We’re in love with the idea of success – the chase, the promise of passion, the blessed life waiting just beyond the horizon line.
We’ve built an entire ecosystem fed and maintained by the art of setting goals, taking the leap, finding our passions and rejecting the status quo of a “normal” life. Success pioneers/coaches/guides/gurus/sherpa have discovered countless ways to honor the approach, the first step, the grand dive into a promised new existence.
When we first arrive at the starting line, the chase is met with an eagerness fueled by these heroes before us, hopeful that their previous path to the finish will be chalk lined in Vegas neon.
And perhaps we gain their maps, a bit of technology to level the playing field, and plenty of passion packed to the ceiling with reserves for good measure.
But even so, we still crave their magic.
So we search, and search, and search some more for that final ingredient to send us over the fence, that elusive bit of courage or perfect productivity method resting in a bottomless well of motivation to keep us fueled for the tough road ahead.
Each time the courage wanes, process dead ends or motivation shirks us, we’ll rush back to the well to replenish and start anew.
Until the well dries out.
Until we find that stories or songs or lessons of success aren’t enough to keep us fueled.
Until we realize that being remarkable isn’t just a badge of honor, but a long, selfless journey to Mount Doom with no guarantees of safe passage or return.
This is a strange space that we all find somewhere on the chase, long after the lights have gone down and the starting gun grown cold.
Lately, I’ve been referring (mostly to myself) to this as the grey space – a colorless, abstract land where a passionate many hover somewhere between the excitement of starting and finishing with style.
Here, it’s just us and the work – no heroes, no mentors, no outside motivators to barricade the walls and force our hand, no tried and true formula for putting ideas into action.
Once we’ve found the high of emulation has worn off and the reality of what this journey demands sets in like wet wool, it’s natural to resist our work in honor of planning our way around the struggles.
But the truth?
There is a hell of a lot of hard work in making the chase into a grand finish – most of which is the antithesis of sexy.
Nothing fancy carved between bindings of a book. No step-by-step programs or magic influencer serum to jumpstart success and circumvent the construction process.
The greatness you’re chasing doesn’t give two shits about schedules or busy lives or how badly you want it. It doesn’t recognize dues already paid, hours already given or cubicle farms draining your soul to a husk.
Most especially, it doesn’t give free rides to the top of the mountain for those with a vision.
What you build, what you craft, and what you practice – day in and day out, without promise of any predetermined outcomes or an easy button to skip the hard parts – is what will define the long tail of your journey toward great work.
Short term doesn’t buy into sweat equity, execution, follow through and all the boring intangibles that don’t typically garner the big applause or the red carpet treatment like the big ideas and big personalities we like to emulate.
But at the end of your brick road – when the darkness has parted and the gates to the grand stage stand wide open and welcoming – you’ll look back and connect the one truth of your success to a reality we often overlook.
You earned it.