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Success isn't born. It is grown.


Are people born successful? The scientific answer is unequivocally NO. People may be born into success as the result of the past success of their families, but individuals themselves are not born successful. The simple answer is, success is a matter of habit, repetition, and putting in WORK. It really is that simple.


We'd like to introduce you to a book that might change your perception on how success is acquired. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle covers a bit of science behind how success is developed, focusing on the subject of myelin, as well as a number of real world examples of people and institutions where good habits have been utilized to develop great success. We hope this will provide you with encouragement to achieve the things you desire, as they are completely within your grasp if you understand and employ just a few basic principles.



So if we're not born successful, how do we acquire it? The simple explanation is we need to develop good habits over a long enough period of time, and we need to be persistent about it. The scientific explanation has to do with the subject of myelin. Myelin is a substance that coats the neurons in your brain. You know the phrase "muscle memory?" It's actually more correctly stated as "neural memory." In short, when performing repetitions of something, the neurons associated with firing the signals to perform that action are coated with additional layers of myelin. In essence this means that, through repetition, your neurons are effectively becoming super conductors that are more and more efficient at performing that task. How amazing is that! There is obviously more to the story, but that is the simple science behind how anyone becomes successful at what they do.


So if it's not just hard work, then what is it?  There's a saying, "You can work hard, or you can work smart."  Working hard alone is not a guarantee of success, as it takes personal insight and self adjustment to make the changes necessary to build that success.  We'll break it down for you in four simple principles:


1.   Pay Attention To Detail

It's the little things. Successful people often pay great attention to detail.  If you don't focus on and master those little things, ultimately you won't be building as strong of a foundation to build skill and success from, making it much harder on yourself in the end. Maybe you're an artist and you have particular difficulty with drawing certain shapes or items. Maybe you're a programmer and have particular difficulty with certain types of code. Regardless of your profession, there will always be those "things" that seem a bit elusive. Successful people don't ignore those things, they employ the next few principles to learn to excel at them.


2.   Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Whatever work you find yourself doing regularly, do it to the best of your ability. With certain things, maybe this means you have to start off slower and more focused to do it as well as possible, but that's fine.  Also, don't avoid the things you dislike. If they're necessary, you need to do them, and you may even need to focus on them more, to improve your weaknesses. Successful people tend to focus on their weaknesses and work on them until they are strong in as many areas as possible.


3.   Repetition Builds Neural Memory

There is a lot of science and analogies about this principle. You've probably heard some of them, like the classic "10 years or 10,000 hours." In effect, if you do something long enough and frequently enough, you are going to have some degree of success with it. Don't let those numbers overwhelm you, instead focus on that thing or those few things you want to excel at, and do them in repetition just a little bit EVERY day. Consistency is key. Everyone has a few minutes or an hour per day they can dedicate to this. A little bit every day.


4.   Neural Memory Builds Subconscious Competence

YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. Do I have your attention? Guess what? That's what winners do. They fail. They just fail so much and so persistently that it eventually leads to success. Learn to love failure, as it's a great learning experience if you use it properly. You push yourself to excel, you fail, you pick back up and you attack the problem again. Eventually you excel. That's how it works.  The science behind myelin provides a good degree of scientific basis to back that up. On PubMed, there are over 42,000 papers and studies related to the substance.


The most important principle here is learning to be truly honest with yourself about where you need improvement. Do that, follow steps 1 through 4 above, and you will be significantly ahead of the curve.  Michael Jordan didn't become the greatest basketball player of all time by being "born with it." He achieved it by putting in the work harder and longer than anyone else, while also shoring up as many weaknesses as he could.

Taking on the Struggle


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The last component is self-sacrifice.  In short, doing the things that others are not willing to do.  Going to the extremes others won't.  Putting in more work than others will.  What do you do with your free time?  How often do you hang out with your friends?  How much of your life do you spend on social media?  While you're doing those things, there's someone else busy.  Putting.  In.  Work.  While you're spending hours per day on Facebook, they're spending hours putting in reps with that which they want to excel at.  While you're hanging out with your friends every other night, they're at home developing strategies and long term plans to grow their business.


Don't misunderstand us.  Sometimes you need to take a break, need to just have some fun and get away from it all.  There's nothing wrong with that.  The important principle to consider here, is whether you can devote a bit more time to developing YOURSELF, as opposed to devoting it so heavily to some of those other things.  Time to go put in some WORK.


Last Updated: November 24, 2015
About the author

    Travis Brown

    Travis is a digital marketer and strategist with Jobs2Careers. He's been in and around the tech industry for many years, and has also been a small business owner, web developer, and even a firearms instructor. When he's not at work, you can usually find him knee-deep, working on sports cars, building websites, at the shooting range, or trolling people online.