Jake James

Misunderstanding What it Takes to Succeed

I was re-reading John McNellis' "Making it in Real Estate" and came across his discussion on the famous Woody Allen Quote about success:

80% of success is showing up.

Turns out this quote has been widely misunderstood, at least for most people. Using fitness as an analogy, I'll explain the way I had always understood it. Let's say you've decided that you want to get lean and mean by losing 15 pounds and shedding your body fat percentage from 16% to 12%. Well to do that, you're gonna have to get yourself some exercise, and if you're lifting weights, you'll likely need to head to a gym (unless like me you've eliminated this friction by setting up things at home, but that's a different topic).

The way I had always understood that quote meant that 80% of success is just getting yourself to the gym, ready to do the workout. Turns out, this is how a lot of people took it, but its not at all what Allen had in mind. He stated this observation from the perspective where people would tell him their ambitions to write plays or movie scripts, but what he found was that most of them didn't even give themselves a chance by actually writing something. Those who succeeded were those that actually wrote a play or a script!

So what he actually meant was that 80% of success is actually doing the work, not putting yourself in the position to do the work, but actually doing the thing. Kind of like what separates entrepreneurs from those who just have great ideas and say "Oh, wouldn't that be a good idea, I bet that'd make a ton of money!" Most people just talk about an idea, but don't actually do anything about it. Entrepreneurs take action and do the thing. So no, you can't just have good intentions and be successful. You have to actually do the work. My guess is the other 20% of success consists of being consistent and not giving up, but that's for me to find out some day.