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“If something is difficult for you to accomplish, do not then think it impossible for any human being; rather, if it is humanly possible and corresponds to human nature, know that it is attainable by you as well.”
— Marcus Aurelius
What is the key to success? Why are some people able to achieve what they want while others languish? Today we’re going to talk about how Stoicism can help you to develop the skills it takes to reach your goals, and live your best life.
When I first started this podcast, it was simply a way for me to record my thoughts about Stoicism and share what I learned with others. I had wanted to start a podcast and had tried a few ideas, but never felt like anything worked, or was up to the standard I felt it should be. So, I made a promise to myself that I would just put it out, even if it sucked. For 137 days, I did an episode every day. Sometimes I would write down my ideas, go drop my kids off at school, then record an episode in my car while waiting for traffic to clear up before heading into work. Some were good, some were not so good, but it didn’t matter. I put them out anyway, remembering my promise to myself that I would put it out even if it sucked. The key was to create something, and get a little better each time.
When I switched to doing it on a weekly basis, I still found it challenging. Sometimes I would stress out about whether or not it was good enough, but I still made myself put it out. I finally reached a point where I was stressing out over the quality. I was a bit burned out and still deeply insecure, and convinced myself that I really didn’t want to do it anymore. So I quit, using my desire to focus on music as an excuse.
Last summer, I was curious to see how many downloads my podcast had. I was shocked when I saw that even after a year of no new episodes, I had almost 250,000 downloads. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what I had created had still been connecting with people in my absence. I thought about restarting the podcast, but found that nagging insecurity made it difficult to sit down and create episodes. Even with the numbers on my side, it still took several more months of grappling with the fear of not being good enough to actually sit down and record more episodes.
Since the beginning of this year, I have put out some of the best episodes I think I’ve ever created. I feel like my skills in writing, recording, and editing have improved substantially. I have seen the number of listener grow exponentially. Most importantly, I’ve had scores of people contact me to let me know how much the podcast has helped them deal with some challenging aspect of their lives, and in some cases helped them make life altering changes.
Through all of this, I’ve learned a few key secrets to how to be successful at anything, and I’d like to share those with you.
Keys to Success
Most of us want to be successful in life. We want to be masters at what we do. Being at the top of our game is something most of us strive for. But so much of what we find on the internet is about how to make whole bunch of money with very little work. We’re sold easy promises of how to get rich quick. I know that I’ve found them tempting, only feel like the promises and ideas that they were peddling just didn’t square with my ethics, or sounded too good to be true.
The secret to being successful is really kind of boring, but it is often elusive because we get caught up in trying to find the shortcut, the sexy tactic, or the secret no one else knows about. It can be summed up in single quote:
“How do you move forward? One step at a time. How do you lose weight? One kilo at a time. How do you write a book? One page at a time. How do you build a relationship? One day at a time. In a world obsessed with speed, never forget things of real worth and value take time.”
You don’t have to be incredibly smart. You don’t have to be clever. You don’t even have to be naturally talented. What you do have to be is consistent. If you can make even just 1% progress every day, you will succeed at anything that you mind and energy towards. Consistency is key.
This last week I attended an online workshop about how to make your podcast more successful. There was a panel of some of the most successful podcasts on the internet. I found it interesting and informative from the advice that they had to give, but I also found it just as interesting to read the questions that were asked from the audience. One question that came up several times was what is the fastest way to get more listeners? Many of the people asking the question has just recently put out a few episodes and seemed impatient because they didn’t have hundreds or thousands of listeners. Over and over the panelists would answer with things like keep putting out more episodes, keep improving your craft, keep engaging with your audience.
Things Get In The Way
The hardest part about being consistent, is that things get in the way. There are so many distractions, and not all of them are bad. We have relationships, and families, and jobs. These are important thing, and things that we need to survive. They are certainly worthy of our time and energy. But there are so many less important things that we waste our time and energy on that keep us from achieving our dreams.
The Stoics spell out some key skills that can help free up time and energy to accomplish our goals. The most important principle of Stoicism is to identify and act on the things we can control, and let go of the things we can’t. The most important things that you have control over is your time, and your focus. When you control these two things, you are able to be consistent with any task you take on, and become a master at what you do.
Whatever it is that you want to be successful at, you take time to practice. You read books and take courses. You seek out a mentor to help you get improve and point out your weaknesses. We limit the distractions of other things in our lives that don’t help us achieve our goals. We spend less time passively scrolling on Facebook or twitter, or watching the latest binge worthy show on Netflix.
The path to success is not about the newest idea or the shiniest app. It is about consistently focus on doing good work and improving just a little every day.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
— Bruce Lee
Hello friends! Thank you for listening. If you like what you hear, head on over to patreon.com/stoicoffee and help support this podcast by becoming a patron. Also stop by the website at www.stoic.coffee where you can sign up for our newsletter, and buy some great looking shirts and hoodies at the Stoic Coffee Shop. Also, if you know of someone that would benefit from or appreciate this podcast, please share it. Word of mouth is the best way to help this podcast grow. Thanks again for listening.