The Single Most Overlooked Factor in Success

by Alexander Heyne · 7 comments

Shopping around for options, second opinions, and more methods and tools for “success” appears to be human nature.

Just look at the diet fads every 3-6 months. Regardless of whether or not they work we LOVE the idea that somewhere around the corner is another tip, another secret that will magically revolutionize how we achieve xxxx goal.

Books on business and success are a huge industry – it seems like every famous person these days writes a book. Every kid that becomes a millionaire writes a book. Every person that achieves some level of financial success starts a class.

Why? Is there really that much “new” stuff in the world? Are there that many “new” principles for success? Does the internet behave that differently from “real” life?

Even in relationships, people have a notoriously hard time committing these days and is constantly weighing options — what is going on here?

The pursuit of success is no different; people are always looking for something new, just another magical tip to complete their 456 part formula to wealth.

But it doesn’t work.

The more you read the more you suck

We love having tons of tools at our disposal. We love having options. We love second guessing and “shopping around.”


In the fitness industry it’s very much like the business/success industry.

“Oh there’s a nutrient that your diet is missing, omega 3’s omega 6’s, B vitamins, fish oil yadda yadda yadda.”

We love the prospect that right around the corner is something revolutionary and new, that will change our diet success or business success.

But it never freaking happens! 

That’s because there are basic principles that underly almost everything in the world, and no matter how many times you split the subject into a million subsections, nothing will change without committing to some basic principles.

And that’s the essence – people today do not pick one principle or technique and commit. Today’s people are notoriously short on commitment. 

More books, more tools, more more more = you probably won’t use it

Open up your closet and just look at how much shit is in there.

My god, I’m only 25, not at all a horder, and I have close to 1,000 books I haven’t read since I was 15. Literally.

My desk is stuffed with shit that I haven’t used once since childhood.

My drawers are loaded with clothes that 99% of the time I don’t wear. I just have too much stuff.

I suspect your life is much the same – extremely cluttered with stuff that is, to be honest, shit you don’t need.

Okay, that’s not my point though. My point is that the more stuff you have (including tools, books, diet advice, biz advice) the less likely you are to effectively use it.

Remember the jam study?

In group A, consumers had a choice between 24 jams.

In group B, there were 6.

More people stopped by to browse the counter with the 24 selection, only 3% of those visitors actually purchased something.,

In the group with only 6 james, 30% of people purchased one.

This is the classic analysis paralysis study – so many options leaves many of us totally overwhelmed thinking “Shit, uhhhh, uhhhh, uhhhh, yeah.. okay I need to pick something.” It makes thinking foggy.

What would happen if you picked just one thing and committed to it?

What would happen instead of buying that 35th business book, you went back to square 1.

What would happen if you picked one book, and set each moth, or 6 months or year to apply one single principle.

I’ve got hundreds of pages of highlights that I typed up, saved, and printed from just about every business book I’ve read.

I have a three page single-spaced word document with over a hundred tips I’ve collected from the internet on growing your blog.

My mom has shelves upon shelves of business books, her “to-read” list is 40+  books long. Obviously there’s no way she can possibly apply the books she has in that short of a time. There’s just no way.

Shelves upon shelves of business books, we deceive ourselves into thinking we somehow become “smarter” or “better at business” but shoving in such vast quantities of “stuff.”

One day I casually spoke to my mom about the possibility of stopping reading for an entire year to apply the stuff she (and I) have learned in business books.

I cited an example, “Alright, you claim you like this book on business automation and simplification, so why haven’t you applied anything from the book to your business?  With all the stuff around here there’s no way in hell you did an 80/20 analysis of what’s important. How many other extremely useful tips from other books have you been missing?”

It’s too much.

It seems like most of us just read and read and read and don’t apply, until we’ve read so much that we read the same damn thing over and over and over and go “ahhhh, I think there’s a reason why everyone repeated this.”

The SINGLE most overlooked factor in success

…. Is picking one principle and committing to it.

There are tons of principles for success that really work. But they aren’t as simple as making sure your diet has more fish oil.

Instead of reading articles about 456 little tweaks and tips to help be more successful, find the principles that underly those tips and tweaks — maybe successful people just have bigger balls than you. Can it be as simple as staying uncomfortable and avoiding stagnation by learning?

Instead of buying another diet book, why not start reading the same science that doctors read.  Get the fruit right from the vine – educate yourself. Go buy a damn book on physiology and stop passing on ignorant comments based on bullshit science you hear in the gym.

If you’re trying to get bigger, stop reading about every goddamn supplement on and every nutrient and vitamin your diet needs. Chances are, they’re bullshit. Chances are, broader, more obvious changes will produce much better changes.

If you’re trying to build a blog or a successful online business, don’t break everything into itty bitty pieces, put the pieces together and find out what threads underly everything.  Is twitter really about timing, headlines, and a cool icon, or is it about having something people actually want to read about?

If you’re trying to be wildly successful at what you do, you shouldn’t be writing down a thousand notes after each book.

You should be saying “Ooooh I remember reading this principle in another place!” You should be looking for similarities not differences.

So what principle guides your success?

I’ve subtlety mentioned this before — I have one principle that guides my entire life.

It guides everything – how I treat my girlfriend, how I go about my daily life, how I have conversations with pretty girls,   how I make decisions, how I solve personal problems, how I go about work and business.

You canread more about what it is here.

That is my one principle that guides my life. And it works unreasonably well.

It doesn’t matter what domain I apply it in. Diet and fitness, business, personal development, anything.

Pick one thing, and commit. 

There are no new magical pieces to the formula, nothing is waiting “out there” for you

If there’s one thing the world needs now it’s people who can say NO. More knowledge is NOT better.

Reading a book a week is a stupid idea that could be fatal to your success.

We ned people who can cut through ll the shit, all the adrenaline that comes from opening up a book that potentially carries “the next great secret.”

We need people who can say I’m going to apply just this one thing, this one rule, for an entire year. I’m gonna really chew on this book.

There’s this incessant drive forward forward forward as if people think that if you aren’t growing at 1000000 miles an hour you aren’t growing.

There’s this feeling that if you don’t collect the latest, most up-to-date twitter tips article you’re going to be left in the dust by some new magical secret.


Those magical secrets don’t exist. You won’t be left in the dust. In fact, while your friends are analyzing the newest diet or success book, you’ll be surpassing them in light years by utilizing the single most overlooked factor in success:

Sticking with one principle and committing to it. 

Image: <Katarina>

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Freerk April 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Hi Alexander, Thanks for your inspiring words on your blog. They resonate with me and I believe it is no coincidence that I came across your blog in this phase of my life!



Alexander Heyne April 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Hey Freerk,

You’re welcome :)

– Alexander


Alifiya sabir September 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I guess the one principle i lack n which i really need to follow n which reallly matters is..PERseveraNCE.


Brent Warner June 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

This is a really great post. Makes lots of sense.


Alexander Heyne June 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Cheers Brent!


Tara March 11, 2015 at 11:16 am

One word: BRAVO.

Okay, okay…two words: FREAKIN’ BRAVO!


Alexander Heyne March 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Haha, cheers Tara!


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