The 3 Pillars of Success
Three invaluable lessons for a successful life
Jose Roberto Valladares
What does success mean to you?
Ask different people, and you’ll get different answers.
Some strive for fame, some for money, others for personal fulfilment, and some for a big and happy family. Whatever your definition of success might be, I guarantee you, it’ll differ, to a certain extent, from mine.
We can’t really quantify or objectively describe what being successful means, but while doing some research for this article I came across two quiet shocking numbers: 1% and 81%.
I guess this is pretty well known, but it is worth sharing and reminding that half of the world’s net wealth belongs to only the top 1% of the population, meaning the richest 1% of the population. Instead, something that might be a little less known, is that, according to research, only 19% of people actually achieve their yearly goals — it might be hard to grasp, but this means that, every year, around 6.5 billion people don’t reach their goals.
But, why is this?
Well, you can call me nosey all you want, but growing up as an introvert I spent good part of my life observing others. The way people act, they way they react, the way they behave, and you know what most unsuccessful people have in common? They complain, they make excuses, they blame others, they blame society, they envy those who are thriving.
And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there.
Unfortunately, most people grow up thinking that the world owes them something, that they deserve success just because they want it. The problem is, these people are also the ones who are not willing to put in the work — Eric Thomas sums it up when he says:
“Some of you want sleep more than you want success!”
I admit it, the world is a messed up place. Life can be extremely tough and challenging. Life is not fair. But honestly, that’s no excuse: decide what you want, devise a plan to get there, and work towards your goals, every.single.day.
Not long ago, I decided it was time for me to stop making excuses, and in order to figure out what I wanted, and how to get it, I realised it was best to stop envying those who were already at the top of the mountain, and instead start learning from them in order to reach success:
Make yourself accountable
Remember what I was saying earlier? Most people blame others, they blame society, they blame their circumstances. It is never their fault, and you can’t tell them otherwise — but what if that weren’t the case?
“Blaming yourself leads to the outcome you were looking for by blaming others.”
— Gary Vaynerchuk
As humans, we’re not used to this. Our biology is programmed so that every one of our actions aims to either avoiding pain, or seeking pleasure. This makes it extremely hard to actually take responsibility and blame ourselves for our own mistakes.
Guilt doesn’t feel good, but once we understand that, in order to reach success and become all around better human beings, it is necessary, our lives take a giant leap forward.
Just think about it.
Are you really going to complain about having a body you don’t like, if you don’t eat how you’re supposed to? Can you whine about the F you got on that test, knowing you barely studied for it? Is complaining about your situation going to make it any better? No, because you can’t complain about not being successful if you’re not putting in the work.
It’s not easy
I honestly feel this guy’s name speaks for itself, but, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, let me give you a brief rundown of who he is and what he has done.
Genius, physicist, and entrepreneur. Musk’s first successful company was PayPal. He eventually left the internet giant and used the money from it to found SpaceX, a rocket company, and Tesla, an electric cars company.
Biography and details aside, my point is: as controversial of a figure as he might be, he also perfectly embodies the definition of hard work and resilience.
Musk thinks the future of humanity is among the stars, and he wanted to help colonise other planets, so he founded SpaceX; still, he thinks making our planet a better one is of utmost importance, and for this to happen the transition to electric cars is necessary, so he founded Tesla. Both companies came very close to bankruptcy several times throughout the years, most people thought he wouldn’t make it, but Musk had a clear vision and he believed in what he was doing, so he pushed forward without hesitation — look at him now.
Elon is living proof that, although the road to success might not be paved with gold, with a clear vision anything is possible, and all the pain, effort and hard work, end up paying off.
“I don’t ever give up. I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated.”
— Elon Musk
Countless times I’ve heard people say the don’t have the time, they don’t have the money, they don’t have the energy. What’s funny though, is that these are the same people that stay up until 3 am watching Netflix, or that spend 5 dollars for a Starbucks iced coffee, everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a soulless machine. I also love Starbucks and enjoy binge-watching Netflix, but here’s the difference: for most people, they are priorities, for me they have become optionals.
I’d rather skip that extra episode of Rick and Morty before going to bed, and instead wake up earlier the following morning to make more time and study for my exams; I’d rather drink some homemade iced coffee (which, believe me, is extremely good, easy to make, and cheap), and save the money I’d spend at Starbucks to invest in a gym membership; I’d rather avoid going to the club every weekend, so that I can preserve energy and work on my passion or my side-hustle during that free time.
Most people do have the time, or the money, or the energy, the thing is, they simply choose to allocate those resources poorly. Most people waste these invaluable resources in other activities that don’t add any value to their life and don’t get them any closer to their goals.
If you wake up every day at 1 pm, don’t expect to find the time to start writing your book; if you don’t sleep enough at night, you won’t have the mental clarity to study for your exams; if you spend all of your money in unnecessary things, you will never have enough for the things that do matter. And remember, I know all of this because I’ve been there.
It’s all about prioritizing.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
But I guess some people just don’t want it bad enough.
Now I’m not saying this is a perfect formula or a precise roadmap to success. You need a goal and a plan to reach that goal, but these are the three pillars on which the road to success stands, these are the three pillars without which no amount of preparation, opportunities or luck is enough.
Take responsibility, work hard, and work on the things that really matter.
Life can be tough and unfair, but there’s always a way to make things better. I’ve been there, and trust me, things can change.
Jose Roberto Valladares