All you have to do is believe in yourself. The hardest step is the first one. The second you decide to succeed, you already have. Sound familiar? The web and motivational literature is littered with these sorts of vague statements, reeking of huge success with just belief. If you’ve ever read a book called The Secret, it’s focused on this exact premise: that self-actualization is the key to success. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s a load of phony baloney and if you think all you need to succeed is belief in yourself, then I have a whole truckload of other crap I could sell you too. The fact is that success is based on two things. A pretty good idea and the gumption to follow through.

I was having a conversation last night with a friend of mine who is an indie game developer. He was a co-worker of mine in a past life and someone that I’ve always admired for his vast knowledge and ability to learn. You see, I have a lot more respect and appreciation for the ability to learn than I do for the ability to do. If you’re intrinsically good at math and can do crazy calculations in your head, that’s wonderful; you’ve got a beautiful mind. But I have a much greater respect for someone who just decides that they’re going to learn to do something and then does it. In any case, this friend has spent the last few years learning programming of all sorts, music production skills and the fine art of selling craft beer. Last night we were talking about some projects he was working on right now, specifically his reengineering and modification of one of his all time favorite video games from “back in the day”. He said that one of his favorite things is finishing a project because it’s just so damned difficult and so it’s just so damned fulfilling.

Well, duh. You see, I’m of the opinion that the two hardest things in the world are to get started and to get finished. We’ve all THOUGHT about a project that we wanted to work on. We’ve all planned a gazebo or a clothing pattern or a career in bonsai trees (don’t ask). But when it comes down to it, we don’t start HALF of those projects. It’s too hard. It’s too scary. I won’t finish it anyways. I don’t have the money. We have a zillion excuses when the answer is that we just don’t have the gumption to follow through. I’ll admit. Every project I ever started and didn’t finish remained unfinished because I wasn’t willing to put in the work to complete it. It was never about the money. It was never about the time. And it was never really about it being too hard. It was about me being a lazy bum.

So, what does all this mean to you, the person reading this, presumably interested in starting something for yourself? Well, a couple of things;

Success takes more than a single affirmation. It is a soul crushing journey. BUT It is entirely doable.

Getting started is the 2nd hardest step. Getting finished is the 1st. Honestly, if you’re not willing to finish something, don’t waste anyone’s time.

Get help. No one at the top worth admiring is unwilling to tell you almost every “secret” they used to succeed. Truly successful people are not threatened by you.

Start small. Don’t go crazy. Don’t open up a chain of gourmet pizzas. Start a blog about making pizza. DO something doable. And build on it. Donald Trump’s first building wasn’t Trump Towers and this sure as hell isn’t my first rodeo. And, if statistics prevail, it probably won’t be my last. It’s fine to read/post motivational quotes. But remember that they don’t cash quotes at the bank.