The Two Most Critical Skills You Need To Succeed

Whether you want to be able make French macarons or own the New York Jets, you need to work for it. There is definitely more effort involved in acquiring the Jets than in baking some French pastries — for the record, I have yet to succeed in making French macarons. But to succeed in either of these, you need two qualities that are becoming increasingly rare nowadays. They are so simple yet underestimated by most. These two skills helped build everything you see around you. They are the foundation of all accomplishments, large and small. If you want to achieve anything of significance you need them in your arsenal.

You need Patience and Perseverance

People want everything yesterday without effort. It must be quick and easy. Patience and perseverance are not desirable or sexy. They don’t sell. Those who do something expecting quick results always quit soon after. Those chasing the magic formula that will lead them to success effortlessly will search low and high but never get past the starting point. What gives you results are deliberate actions that build on tiny increments over a long period of time. The progress is slow but steady. This is why most quit before they had the chance to even truly get started. They don’t have the patience to see it through. They prefer to blame their lack of talent or the neighbor’s dog.

Until you do something long enough to become good, you will suck. Keep at it. Don’t quit.

I don’t consider myself a great software developer but I have successfully made it into a career for over then years now. I’m constantly learning and seeking to improve myself. You can’t read a few books and become an expert. It took me years to learn my craft. It wasn’t always easy or fun. But over time, I developed an invaluable skill that serves me well in both my personal and professional life.

It takes a long time before you start noticing the results of your efforts. They will come. This is why those who leverage these critical skills often make it far. They understand that patience and perseverance will make them rise above the crowd. They weren’t lucky — winning the lottery is being lucky — nor were they simply at the right place at the right time. Their efforts were rewarded.

When I had my first computer in 1999, I was a complete neophyte. It came with one of those early 3D graphics accelerators for games. I was so bad with computers it took me a year to realize the games didn’t look good because the accelerator wasn’t even wired properly. Over two to three years I managed to learn enough to get a job out of it. One day, I visited a store looking to buy a new computer. My interest and passion for computers and hardware paid off. After discussing with the manager for a long while, I came out of the store with a job in addition to a computer.

Play the patience game and work hard. Enjoy the process, long for it. Reap the benefits.

Playing the patience game alone is not enough. You can’t simply wait for things to happen. You must add some elbow grease to the mix. That’s where perseverance comes into play. Instant gratification is so ingrained in our society that learning to be patient and persevere is hard, damn hard. If it was easy, everybody would be successful. That’s the beauty of it. When you harness these skills often enough that they become second nature, you gain the ability to achieve anything you want. You’ll become part of an exclusive club that everyone wants to join but few know how. There is one important aspect to consider if you want patience and perseverance to pay off — you must be deliberate in what you do.

Make sure that every action you make serves a purpose. You can’t do something over and over expecting improvement if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. With each action, you must attempt to measure what will make you improve. Each action should help you confirm whether you are on the right path or not. If you don’t do this, it will be like you’re in a canoe paddling frantically only from one side and wonder why you’re spinning around instead of moving forward. Being aware of what you’re doing — or at least having an idea of where you’re going — will help you progress.

When I lost weight in 2013, I didn’t run on the treadmill hoping to lose weight. My process was deliberate. In six months, I lost 50 pounds. I suck at playing guitar. I’m not blaming the guitar or my lack of natural talent. I simply didn’t practice. Instead, I would cook and work out. I won’t be able to play any Joe Satriani songs any time soon, but I’m sure I’ll nail those French macarons soon!

Now, do me a favor. Pick something you’ve been wanting to do for the longest time. Allow yourself to suck at it for as long as it takes for you to become good. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just pick something and do it. Take it one tiny step at a time. Eventually, each tiny step taken will lead to noticeable progress. Persevere and be patient. No need to thank me.