Is There A Blueprint To Success?

success formula
4 min read

No. At least, I haven’t found it yet. And I guess the same goes for you. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. These days, I’m seeing more and more people who pretend they have the “blueprint to success.”

And that they can teach others how to become successful writers, artists, investors, entrepreneurs, and so forth. It’s annoying.

The stories are always something like this: “Look at how many views I got! And I made X dollars!” And then, they say, “Get my course on making money online!” What?! You want to show me how to make money? 

Why are these people not just doing it themselves if it works so well? That’s what we think when we see those messages. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach outcomes.

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve been blogging since 2015. I started because I wanted to share my ideas and make myself useful. I didn’t become a blogger to make money.

I meet a lot of people who want to get into blogging, video creation, coaching, or any other online thing because they think it pays well. They see people online making money by posting vacation pictures on Instagram.

That’s not a good reason to pursue a certain career. This is not a new phenomenon. I was recently speaking to a friend who’s been investing since the 80s. He mentioned that day trading was going through a revolution at the time.

Everyone said, “Look at those folks on Wall Street. They are making easy money. I need to do that too.”

In 2019, you can replace “Wall Street” with Instagram, YouTube, Medium, etc. The problem with this way of thinking is that it’s not sustainable. If you pursue a career because you simply want to earn a few bucks, you’ll probably quit when it gets hard. And no matter how simple it may seem from the outside, the people who are earning a lot, also work a lot.

That’s why if you pursue a career because of intrinsic reasons, you’ll be more likely to push through. My friend didn’t pursue day trading in the 80s. Instead, he got into real estate investing, and still is. His mission is to provide affordable places to live for students and young professionals. He’s not in it for the money alone.

Ambition, luck, persistence = the best “blueprint to success”

You know why successful writers don’t teach how to become successful? Because it can’t be taught. There are no “10 steps to success on Platform X.”

What makes someone successful? We can investigate it and make assumptions. But we can’t know anything for sure. That’s why I don’t believe in blueprints that lead to success. Instead, I believe that these three things play a significant role in any type of success:

  1. Ambition—You have to be a little bit crazy to think people will actually listen to what you have to say. 
  2. Luck—Even though people don’t like to admit this, you also need some luck; especially in the beginning. I was lucky to find out about Medium (now the biggest blogging platform in the world) in 2015. A few of my early articles went viral, and that helped me to reach a lot of people.
  3. Persistence—If you keep going, are good what you do, and keep improving your craft, you will reach your goals somehow. Remember to focus on what you’re good at. Being persistent without any results is ignorance.

None of the above guarantees success. But if there’s anything you could do to improve your chances to become successful at what you do, it’s to improve your productivity and focus.

It all comes down to math. Take blogging. When you publish more articles, there are more opportunities to strike the right chord. All it takes is one article that goes viral. That can launch your career.

It’s the same with investing. When you make more investments, you’ll have more chances to make a successful one. The same applies to your career. Let’s say you’re stuck at the company you work for and your outlook is bleak.

If you decide to stay and put your head down, your chances of career success are bad. But if you decide to look for another job, you might just end up with a company that’s a perfect match with your strengths and goals. 

Don’t focus on what others do

You know what the worst types of articles about success are? The ones that flaunt how much money the author made on a certain platform. Or how many views they got. And then there are the people who talk about how they got X followers in X months. I know it can be very tempting to read those people. But it’s a waste of your time.

There are even people who are teaching the “blueprint to success” full-time. It makes you question why those people are here in the first place.

I’m glad Medium doesn’t show view counts on articles. Sure, you can see claps but you can’t see how many views an article gets or how many total views a writer has. I think those kinds of stats are very discouraging. Just look at YouTube, which is only focused on views. It’s a depressing place for creators. 

There is always someone who gets more views. So why focus on what other people do? After all, that’s what a “blueprint to success” implies. It means that you’re copying someone else’s path.

Instead, focus on your own writing and what your audience thinks. I wish I could tell you, “Do x, y and z to reach more readers.” The reality is that the internet is a fickle place.

Today, people might read my articles on my site and on Medium. Tomorrow, everybody might move on to something else. A lot can change.

But one thing never will: My drive to help people with my articles. 

Don’t look at stupid metrics. That doesn’t say anything. Look at how many people you’ve helped, inspired, or entertained. That’s what matters.

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