Baking the loaf of success in 500 words

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about success in life, and how to achieve it. I’ve even done some reading. Now, there are a lot of self-help guides out there, most of which seem to fall into one of two categories: common sense dressed up with psychobabble, or utter bullshit.* And I have come to the conclusion that, with my admittedly non-stratospheric level of success so far, I could do a better job inside 500 words than many of them could in 100,000. So, for your edification and entertainment, here’s my FREE guide to the Five Key Ingredients of Success:

1) Dedication

It’s a simple fact of life that you don’t get anything worth having without putting in the hard yakka. Deny it if you like and go back to your positive thinking. Let me know how that works out.

2) Perseverance

If at first you don’t succeed… give it another try. Go on.

3) Flexibility

Yes, you need both 1) and 2), but if you persevere in bashing your head against a wall, you’ll just get a headache. So you need to be prepared to learn from your mistakes, try different things, change your tactics, and not get so fixated on achieving one thing in one way that you fail to notice other opportunities. Of course, there’s a bit of creative tension between flexibility and perseverance: such things make life interesting.

4) Talent

When baking the loaf of success, hard work is the flour, but talent is the yeast. The relative quantity might be tiny, but without it, you’ve not got much. Well, okay, you’ve got a chapati. Anyway, dubious metaphors aside, in order to do well at something, you do actually need to be good at doing it.

Maybe you’re not sure if you have any talent. Nonsense – of course you do. Everyone’s good at something. Okay, so what you want to be good at and what you’re actually good at might be two different things, but that’s where 3) comes in. If you try out enough things, sooner or later you’ll discover where your talents lie, and then you can make the most of them.†

5) Luck

Maybe it feels like other people get all the breaks. Maybe they do. Moaning about it won’t achieve anything, and nor will moping around waiting for someone to recognise your hidden genius. But a bit of 1) through 4), plus keeping your eyes open, just might. Then, when your lucky break arrives, you’ll be ready for it.

*An honorable exception: 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman.

†What if your talent turns out to be killing people? Well, that’s a valuable skill in its own way. I would suggest that joining the army might be a better career move / contribution to society than either becoming a serial killer or playing Call of Duty all weekend, but hey, you’ve got to make the decision that feels right for you.

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