Success Is the Result Of…
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
By Gonzalo Cordova
What word(s) did you use complete the title of this article? One of my favorite quotes is “success is the result of a lot of hard work”. I first saw this posted on the wall in the office of one of my college professors, Dr. Hodgson. It turns out this quote encompasses more wisdom than I could have ever suspected.
Work – Trying Is Not Enough
In Physics, we learn that work is defined as the application of force to produce
movement. Notice that both force AND movement need to take place for work to
exist. This applies perfectly to our careers because we are constantly applying
effort(s) in order to produce results. However, trying alone does not lead to
successful careers. You can’t just show up (force). Without results (movement), you
won’t have success in your career (work). Tangible results are needed to validate the
efforts we make and serve as the foundation of any successful career.
Hard – Quality of Work
One cannot become faster by running at the same speed all the time. This is why to
get faster, a runner practices speed workouts independently of the distance he or
she is training for. The same happens at work. Success depends on our ability to
devote a specific amount of time at a high level of focus or concentration in order to
achieve a particular result. This is the “optimal experience” discussed by Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Flow. Also, it is not realistic to think that we can work
at a level of high intensity all the time. Thus, it is important to choose the right
moment and make our focused work count toward the results that matter the
A Lot – Quantity of Work
Everyone is naturally gifted to do something better than others in sports, school,
work, etc. However, no matter how gifted you are at something, your gift needs to
be discovered, refined, and even tested to achieve its full potential. This process
creates the muscle memory needed to know and control the gift, even under
pressure. Anders Ericsson, in his book Peak, documented that professional
musicians and chess players need years of deliberate practice to achieve mastery.
Quantity of quality work matters, even for the gifted.
Success – No guarantees
I erroneously thought that quantity and quality of work, backed by tangible results,
would automatically deliver a successful career. I have found that there is more to
it. Doing our part does not guarantee success. There are other factors, many
outside of our control, that influence career success such as timing, networking,
and politics, to name a few. However, when these other factors do favor us, success
will take place if we have done our part to claim it.
To conclude, let me encourage you to use the thoughts above to pursue success in your career with renewed passion. Focus intensively when it matters, give your absolute best, and deliver results. Repeat this process many times, but do not neglect rest. When the environment is right, success will knock on your door, and you will be ready to answer its call.