Sometimes You Win The Race Because Everyone Else Stops Running

Success isn’t always predicated on one, golden idea. In fact, it often comes from years of showing up, meeting deadlines, and doing what you said you were going to do while other people give up.

She leans across the table and taps the voice recorder app on her phone. She asks me – in that way only a college sophomore who’s doing a class project can – “To what do you owe your success?”

I laaaaaugh and stare into my latte and give her an answer that will never,ever be embroidered on a pillow:

“I kept writing and working when lots of other people stopped.”

And then she laughs because when we first sat down, she told me she’d been reading my blog since middle school. She has seen, first hand, that I’ve been writing and working (and then writing and working some more) for literally a decade.

And if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen this, too. That the “success” I’ve experienced has mostly occurred through sheer force of will. 70% of bloggers quit blogging after three months. I just …didn’t.

Because here’s the thing: I think I’m a good writer and I think I have good ideas.

But.

A huge, incredibly un-sexy ingredient in my success is that I’ve simply kept going. For almost 10 years, I’ve written blog posts, replied to comments, and promoted things I created. I’ve done this almost every blessed week day. For 10 years.

Hard work is a necessary ingredient in success. Being a genius isn't. Click To Tweet

I think when we imagine ‘success,’ a lot of us imagine creating an amazing, break-through product. We think we’ll land a Fortune 500 client, win a high-profile case, write a New York Times best seller, or have our research published somewhere important.

And that might happen! And it’ll be super exciting if it does!

But sometimes you’re going to win the race because everybody else stops running.

Sometimes, you’re going to look around and realize that most of the people who started at the same time as you – the other podcasters, coaches, writers, designers – have thrown in the towel and moved on.

But you’re still there, with your years of experience and work, with your full portfolio and piles of testimonials, happy to take on the projects and clients that are waiting for you.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with moving on. With deciding that a path isn’t right for you and you’re ready to pursue something else.

But if you’re feeling tempted to give up because things aren’t progressing quite how you’d like, I think we could all use the reminder, that success often comes slowly and un-sexily. It comes one byline, one grant, one referral at a time.

Success isn’t always predicated on one, golden idea. In fact, it often comes from years of showing up, meeting deadlines, and doing what you said you were going to do while other people give up.

If you’re pressuring yourself to discover your One Perfect Thing, to become an overnight success, or make your first million – slow down.

If you keep showing up, success will probably show up for you. Eventually. 😉

I want to hear from you! Have you ever ‘won the race’ because everyone else dropped out? Have you ‘dropped out’ of any races you wish you’d stuck with? 

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 coaching and support with your business or life in general, I can help with that!

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

7 Comments

Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui

I LOVE this! I started my blog about 2.5 ys ago and have been slowly plodding along ans stories like this are hugely inspiring. By the way, my first blog? It lasted just 3 months:) It was NOT the right time but the work I’m doing today feels as much vocational- and life-giving- as it feels like a (PT) career. I think I’ll just keep showing up. xo

Reply
Taylor

I love this, Sarah! Absolutely the reminder I needed now, as I am in the beginning stages of building my own writing career. For the past few months, I’ve been blogging, reading and following new publications, learning more about the media industry, drafting pitches, etc. and sometimes I get frustrated because I see where I want to be, and I’m very much not there yet.

I forget that the successful writers I admire all started at the bottom at some point, and they’re where they are now after years of trying, failing, and taking small steps forward. So for now, I’m going to keep chugging along, experimenting and trying new things, and celebrating small successes (for example, my first article got published the other day!).

taylormundo.com

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erinsuzanne

YES! I work in the field of environmental education where there are millions of low-paid part-time jobs and internships, and far fewer well-paying, benefits-providing jobs. I spent years showing up- working more than one job, doing the environmental ed thing on weekends and summers, going back to school, developing grant writing skills, and now have my absolutely dream job running the education/programming/interpretation at a nature center. I’m well paid, my work feels meaningful, I have a lot of autonomy, I get to do really cool, meaningful work, and a lot of people say “your job is so cool! I started out in environmental education but didn’t stick with it” or they’ll ask how I got to where I am and when I talk about my path, they’ll immediately say “i don’t have time to do that.” So much of it was showing up, developing new skills, trying new things, and doing a lot of hard work!

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Indya | The Small Adventurer

This is such an eye-opening post. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and think, “Oh, but I do this better than them, why do they get all the attention?” Well, whether you are or aren’t better than them isn’t always the point. The point is that they put in the time and effort, whereas you might not. I’m saying “you” here, but I’m really talking to myself. Good things take time, and skills will only improve the longer you work on them. This was truly an inspiring read, and congratulations on sticking with something for so long and still enjoying it!

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