‘Buy now, Pay later’. That’s the Afterpay promise. For those not in the know, this is that latest version of what used to be called “living on the never never”
. Apart from being an insidious siren song sure to lure the unwary into debt, it’s a great example of the modern penchant for instant gratification.
It’s the same with business. We’re all in the search for ‘overnight success’ (of which, sadly, Afterpay is a good example, with a multi-billion dollar valuation). We’re impatient. Easily distracted by the promises of ‘hacks’, smart tech and the ‘next big thing’ that will accelerate our success.
Social fans the flames
Whilst this is nothing new, our sense of impatience and search for the short-cut is amplified by social media. Who doesn’t compare their personal and professional success with the finest online and feel themselves coming up short? To get ahead, we need to think smarter, faster, bigger?
Or do we?
Back to basics
I think we’ve lost the plot. In our rush to win, win big and win quick, we’ve skipped the basics. And the basics, it turns out, are actually the keys to really winning – in both work and life. Here’s what five leading thinkers have to say.
James Kerr – LEGACY: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life
“Sweep the sheds”
I have too many Kiwi rugby mates who gloat as only they can, but the secret to the New Zealand All Black rugby teams extraordinary success (arguably unrivalled in any other sport at any time) is founded in humility and hard work.
At the end of each test match, the team prides itself on cleaning up the dressing rooms - and it’s the most senior players who do the most work.
Jordan Peterson – 12 RULES FOR LIFE: An antidote to chaos
In this extraordinary book, psychology professor and acclaimed thinker Peterson explains that most of us set ourselves up for failure. We aspire to achieve too much, too quickly. This sounds counter-intuitive – surely fortune favours the brave? Problem is, if we aim too high and miss, we get discouraged. Pretty soon we stop striving for anything.
Better to aim low. Encouraged by the simple act of achieving something (however small) we can do the next thing. And so it goes on. A sense of progression is one of the key drivers to human motivation (think gamification).
So “Aim low, (but aim up!)”
Admiral William H McRaven – MAKE YOUR BED
In a similar vein, US Navy Seal Commander McRaven surprises. He looks like a man who could kill with a stare, eats live babies and shits bullets. Yet he says that “if you want to change the world, start by making your bed”
. I reckon his is as good a philosophy for success as you’ll find anywhere.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
Steven Pressfield – DO THE WORK
“Do the work!”
Pressfield’s brilliant (and brilliantly short) book, debunks the myths of creativity. Too many of us sell ourselves short by believing that creativity is a gift for the few and – like perfect teeth – something we were not blessed with. Instead he lays out a plan. Creativity is based not in angels and muses, but in hard graft, sweat and determination.
Not easy, for sure, but at least attainable for all of us.
Seth Godin – WHAT TO DO WHEN IT’S YOUR TURN (and it’s always your turn)
Just in case you thought the secret to building Jerusalem yesterday was all about humility, diligence and self-discipline, I include Seth Godin’s thoughts about our need to step out, take risks and embrace failure.
“This is a book about opportunity. The opportunity to take your turn and make a difference. The opportunity to contribute, to lead and to live your life fully.
The thing is, there’s no easy way to do this. No simple way to quiet the noise in your head, no proven method to earn the respect and applause of your family and friends, no guaranteed approach that’s going to insulate you from heartache.
This journey might not work.
It might not be fun.
I hope you’ll do it anyway.
Five great thinkers, five great angles on what it takes to succeed. All, brilliantly simple. All achievable for anyone with the vision, heart, determination and resilience to have a crack.
A final quote.
Mark Hodgson – TIME TO SHINE: Adapting who you are and what you know to succeed in the ideas economy
“Don’t die wondering”