I listen to a lot of podcasts. I especially enjoy listening to interview shows with business leaders. One thing I find funny about these shows is that the interviewers tend to ask very similar questions. The responses from leaders end up sounding like a stump speech. The way these success stories are framed can make it seem as if their success was somehow pre-ordained.
I believe the truth of most success stories is much more simplistic and involves a good bit of luck. Many honest business icons will admit that they were in the right place at the right time when their opportunity presented itself.
To be clear, I think luck should get much of the credit, but luck is not the only factor that matters. I would add preparation, perseverance and patience to the equation. These traits are essential to creating success. Without them, the luck that comes our way will only be remembered in hindsight as missed opportunity.
"The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win." - Vince Lombardi
You will be hard pressed to find truly successful leaders that got there purely by accident. Many successful leaders are preparing to be successful long before opportunity ever crosses their path. If you are not developing yourself, you will not be prepared to seize an opportunity when one presents itself.
It should be noted that success doesn't happen the other way around. Take promotions as an example. If you want promotion at work, prepare yourself for that work. Don't wait for the position to be bestowed upon you. Train yourself through volunteering for assignments that raise you up to the level you want to achieve. When the opportunity does open up, you will be uniquely positioned to fill the role.
Perseverance seems simple conceptually, but it can be difficult in practice. When it comes to exercise or self development or investing, perseverance is crucial to success.
We live in an on-demand, instant gratification culture. Perseverance seems old-fashioned but it is essential to achieve results that really matter. It might take three years to lose 50 pounds of unhealthy weight, but with perseverance, you will get there and stay there for the long term. Perseverance helps build habits; good habits are what you need to establish a foundation for long term success.
The notion of patience here is very similar to perseverance, but it gives a slightly different perspective. Success typically isn't an overnight event. I'm sure you could find stories of instant success but they are extremely rare. You have to do the hard work and do it consistently.
Patience also requires discipline; the discipline of not changing. What I mean by not changing is having the courage to stay the course. Whether it is earning an advanced degree, investing in leadership development, or a long term weight loss goal, the principle is the same. Having the patience to keep your workout routine consistent even though your results are agonizingly slow will be crucial to your long term success.
Be patient, persevere, and prepare to be the person you aim to be. If you can practice these principles consistently, you will be ready when the right opportunities come your way.