Latest posts by FIRECracker (see all)
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Pop quiz of the day. Which of these matters the MOST for success?
2) Hard work
5) Surrounding Yourself with the Right People
Before we get to the answer, let me tell you a story.
I knew this girl, Lucy, from engineering school. Compared to me, she was WAY smarter, more confident, hard working, and persistent. Basically, everything that I could do, she could do a hundred times better. So while I constantly teetered on the brink of disaster, she excelled at everything, literarily EVERYTHING she tried. She had the best grades, the most scholarships, and the highest number of job offers.
When it came to accomplishments, we were at opposite ends of spectrum. She was a shooting star; I was a speck of dust.
We were opposites, but we had one thing in common. We both loved to write. And we both dreamed of becoming published authors.
So after we graduated and started working, we made a pact. We would write novels on the side and eventually accomplish our dream of becoming published authors.
That was the plan anyway, until we exchanged stories. Because after only reading her first page, I threw up my hands and wanted to quit. Hers sparkled like a polished gem, while mine was an incoherentness mass of brain fart.
She was Goliath. I was David.
I just KNEW she would get published first. I mean why wouldn’t she? She already kicked my ass at everything else she did.
But shockingly, that didn’t happen.
3 years after we started our writing pact, she gave up. She finished her manuscript, got her first batch of rejection letters, and kept going like she knew she was supposed to. She would be fine, she assured me. She didn’t need help. She could figure it out on her own.
But somehow, year after year and rejection after rejection, she never seemed to get any further ahead. She started off strong, but quickly hit a ceiling, somehow unable to work her way past it for some reason. So she called it quits, figuring that the system was broken.
But I kept going. I kept going way longer than her, 7 years instead of 3. Why? Because every time I hit my next batch of rejection, the letters seemed to get a little more positive, and a little less harsh. I started to get less outright NO’s, and a few more requests. First for the first few pages of my manuscript, then for the full one.
And then 7 years after I first put pen to paper, my childhood dream finally came true and I got published by Scholastic.
Now, this is where you would say well, clearly it was perseverance that got me here, right?
Perseverance was the difference between success and failure?
Nope. Lucy had perseverance in spades. She also had intelligence, diligence, and confidence.
But problem was: she didn’t surround herself with the right people.
As it turns out, when authors say, “it takes a whole village to make a book”, they weren’t kidding.
While Lucy ditched the annual writing festivals to go grocery shopping, I went and paid $500 for an agent’s critique.
While Lucy balked at the cost of NY writing conferences, I dropped $2000 (twice!) on a week in NY city to attend BEA, the biggest writing conference in the States.
If you’ve spent any time on this blog you know that I am absolutely ruthless with my expenses—going as far as sewing patches into my jeans so I wouldn’t have to buy new pants—but when it came to growing my village of industry experts I made it rain.
Because I knew that I would never make any progress unless I sought out people who were better than me.
But what I didn’t expect was how much they paid off.
To date, we’ve made over 6x the money we’ve spent “growing our village”, and we’re just getting started.
If I hadn’t gone to the writing conferences, I would’ve never met the author who would later pay us to design her website. Or the non-profit group who would later hire us to build an app.
If I hadn’t gone to the writing critique, I would’ve never met the agents who taught us everything we were doing wrong in manuscript #2 so that we could get published with manuscript #3.
If we hadn’t gone to NY, we would’ve never met the author who helped us get a Scholastic publishing deal—with an advance that easily paid for the NY expenses.
We succeeded not because we persevered, but because we built our village. We became the saying “you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with.” Because we hung out with literary agents, editors, and best-selling authors, we became authors ourselves and finally got paid to do what we love.
You can’t succeed in a vacuum. You need people who are better than you to teach you the ropes. And when you get out there, you never know what type of opportunities will come back to you.
And in our case, it paid off 6X what we paid into it. And that’s just so far.
Lucy on the other hand, gave up on writing because she wasn’t seeing any progress. She didn’t believe in building a village. And it cost her her dreams.
So coming back to my initial question. Which trait is the MOST crucial for success?
Surrounding Yourself with the Right People
You can’t do it alone. No matter how intelligent, hard working, confident, or persistent you are. To succeed, you need a village.
And that’s why I’m so thankful that we’ll be able to meet our village in person at Chautauqua.
Multiple people have called these Chautauquas a “life-changing experience” and I know why because I know how life-changing meeting your village can be. You go from having to explain to your clueless friends and family over and over again why you’re doing what you’re doing, and instead you are surrounded with people who just “get it.” People like you, and more importantly, people who can help you get to where you’re going.
And in a strange twist of fate that I couldn’t have written into a novel if I wanted to, this time I don’t have to go just to meet my village. I can be the village to someone else.
It takes an entire village to succeed.
So if you want to get started, come with us to Chautauqua.
Your village awaits.
Chautauqua UK is almost sold out, and Chautauqua Ecuador is COMPLETELY sold out. So if you want to meet your village, that window is closing.
Click below to find out more:
Chautauqua UK – Close to being sold out. Only a few slots left…
Chautauqua Ecuador week 1– SOLD OUT!
Chautauqua Ecuador week 2 – JUST ADDED! Join me, JL Collins, and Jesse Mecham (founder of YNAB- You Need A Budget app) in Chautauqua Ecuador from Oct 14, 2017 to Oct 21, 2017! We’ll be talking about investing, how to build your dreams, and entrepreneurship. Click here for more details. Click here to register.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
My post on Chautauqua UK.
Here’s jlcollins’ post.
Here’s Jesse Mecham’s post.
If you want to know what it’s like to go to Chautauqua, Carl from 1500days.com describes it like this:
“I seek out the best people that will have me. I love to be around folks who I can learn from and that challenge me. The chautauqua fit the bill. There was an ex-Googler, a dentist, a veterinarian, software developers, a mechanical engineer, multiple entrepreneurs, an accomplished corporate lawyer, an actuary, and a data scientist. And that doesn’t include any of the four speakers who are all accomplished folks. And no one was a prick…
My favorite part was talking to folks about various business ideas. One attendee was in the process of selling a business he had started years ago. Another attendee was in the process of launching an online store. A couple ideas were even hatched at the event that will see the light of day this year. I’m sure that you’ll all hear about one of them. It is that big. I’m working on another idea that I’m very excited about.
Besides all of that, I consider these people to be my friends. I’ve already seen five of them since Ecuador and I look forward to more visits in 2017. These folks are my peeps 4 keeps.“
Check out his hilarious post here.
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