Doing Everything Right Doesn’t Guarantee Success

by Alexander Heyne · 2 comments

“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.”

-Byron Dorgan

Failure: One of Those Things Mommy Never Told You About

Nothing guarantees success.  Working hard doesn’t guarantee success. Working a lot doesn’t guarantee success.  Having everyone behind you doesn’t guarantee success.  Having innate talent or being gifted doesn’t guarantee success.  Having all the resources in the world doesn’t guarantee success.

These words shouldn’t shock you, or make you think I’m a downer or that I’m here to burst your bubble and get you to drop everything. These words are here to inspire you to realize that the only way to reach success (however you define that) is to constantly change and flow based on the circumstances.  

There are a million and one reasons why there is no formula to success.  The important thing (for now) is not creating a flow chart for how to succeed, but rather realize that being an adult means being bold, making your own choices, and sometimes rolling with the punches.

Society’s False Promises

When I graduated from college I felt like it was the beginning of a new era.  Tons of opportunities to do whatever I want.  Tons of places to get a job that was way better than I would have had otherwise.  Tons of resources behind me.  Tons of people behind me.

And then reality struck.

I joined an increasingly large group of people who feel like they deserve a lot.  We feel like we deserve the whole damn earth, and anyone who tells us otherwise is spouting lies and can go suck it.

The problem is that they are totally right.  I don’t deserve anything.  You don’t deserve anything. We don’t deserve anything. But we’ve been promised a lot, so what the hell is going on here?

Don’t Freak Out

This realization that none of us deserve anything should be one of the most liberating moments in your life.  It is a reminder that you are only given what you ask for, and you only achieve what you try to seize by the balls.  It means living an active life, with the unstated assumption (new conventional wisdom) being: I have to put myself out there.

Specific changes that will occur:

  1. You’ll see how powerful “ask and you shall receive is.”
  2. You won’t be a victim or act like a little bitch if life is cruel to you.  You won’t blame the gods.  You won’t blame others.  You won’t complain.
  3. You’ll experience previously unseen of personal levels of success.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Pretty much everyone knows this Biblical quote.  I love it so much because it encourages the bold attitude. However, very few people know that literally doing that — asking for something — results in way more opportunities than you’d receive otherwise.

A few personal examples:

  • I got bored waiting in the airport on a flight to Europe so I jokingly asked a lady at the counter if she could upgrade me.  Easy way to a first class ticket
  • One time lost in Prague at an awkward hour in a bad place I was surprised no one noticed my plight and nervousness.  I asked a random man for a phone, and not only did he let me use his Blackberry for an hour (until I got through) he gave me $20 to get to the place I was staying
  • On more than one occasion I’ve jokingly asked bartenders to buy me a drink in a bar… and on more than one occasion I’ve had free drinks

Planning the Right Way

Later we’ll talk about specifics on planning to succeed. But for right now it’s important to have the backup plan straight when you think you’ve done everything right, but life is still sucking.  Or, if you think you’re a little Princess everything will come naturally to, remind you with a big fat palm smack to the head that you’re a mortal:

  • Again, realize that your status or privileges (or lack thereof) may influence but never guarantee your future.  College doesn’t guarantee finding a great job.  Money doesn’t guarantee you’ll get further than someone else without it.  Talent doesn’t mean life will come easy.
  • Realize that you and only you are fully responsible for your life. After all, this phase of life is about growing a pair (or a metaphorical pair, if you’re a female) and manning up (sorry, that phrase would suck if I made it politically correct).

Most Importantly

Remember that talent and inherent gifts are absolutely no match for a smart, well-planned, driven individual.  There is absolutely no competition and no doubt in my mind.

“Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare.”


Seize life by the balls.  Only those who ask shall receive.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

afheyne August 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Thank you!


Suki December 23, 2016 at 1:08 am

So on time and a reality check for so many people who are feeling disillusioned. I am practicing asking more for what I want. I had to purge many old ideas about success and “doing everything right”.

Thanks for resharing this!


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