Work, rest, play, work some more, and reap the reward.
That is the mindset that a lot of people who go into life hoping to achieve success adopt. And to be honest it is a pretty decent one. For it for many people. But what type of people?
The people who do well in life, or those who settle for average, and what is acceptable.
Life after all is a story of balance. It is about doing things that are productive, with the hope of attaining something of meaning and value.
Since we cannot work all the time, it is natural that people come to expect rewards for their work. The unwritten principle that actions should translate into results is something humans come to internalize.
The question is this: Does it always work? And when it does, how well?
And what’s to be done, if it doesn’t, that is if doing what you have been doing until now (i.e. following the process) isn’t getting you what you want?
This post seeks to answer this question, at the same time going further in laying out some of the principles a man ought to follow as they are working towards achieving their goals when the outcomes they seek are not forthcoming.
When Hard Work Isn’t Enough
Read through any self-help literature, and listen to podcasts on success and you are bound to encounter points extolling the importance of hard work.
The importance of doing the right thing consistently and never stopping no matter how hard it gets in the way to achieving your goals. Solid advice one that we have extolled ourselves.
The pertinent question here is: what can be more important than hard work? For when it comes to reaching your goals and becoming a better version of yourself getting down to it, is the way forward. Even if you happened to be the most gifted person in the world.
If this point needs any more emphasis, consider the words of the famed writer Stephen King who observed: ‘Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work'.
With that part settled, the question remains what about all those hard-working people who DON’T succeed in life?
And let’s be real there are a lot of hard-working people out there who are putting their blood, sweat, and tears into achieving their goals, but not seeing the kind of success they are hoping to achieve. This is a serious problem. One that was a characteristic of generations of the past.
If you are from coal country or in parts of the Western world where fossil-based industries once held sway, you must be aware of the once great energy centers. Where heavy industries that extracted, purified, and utilized coal and fossil-related energy sources were the lifeblood of local and indeed national economies. And the men who worked on them worked hard.
Like really hard!
For it was no longer just a question of putting in long hours, but every hour that was spent inside a coal mine, or refinery was a tough, extracting experience: Heavy lifting in hot, humid, and generally unpleasant conditions that at times could potentially prove to be a threat to life.
In addition to the long hours, and tough conditions, a lot of the men who worked in these environments often were stationed a long distance away from their hometowns and families. So the comfort of a relatively straightforward 9 – 5 job, where you can check out at the end of the day, and go back to the comfort of your own home is not a given for men who worked in such industries.
I am sure the reader can think of other examples that elucidate the nature of ‘hard’ work. The point is working hard, that is doing something difficult as a process does not always correspond to success in life.
And this point is made not as a way to dunk on the hard-working industrial workers who are in many ways the lifeblood of any modern economy. But the point remains, for those who are seeking success in life, just putting in the long hours in whatever job is not going to get you where you need to be.
Which for a lot of men comes down to financial independence, success with women, and having a fit physique.
And here we are talking about a lot of young men who are coming up through the ranks in the digital world, on the back of challenges that stem from the post-Great recession economy, and now in the high-inflationary post-Covid world, who are looking for leadership on how to rise above them.
So what is the formula for success besides the centrality of handwork? The common answer, one that has been featured in self-help and personal development literature over the last decade or so has been the importance of working smart.
This is a specific subject, that whilst pertinent to this debate is not directly relevant at the moment. So we will say this here: the idea of working smart pertains to the principle of optimization of your extant capabilities and to that of harnessing new sources of income, developing support networks, adopting effective management, etc.
These are key principles for any success manual. And in many ways, they are the key ingredients that help hard-working men on their path toward success.
But long before we get to the hard work – smart work debate, there is a key principle that is absolutely essential if one is going to have any chance at success.
And that is the principle of perseverance.
Arguably the most important principle of life is to persevere. Besides success, if one is not serious about getting through life with one’s mind and body intact, he/she will have to persevere. Daily. Constantly.
But what does it mean to persevere?
To understand its nature one must start by looking at what perseverance leads to. To persevere with something, often in the face of some internal or external obstacle, or limitation is to become something better or stronger as a result.
So you no longer view the nature of hardship (which is not the same as hard work) as a problem or trial that needs to be endured, but rather as one that can and ideally should be embraced. And by doing so, you become something better. Stronger.
Here we look to the wisdom of the Stoics, where Seneca observes: ‘Constant misfortune brings this one blessing: to whom it always assails, it eventually fortifies’.
In sum what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But the principle of perseverance goes further than that.
It is to try, work and endure even when the rewards are not forthcoming. Heck even if the promised outcomes are not even on the horizon. It is about sticking to the task, whilst keeping your gaze firmly set on the goal. But critically, is also not about being driven by the end reward that you stand to gain, but recognizing the value that lies in the process that you are following to get to your desired destination.
OK. This is a tough point to digest. Especially if you are someone who has been working for a long time on a certain project, with little or no rewards, or worse no real change or improvements in other areas of life your life.
This is important. Caz a lot of times, when someone is working on something important: whether it is in building a business, expanding their social network, or improving their skills and range of experience with the opposite sex, there is some level of feedback to work with. That no matter how little, gives some indication that things are moving in the right direction or not.
But what happens when no such thing is forthcoming? What happens that no matter how much effort you put into your plans very little seems to be happening? What happens if it all seems like f***ing waste of time!? Such as:
- When your YouTube channel is not getting sufficient (or any) growth in terms of subscribers.
- That no matter how many girls you approach you get either a straight rejection (I am not interested) or an indirect one (high flake rate).
- That all those hours at the gym and the new diet regimen is producing no results in terms of muscle growth.
- That no matter what kind of Call to Action you put out not a single person responds!
Well, here’s a little secret: Almost everyone person has been there.
‘Almost’ is an important word, as we do have some exceptional geniuses in our midst, and others who strike gold with their first or first few strikes.
But we are not talking about them.
We are talking about the average guy who has a lot of potential but is yet to see or experience the kind of results that he wants. So how does he (or you) achieve the success one seeks?
We have already touched on the importance of perseverance. But what happens next? How does one feed off the efforts that he is putting into his business, relationships or in building a physique, whilst no results are yet forthcoming, keep persevering in this area AND is able to see improvements in other areas of life?
Enter growth through action.
The Reward Growth in Action
Nothing good happens overnight. Or at least nothing that is significant in the long run.
When it comes to the relationship between work and reward, especially in relation to goals where the results are not meant to be immediate, it is easy to lose oneself in a sense of expectation without reward, and problematically to then to hinge one’s state of mind on whatever reward that may or may not be forthcoming.
This is a dangerous place to be. Humans are sensitive creatures. And if we attune ourselves to a reward framework where no rewards are forthcoming (unless you get fortunate, or get really good really quick) then this could undermine your commitment to the job at hand.
With every setback and/or the lack of positive feedback you will start to lose momentum. Your initiative will weaken, and in time you will lose the motivation to put in the hours.
If this keeps up further, you will not only fail at what you set out to accomplish, but the negativity that stems from this area will start to affect other areas of your life.
This is terrible. But not uncommon. And for some of the readers, this might be a familiar experience. You keep trying but the output is just not there. And at some point, you just throw in the towel.
So what do we do?
The answer is to flip the script. In practice, this means viewing the process that you undertake to achieve whatever goal, as a process of ongoing reward.
To elaborate: this is where you no longer tether your expectations to an input-output relationship corresponding to work and reward. But rather come to see the actions that you take in relation to what you seek to accomplish as an unfolding chain of small victories.
This new paradigm of work and reward frees you from the conventional approach that many in the self-help, self-made industry tend to follow. This is not a criticism, for the most part, it happens instinctively. Since we are used to such a system.
However, in the absence of such rewards, it can really wreck the motivation of a person who is trying to build something for himself.
To understand this thought process at work, let’s look at a relatable example.
The Mindset of Growth
Take the example of a guy who is trying to get better with girls. Let’s call him Freddy.
Freddy is an incel (in case you don’t know what that means, it is a guy who is trying to get laid but is unable to find a girl who is down for it), who is trying to make some progress with the opposite sex. To make this happen, he has been going out three times a week.
So far his approach to ‘approaching’ is to walk up to girls and say hi, ask some general questions about who she is, and what she does, and then maybe go for a number.
This strategy hasn’t worked for a number of reasons. First, he waits too long before approaching the girl in question, which tends to creep her out. And when he does, which does not always happen, his approach is too timid.
And by the time he starts asking the girl questions about what she does, and what her interests are, she has either excused herself or is simply waiting for him to finish so she can give a firm ‘No, I’m not interested’.
And did we mention Freddy is a bit on the heavier side, is used to wearing clothes on the baggier side, and talks a bit too much about himself?
So, when it comes to such a specimen, the problem is not whether he is approaching the right girl or the right number of girls per week. The problem at one level lies with his approach, but it goes deeper. Specifically, the kind of image that he is presenting of himself.
So the right course of action for Freddy would be to start working on himself, and keep improving whilst approaching girls; whilst, and this is an important point, not measure success based on whether he is getting the girl’s number, date (pulling, for now, is out of the question), but on how well he is able to present himself.
And this happens in conjunction with the improvements he is making to his diet, attire, vocality, etc. Note none of these changes can happen overnight. And for some to change even one thing can be immensely challenging.
But by staying focused, and adopting the mindset of growth through action, a mindset that operates independently of outcomes, Freddy is able to see improvements. First in other, more manageable areas of his life, but in time in the business end as well.
Since success with women is often a function of a guy’s status. And status comes from many sources, but critically it is about how a guy is able to carry himself socially and the kind of value he can create economically and produce in social relationships.
And these aspects of life are predicated on a number of variables. Not just money and looks. So by working on each of them, whilst focusing on the main goal of getting better with girls, in time he will start to see improvements.
Whilst he will not be landing that 9 or 10 anytime soon, he will see improvements to the quality of the interactions with potential meet-ups and even well, you know, coming through. But to get to that stage, he will need to measure the progress in other, but related areas of life. His fitness, style, communication, etc.
The question is: How badly does he want it?
Thinking via the Growth Mindset
To succeed in life you need help. This is a question of how humans are built. From the time we were born we had someone take care of us. Without that external aid, we would not have lasted.
As we grow older, we tend to need less help, but the need for external aid does not end.
In some ways it grows more important, as we gain control of the more basic aspects of life, we require greater support in managing the more technical, process-driven tasks of life. (Think of your first maths class).
And this process of learning through reliance, and guidance does not stop. And with good reason. We learn constantly. That is how our brains are built.
And success in life is a result of constant learning. And overcoming the obstacles in life to attain success is a function of how much you know and what you are willing to do. But success is not just about working hard or being smart. It is about growing through the process.
To grow as a person and in your professional life is best managed with help. Dedicated, experienced result-oriented help. This is what you get with us.
From your relationships, financial goals and fitness expectations we have things covered.