The Grind: How to Become Amazing at Anything

Did you know that there’s one single factor that you can look at to predict an individual’s future success with astonishing accuracy?

That means that if you asked me to predict how successful a starting entrepreneur will be, I’d only want (and need) to know one single thing about them.

I’ll tell you exactly what that factor is (and back it up with science). But first, let me show what it has to do with online videos.

A while ago, I received this tweet:

I’ve received several similarly flattering comments about my dashing on-screen performances in comments and by email. That’s great for my ego, of course, but on close examination, there’s an interesting commonality in these comments. The commonality is the attribution to talent.

Well, I beg to differ:

This, I’m sure you realize, is very good news.

It’s good news because it means that whatever you want to be good at, you probably can become good at. It’s just a matter of practice.

How much of a business asset is it if you can make awesome videos?

How great would it be if you were a masterful copywriter?

How much would you benefit from having top productivity skills?

You can have those advantages, it’s just a matter of practice.

What we recognize as “talent” may not really exist. Malcolm Gladwell has some very interesting things to say on this topic, in his book Outliers. And Daniel Coyle came to similar conclusions in the research he did for his book The Talent Code.

And it gets better.

The Learning Curve is on Your Side

While it may take a very long time to become world-class excellent at something (usually around 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, according to studies done by Dr. K Anders Ericsson), it doesn’t take much to get your skill level to above average.

Skill or "Talent" level and Practice

Getting from below average to above average takes just a bit of practice. Getting from the top 5% to the top 1% is a long hard road. And guess what? You don’t have to be anywhere near world-class skilled before a skill becomes a valuable asset.

All this brings us back to the opening statements of this post. The most important factor that predicts whether someone is likely to be successful is their level of determination. The one thing I’d want to know, to predict your success is whether you’re capable of going through the grind, or not.

Don’t Believe Me; Prove it to Yourself

The principle of The Grind is that you can become good at almost anything if you just practice and grind it out, through the tough parts. This is a central life philosophy of mine and it has served me very well.

But you shouldn’t believe me.

You should prove (or disprove) this theory yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a skill.
  2. Challenge yourself to practice that skill every day, for 30 days.
  3. Use 42goals or download this spreadsheet, to keep track of the challenge.
  4. See how much your skill level has improved, after 30 days.

That’s it.

Keeping up the challenge is surprisingly easy and the 30 days pass surprisingly quickly.

If you have any reasons or excuses not to do a 30 day challenge, please leave a comment about that. I’m genuinely interested in having a discussion about possible reasons not to make use of this amazing and simple tool.

Who am I Kidding?

Now you’re maybe thinking that I’m just in denial about the amazing gifts I was born with.

The reason I bring this up has to do with the case study video, where we deliberately chose to talk about my very first attempt at creating and marketing a product online. We chose this because we hoped it would remove the typical objections. If I tell you that I created and released a product successfully now then you’d rightfully say that that’s not such a big deal. I already have a large mailing list, a fairly established blog, some connections, lots of experience etc.

In the video, we talk about what I did before I had any of those things. Interestingly, the reaction was (in some cases) still the same: I was told that I was talented or somehow otherwise “special” and this allowed me to have success with my first product.

Here’s my (hopefully) final response to this objection: if you could rewind time and watch my life, you wouldn’t have to go too far back before you’d feel superior.

Watch early enough videos of me and what you’ll think will be: “I can damn sure make a better video than that.”

Watch early attempts at creating a business and you’d think: “man, that guy’s hopeless. I’m way more qualified to run a business than him. I’m way more likely to succeed.”

If it looks like I’m talented at something, it’s just because I’ve invested some time into practice.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it! And leave a comment with your thoughts on this topic. If you’re setting yourself a 30 day challenge, announce it here!

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About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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