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The Secret To Success

Here’s a thought:

There’s one simple secret that will make you successful at what you want to do in life. It’s not even really a secret, though, because I guarantee you already know it.

I’ve spent years reading books, taking classes, watching tutorials, listening to lectures, and more, hoping to hear the magic formula that would take me to the next level. I was convinced that someone would eventually say the correct combination of words that would give me the knowledge to be truly great at something.

I’ll save you some time: the answer is already in front of you. You can stop searching for it because I’m going to tell you what it is.

The secret to success is simple (at least in theory):

Find the thing you enjoy doing most, then do it as much as possible. After that, do it a lot more.

That’s it. It sounds simple, right? Almost too simple even. But it’s true - the way to be truly great at something is to do it as much as you possibly can.

I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but there are no shortcuts. You can’t cheat your way to being the best at what you do. You have to work at it nonstop - and then some.

I don’t think we (I’ll include myself here) like to hear advice like this. We want a magic pill or a secret elixir that will catapult us to the next level of proficiency. So we devour self-help books and TED Talks in hopes of gaining wisdom that will keep us from needing to truly work towards mastery in our given field.

The truth is: there is no Secret formula, there is no four-hour-work-week-quick-path-to-success. You’ve known the answer all along, now you just need to put in the work.

For me it’s stage time. I try to get onstage as much as possible. I do a hundred full-length 60-75 minute shows every year. Plus, I do unannounced open mics, cabaret spots, hosting gigs, and storytelling events around Chicago in between.

I love studying my favorite authors and learning about their writing process. Some people write by hand, others prefer a computer. Some write in the morning, others in the evening. It varies, depending on the individual - but all of them have this in common: they try to write every single day and reach a certain word count.

I’m also a part-time, non-elite runner. I enjoy logging miles along Lake Michigan in the summer and I’d love to be faster. When I read about elite runners I notice that the amount of miles they log is insane. They have to spend more time on their feet so they can run further and faster. Hard for someone like me - a self-employed artist - but I do the best I can to commit to runs as often as possible and gradually add mileage throughout the year.

No matter your interest, if you want to be great you need to spend as much time working on it as possible. You don’t need any more self-help books or online tutorials, just 20-30 years of hard work.


Other Thoughts:

  • The New York Times says human contact is becoming a luxury good so I guess that means I provide a luxury service now.

  • Some people asked about the typewriter in my recent photos. It’s an Olivetti Lettera 32, used by famous writers including Cormac McCarthy, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, and more. I’ll write more on it in a future post.

  • You have one chance left to see MIND READER in Chicago, then it’s off to Pittsburgh. All upcoming shows can be found here.