Will hard work alone bring you success? In my opinion, you need help & support from others along your journey to success.
The origins of success
Success is something that means different things to everyone depending on your point of view. To some, living the dream could be opening their own small café. To others, it could be running a multi-million-pound company, but we will all have our own vision of what success is, and I wouldn’t want to influence your view. I am a director at LemonTop Creative. I could be called a co-founder of one of many other titles, but these are purely academic. To me, success is when you love what you do and do what you love. Many of us spend our whole lives not doing that.
We often see other successful people as self-made but there is always an origin, there is always a story and there is always help. The origins of success are a real insight into humanising those we hold as role models and should also show how you too can do great things, just like they have. To achieve greatness though, it is worth pointing out you might need more than hard work to get there. Look back at your life to the career you do now and make a note of all the significant points good and bad. Every event is pointing you closer and closer to where you are now.
Those in business who drive their company forward on their own can often find themselves in a lonely place but, sharing a journey with others around you to give you support is much more rewarding.
Although we may feel we are in complete control of our own destiny and all that we have done is of our own making, we still need to think about the external factors. From an early age, there are many events that influence who we become. This could be learning from an engaging teacher, having parents that are in a similar career path, professionals in a field, an athlete, or friends that like the same things we do. There are many more of these factors that come into play as we grow, that bend and shape us into the person we have become. For example, if you want to get into finance, it is good to have parents who are accountants or business investors. Maybe you’re the person who was around at the right time to exploit new technology. Maybe you have taken advantage of the internet, its processing power and having access to a world of knowledge on the web.
Being there at the right time is essential, especially when you consider how small a window of opportunity this is. Our lives are complex and our needs are different. The need to earn money could easily cloud our judgement at the beginning of our careers when an opportunity arises. Doing something and doing something at the right time are significantly different. This is all about being conscious of the bend coming up and thinking ahead of the curve. This is a balancing act between following a path or creating your own path and leaving a trail but doing something better to greater success.
As a child, I would always watch TV adverts rather than TV programmes and for the last 27 years, I have worked in a creative design agency. Around 1984 computer science was just making its way into my school, too late for me. At this time, I’d already started programming on ZX Spectrums, Oric 1, Oric Atmos and later moving onto Commodore 64s and Amigas. Looking back at these times it is obvious that my mind was already being moulded to what I do now. However, the people around me and the influences and opportunities weren’t there for me, even after passing my computer science exams with flying colours. I didn’t hang out with other programmers or have friends who could program. Career guidance didn’t really exist for those in Middlesbrough back then. How different a career path would have been if only a college lecturer or others in the computer science course were of a similar mind and could spot a programmer at an early stage.
In today’s world, everywhere you look there are TV programmes, celebrities, business leaders, and others that keep telling us how to be successful, but one person’s success isn’t always transferable. Back in the ‘80s those people just didn’t exist for the masses or for me. I needed money so started work, installing computer networks. This changed my outlook on the world. As a dreamer and loving computers, it was only a matter of time before my next career change and with the emergence of Apple Macs. The world was changing so much. Today, if you want to buy an Apple Mac, you can order it online, visit an Apple store or use the many other routes to buying the kit you want. In the very early days, there were only Apple Dealers where you could buy Apple Macs until the emergence of the grey importers. The North East, and in particular Middlesbrough, had two Apple Mac grey importers and I started working for one of them providing Apple Mac support. This gave me the opportunity to use the very first versions of Quark, Aldus Freehand, and Adobe Type Manager, again changing my career path once more.
Opportunities don’t always come looking for you or seem obvious to you at the time but like in my previous article on how to thin-slice, it’s that feeling in your gut that says, do it. We may have all heard the story of Chris Hoy getting a BMX and how this was the start of his passion for cycling. Back then, without having the right support structure and encouragement he could have been like the rest of us, who didn’t have a BMX back then. This support and opportunities around him led him to be probably Team GB’s greatest Olympian. You could make the point that if it wasn’t cycling, Chris Hoy would have been successful at something else, but we will never know. You can only ever be in the moment, be conscious of what is going on around you and absorb as much information as you can. If you don’t, you’ll never know what you miss without even noticing the opportunity.
Standing on the shoulder giants
There are those that say they innovate and there are those who truly innovate. If you’d have asked the public in Henry Ford’s time about transportation it would have involved more horses pulling a carriage. Without his ambition to create an automobile for the masses would we really have cars as we have now. Many companies and careers have been made due to the invention of the automobile but like many, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the work they’ve done.
Standing on the shoulders of giants isn’t a bad thing. In fact, most of us in business now are only doing what others did before us.
Just because you think you have a great idea and everyone around believes in it doesn’t necessarily make it a success. You only have to watch the TV programme Dragon’s Den to see evidence of this where someone is passionate about their business only to have the Dragon’s decline any investment. Your employees and your family aren’t going to be objective enough. Criticism isn’t bad, it is just a reality check for your journey. Use this feedback to help you stay focused and fine-tune your journey. If you truly believe in what you are doing then don’t let anyone stop you, use it to shortcut your journey to success.
More than just hard work
I have always believed that if I wanted to, I could do whatever I want and refuse to believe that divine power has blessed others and not me with a talent or gift. We can hold on to the magic that this really happens but, it doesn’t. You are the product of what happens around you. If you do happen to have the right genetics that means you can have an injury-free sporting career, or you are able to look at a picture for a fraction of a second and be able to draw it perfectly, are out of our control but of significance and advantage.
Success is more than just hard work and dedication. It is essential that those around you offer encouragement, support you in your dream, and help you seize the opportunity, even if they have to give you the funds to make it happen. Just doing a job or having a career for money isn’t enough to have real success.
Remember, you can’t do it alone
It doesn’t matter what anyone says, you can be a success, build a business, and make a difference in the world. What you do need is others around to believe in you. If you have a dream of running in the Olympics, what you need is others is to give you the opportunity to train, have access to the best care, the best facilities, believe in you and have the support to take away all the other stresses of everyday life. If you set up in business, it’s the people behind you that make you and your business a success. In return, you need to create opportunities for them to shine.
You also need outsiders to provide opportunities too and there are so many stories where businesses have grown significantly in symbiotic relationships with others. These opportunities don’t come along every day and many fall by the curbside. What you need to do is trust your gut instinct and thin slice.
The road to success has many factors of influence so look at those around you and ask yourself if everyone is committed to your cause, are others aware of what you do and never be afraid of taking a risk.