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Marketing, Strategy and Awesomeness

What was the biggest turning point in your life?

“Success..will come to us in the exact degree of the effectiveness with which we live each day.” – Earl Nightingale

I was surfing around on Quora the other day and came across this response by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, to the question “What was the biggest turning point in your life?”  His answer struck me because it is so counter to how many people believe successful people became successful.

Read Quote of Jimmy Wales’ answer to Jimmy Wales: What was the biggest turning point in Jimmy Wales’ life? on Quora

We like to attribute the success of others to one major event or lucky break because it’s easy to dismiss it and point that out as the reason they’re successful and we’re not.

But the truth is, for the most part, success doesn’t happen like that – and is more attributed to lots of smaller, deliberate decisions.   That’s impossible for us to accept because it means that we are the reason we aren’t ‘successful.’

Big Brake

A lot of people go through their lives waiting for their ‘big break.’ The one life changing moment where everything changes and their lives are instantly transformed.

These are the people who don’t do any regular vocal training but go wait in line for 10 hours to audition for American Idol.

Or buy lottery tickets.

Or sit at home and wish for a supermodel girlfriend.

This isn’t really how it works though.

People tend to get hung up on the ‘big decisions or moments’ and ignore the smaller, every day decisions that actually shape your life.

Huge, life changing pivotal moments are very rare, and often not as monumental as we think – when compared to the thousands of smaller decisions that tied in to this larger one and supported it.

We’d rather dream or aspire or wait for the one major opportunity or event to come along then make gradual, daily progress towards those goals.

It’s like how some people would rather dream about running 3 times a week than actually run one time a week and slowly improve from there.

Why this guys life is infinitely better than it was a year ago

Nathan Barry is a guy I found out about through Hacker News. He’s in his 20s, married and has a kid.

How did Nathan Barry go from nothing to an online following, 2 successful ebooks and one software product in 1 year? Not by some life changing event. Not by meeting the right person. Simply by writing 1000 words, every single day.

Those 1000 daily words have translated into countless blog posts, an online following, 2 books, promotional emails and just clearing his thoughts. [I recently picked up his Designing Web Apps course, which was amazing]

What if Nathan had sat around, waiting for some huge event, like becoming good friends with Tim Ferriss or finding the ‘perfect’ idea or getting featured on Lifehacker. I’m guessing he’d still be in the same place he was before.

Complaining how you don’t have the time to write 1,000 words a day? Nathan is married and has a kid.. if you want to find the time you can.

Life changing moments don’t change our lives, daily practice does.

There are 2 ways to create huge, positive life changes.

1. Hope for some incredible event. Wait to be chosen.

2. Create daily, consistent behaviors and actions that build on top of each other

It doesn’t have to be writing 1,000 words, you might not have the interest or really can’t make the time. Maybe it’s meditating for 5 minutes or walking 1 mile or reading 1 chapter a day.

Maybe it’s just meeting one new person a day or week, sending one email a day to someone you admire, respect, or would like to get to know.

It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as you stop hoping for some life changing event in your future to just happen and instead start making small, deliberate decisions that will help you get to where you want to go.


1 comment… add one

  • Ben,

    This is a must read for everyone on earth! So true. In fact, another word for “success” would be “return on good habits and discipline”.

    I’m into SaaS software business, where you have a “MRR” (monthly recurring revenue). That’s the end result of working daily on your software, taking every bug out of it, good client contact, improving your sales page every day, blogging for your customers consistently, … and so on for many months or years. MRR is something you build up from the ground with hard work and discipline. It’s a huge upfront effort, that will pay of later. It requires strict discipline, good habits, and focus for long time.

    This “MRR” for a SaaS product business is no different from “success” in your life. Good habits and day to day discipline and effort like working a little more every day, blogging and keep on blogging for years (even if no audience in the beginning), doing sports in a consistent way (even if it’s just 10 push ups every morning…), and so on.

    I’m a jazz player also (saxo). Do you know that Charlie Parker, considered as the best jazz saxo player ever, during a certain period in his live, practiced up to 14 hours per day for 3 years long?
    Was he born as a star? Well, for sure he got some talent. But talent is only 10% I think. He still needed that daily route, hard work, discipline and effort to reach the top.


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