the third groups of people out there that annoy me to no end… and those are the CHARLATANS.

These are the people that sell you the so-called “foolproof” ways that you can be successful. And I’m not just talking about the pyramid schemers, or the multi-level marketers. I’m talking about the people with a product to sell all their own to supposedly help you be “successful”.

You have the televangelist with a certain-colored “prayer cloth” that if you hold while you pray, you will magically have money come your way. Apparently these people forget that Christianity tells the masses to give up all of their earthly goods now for spiritual wealth in the hereafter. It certainly makes the televangelist richer.

You have the “books” that show you how to engage in real estate deals and other so-called “loopholes” in the system. No word as to whether or not those really work, but if they did, wouldn’t you think there would be more people wealthy today? Plus don’t forget that when you’re dealing with real estate, you’re dealing with a whole legion of big companies full of people who have been licensed and trained to deal with the subject. They have connections and money on their side. What do you have? You have a book showing you the same fishing spots that they troll in on a regular basis. It’s like entering a minivan in the Daytona 500 and expecting to even FINISH, much less win.

You have all of those folks, and then you have the “experts”. The sports coach that honestly thinks that winning in football equates into winning in business. Of course the only success story to prove that is his own success story, which is making money going to other companies as a motivational speaker. You have “THE SECRET” people, who tell you that you will be successful if only you WISH for the success. And then you have the gimmick people, who believe that being successful is merely a matter of LIVING successfully, or even SLEEPING your way to success. They try to convince you that it’s so EASY to be successful in doing what you do… you just have to “follow your dreams”.

Well let’s get brutally honest here… IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

As of this coming April 1st it will be fourteen years since I started “following my dreams”. You’re reading it right now. Or you’re hearing it on ShockNet Radio. Or you’re seeing it in my comic book series. Guess how much money I have made doing all of these things over the past fourteen years? Zero.

It’s not that I’m not good what I do. There are plenty of people who have told me that I am talented, that I am gifted, that I have skills that should be worth a fortune, and yet all of that and twenty dimes will get me a cup of coffee… as long as it’s not at Starbucks.

So you tell me, oh great and powerful “experts”, why aren’t I rolling in the dough? Why are my columns getting ignored? Why do I have to pester people to listen to my radio show? Why can’t I get anyone to read my comics? I can dream all the dreams I want to; I can hope, wish, pray for success; I can write down my dreams in a letter to send to myself; I can even try to LIVE the life that I WANT to live if I were successful, and yet I am still nowhere near getting to that point.

It’s getting to be fourteen years now, and I still have to find work elsewhere just so I can pay the bills and keep a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator. Isn’t it somewhat awkward that the experts who come up with all of these unique tricks for success don’t really have a timeframe for ANY of it to pan out?

In truth, their gimmicks are really no more effective than the hypothetical “Practice Swing Method”. It’s a placebo, designed to make you feel good without actually doing anything other than wasting your time and possibly your money.

There is NO sure-bet way to be successful. Success is a combination of factors, and many of them can’t be duplicated. It is a matter of timing, a matter of connections, a matter of certain circumstances working for you, and sometimes it is a matter of other people helping you. And the reverse is also true when it comes to failure.

Not everyone can win, and that is something that the nags don’t want to outright admit to, but they DO know it to be true. Your success means that others have to fail. And the reason why the nags refuse to admit to knowing that is because they are the ones that don’t want to be the ones to LOSE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel about the nags. Sadly a number of them are objectivists, complete egomaniacs, or have a totally sociopathic view of anyone who is bellow (at the very least) middle class.

Also understand about Charlatans. I've learned in life that if you're listening to a ten minute recording about something like "interest-free marketing" and you still don't know what it is, it's probably a trap.

Maybe the lesson in all of the reason not everyone can be a "world class success" is it gives us the chance to be "world class people". What good is all the money in the world if you die alone or you're miserable? There's just somethings money and fame cannot buy (or only a cheap copy of.)