How To Be Successful At Anything

Dec 02

How To Be Successful At Anything


It seems fleeting.

We look at it like it’s a mythical creature.

But it’s not a unicorn.

It’s ridiculously obtainable.

There is a catch though.

Today we’re going to get into the nitty gritty details and discover how you can succeed at anything you want.

What Success Means

Success is defined in plenty of different ways. I encourage you to define it for yourself because if it’s unclear for you then this journey is going to be a struggle.

For the sake of this article, we are going to describe success as the act of going from Point A to Point B. From nothing to something.


Point A –> Working a shitty nine to five.

Point B –>  Quit the shitty nine to five and travel the world while running an online business.

The Slight Edge

I’ve been reading a book that embodies what this blog is all about. It’s called The Slight Edge.

It’s all about the idea of Invisible Results.

If you walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes today what is that going to do?

Probably nothing.

But if you walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes every day for one year what is that going to do?

A shit load.

Turns out, going from Point A to Point B isn’t actually that hard.

You get there by taking consistent forward action over a long period of time.

To the readers of PD, this part shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s fairly obvious this is how it’s done.

But I’ve found there are two major obstacles everyone encounters when trying to reach success.

1) Lack of patience.

2) Poor handling of the highs and lows.

Today we’re going to tackle both.

Let’s get to it.

Lack Of Patience

It can be extremely tough to stick with it.

I understand.

We all want things NOW!

Social conditioning has done a killer job of destroying any semblance of patience.

But I’ve come up with a solution. It’s something I use in my own life to keep me grounded and moving forward.

It’s called The University Principle.

University lasts about four years.

In that time you labor over exams and essays.

Long hours are spent reading dry text books and your will power is tested on a regular basis.

But every year hundreds of thousands of students graduate.

I may not be a fan of traditional education, but I do have respect for these people.

It’s tough as shit to do this.

But here’s the big question…

If so many people are willing to devote four years of their life to get a degree, why wouldn’t they be willing to do the same for something they actually enjoy?


Seriously – To reach the highest levels of success you need to devote many years of your life.

If you’re in your first year of forging your own path, you’re a freshman.

It would be crazy for a freshman in university to ask for their diploma.

But whether you’re a freshman or a senior – it doesn’t matter.

You’re still going to hit levels of success on your journey.

I’m months away from meeting a colossal goal of traveling and I’m only a sophomore.

I’ve spent a year and half working towards that goal. But it’s still not the end.

It’s just another level. It’s just another A+ in life.

Why do you think Chris Guillebeau, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Seth Godin succeed all the time?

Because they have their PHD’s in life.

They’ve put in the work and now they’re reaping the rewards.

Those dudes are Ivy League.

Honestly, the only thing that really separates the extraordinary achievers from everyone else is time and action.

I wish I had a magic bullet for you but there isn’t one.

Success isn’t mythical but overnight success is.

Adopt the university principle into your daily life and come back to it whenever you feel yourself losing patience.

Dealing With Highs & Lows On The Journey

I have to confess something.

I have mood swings.

Sometimes I’m in a state of ridiculous euphoria and other times I think about dropping off the internet and getting a job at the grocery store.

If you’ve never ran a business, you probably think I’m fucking insane.

For everyone else – I KNOW you are nodding your head in recognition.

Turns out, this journey is littered with emotional swings.

But almost NO ONE is talking about it.

A few weeks back I sent out a pretty emotional article to a few friends to get their feedback. In there, I spoke about the mood swings.

The most common response I got was “You have that too!?”

I also saw this post the other day by my good buddy Mike Hrostoski.

mike hrostoski

143 Likes and 35 comments.

You are not alone.

Highs and lows are a part of the journey and they never go away.

What To Do?

Make peace with all of it. That’s all you can do.

There is no magical answer.

Mark Manson has a pretty awesome idea called The Do Something Principle that definitely helps people get out of a funk. But it’s still not a magic bullet.

Understand that every single person forging their own path has highs and lows and you just have to be okay with it.

If you can’t make peace with this, two things can happen…

1)    Your journey will be really lousy

2)    You’ll give up when things get really low

So recognize the low and know it will pass. Take action every day regardless of how you feel and treat your journey like university.

Because success is not a unicorn.

It’s real life.

Photo Cred: Ranil Amarasuriya

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  1. Great article man,

    It’s true about the 4 year degree concept. People are too impatient to see success and give up too quickly. Yet they’re more than willing to whack out 4 years on a degree that in the end doesn’t even guarantee success.

    I’ve been running my blog for 18 months now and I get frustrated with it at times, especially seeing others around me succeeding. But I know that with consistency. Slowly but surely, something will come from it. It’s inevitable.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Absolutely man. People go towards what’s comfortable and a degree will always be more comfortable than pursuing entrepreneurship.

      Good things come with time brother. Like you said – it’s inevitable.

  2. Hey bro,

    Fuck, really enjoyed this one! The ‘University’ Principal as you called it is actually a really good way to look at the time it takes and how expecting success in one year is just crazy when you think about the minimum it takes for a degree!
    Especially when a lot of people struggle to stay consistent they just keep pushing their own 4 years further and further away.

    Also, that quote from Mike, holy fuck spot on.
    It’s so hard to even put into words how much of a roller coaster it can all be and handling the emotions and shit that fluctuates, but compared to the complacency and boredom of the 9-5 world… Those feelings remind you that you’re actually ALIVE.

    Good one man, hope you have a good week!


    • Kevin Cole /

      Hey man, glad you liked it!

      Those ups and downs definitely remind you that you’re alive. That’s a really good way of looking at it.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Hi Kevin,

    Excellent insights, indeed!

    I can resonate with the highs and the lows you mentioned. By accepting and appreciating that a journey of growth requires time, we give ourselves the opportunity to keep on experimenting and developing our craft. It’s better to achieve the end goal after we learnt a lot in the process, rather than have something handed to us on a plate. Sure, the latter might be quick gratification. However, whether our wisdom would have developed, this I highly doubt.

    Thank you.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Very good points Hiten. There’s so much merit to delayed gratification. We can only learn the hard lessons by having a journey.

      If there is no journey – there is no reward.

  4. Mind blowing stuff, man. Especially the bipolar disorder thing. I Googled that and, much like your friends, was amazed to find out this Actually Exists. Damn!

    I mean, even though I “supposed” people have it, I didn’t know how to put this in words before. To find out that this is actually out there, for real? I’ll say it again: damn!

    Entrepreneurship is SO dependent on mindset! Eye-opening article Kevin, thanks for that man. Keep the awesome stuff coming!

  5. Right now I’m trying my best to put on some weight. Hard as hell, man. I feel like I’m eating more than I need for the day and I wish I could see daily results but I know I’ve got to be in it for the long-run.

    • What kind of weight are you trying to put on? Muscle? Some people don’t absorb as much of what they eat as others, so you might have to eat absurd amounts of food to beef up. One of my friends who’s like 5.5, lazy and skinny as hell and eats more than I did when I was trying to beef up. Also eat strategically. Of course get some greens down, but don’t fill up on empty fiber and water vegetables like cucumber and celery. Eat more of the high energy food, specifically protein rich foods if you’re trying to put on muscle..

    • Kevin Cole /

      Eat peanut-butter and banana sandwiches all day every day. Problem solved. :)

  6. Man I just can’t seem to get back into the book reading game. It’s not that I don’t have the time, I just seem to have ruined my ability to focus for long periods of time.

    When it comes to success it seems like we have some of the same ideas. And I really like the do something principle, I feel like I cop out a bit too much when I feel completely unmotivated.

    • Kevin Cole /

      I know what you mean about struggling to focus. We live in a world of constant distraction where it’s tough to stay on one thing for a long time.

      That’s why I’ve started meditating daily. Results have been minimal thus far but I know with time it will make a difference.

      The do something principle is definitely legit. It’s gotten me out of plenty of bad days.

  7. Great stuff, Kevin. I love how you expanded on the “4-year” concept you mentioned before. It’s so true that some goals will just take time, but in the end success is just a series of small steps. I use this idea all the time when I’m discouraged. I think to myself that doing one little task is bringing me that much closer to my goal. And after a few of those, I’ll be even closer.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Absolutely man. Each one of those small tasks add up over time. It’s like compounding interest with your goals.

      Keep at it man!

  8. Yes, Kevin! Yes! I too have highs and lows. While they are evening out a bit these days, events and “things” inevitably pop up. I recently had a few weeks where the wheels were threatening to fall off the bus – lots of things to do and several things went wrong. We decided that we would NOT sacrifice our exercise or healthy eating. That was about all we could muster, but it made a huge difference in our ability to make good decisions. Our walks didn’t happen all at 6am “like usual” but we did exercise. I could have thrown up my hands and said, “Screw it, I’m eating burgers and fries instead of this healthy crap,” but I didn’t and now that the ship seems to be righting itself, I’m glad I didn’t let the wheels fall completely off the bus. I’m lousy at changing tires! ;) Have a great one!

    • Kevin Cole /

      Definitely been there before Tammy! The easy route is to stop everything. The hard route is to keep on going and work things out. But we all know which one is the right decision.

      Here’s to being terrible mechanics!

  9. ‘The University Principle’. Man, I love that. That’s a comparison I’m going to use. I’m beginning to suspect that the single most powerful attribute a person can have is patience, that willingness to work at something over a protracted period of time. I guess, like you say, that’s why first taking time to clearly define success for yourself is so important. It let’s you choose what you’ll be willing to persevere with.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Patience is so ridiculously important. But you most definitely need to figure out what you’re being patient for. Or at the very least have a vague vision and feeling of what it will look like.

      Glad you liked it man!

  10. Kevin,
    Loving the university principle. That’s a great way of framing it!

    But why are so many people willing to spend 4 years on a degree?

    —> Because:
    a) Their parents and everyone else told them that’s what to do.

    b)They have good grades and are confused about what to do, so no other alternative seems better. Partying on campus beats the Pita Pit. (But the debt doesn’t).

    c) It’s free (Sweden).

  11. Hello Kevin,

    The Slight Edge is a must read book! I’ve read it several times. The principles of doing something we have a passion for on a daily basis is so essential. It leads to success and fulfillment. Great thoughts here!

    • Kevin Cole /

      Great to hear you read the book man! Definitely an eye-opening read!

  12. Kevin – you knocked it out of the park with this one with the wisdom and straight-talk!

    Brilliant line –> If so many people are willing to devote four years of their life to get a degree, why wouldn’t they be willing to do the same for something they actually enjoy?

    I’ve been the 9-5 or more like 9-9 person at times in my life and coming to the realization that I can put the same amount of work into what I enjoy doing instead. I’m moving in that direction again and have gone into and out of jobs and careers.

    I’ve left jobs before big pay raises or more responsibility. People ask I’m crazy but I think more of not following your dream or passion is crazy. It does take awhile and comes at a significant personal and professional cost, but the alternative kills the spirit.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Glad you liked it buddy! Thanks for sharing your story.

      It’s definitely a long and winding road filled with sacrifice and ridicule – but ultimately it’s our own journey and we have to do what feels right.

      Great to hear you’re riding your own path!

  13. Kevin,

    And I thought I was the only one with business bipolar!

    If every nail in the world was lined up, you’d have hit every single one of them with this post, Kevin.

    Impatience is perhaps the biggest threat to success. Daily, consistent effort is an awesome theory. The practice? Not so awesome. Especially on those shitty days. When all you wanna do is stay in your bed of self-pity and just dream about success. Since the doing is much more tough.

    Actually living it is a whole other story.

    Gonna get myself a copy of the book …. sounds rockin.

    - Razwana

    • Kevin Cole /

      You’re not alone Razwana! I love how you said “the doing is much more tough.” That’s so spot on.

      It will always be harder to walk the walk, but all the other alternatives really suck :)

  14. I ask myself that question regarding getting a job all the freaking time. People spend so much energy and time towards getting a normal job. To make it worst they compete against each other for this boring life. Why not do something cool that you’re passionate about instead?

    • Kevin Cole /

      That’s such a good point Sebastian. The idea of applying for a job is so crazy to me these days.

      Why would you volunteer for something you hate? Pretty bananas.

  15. Reminds of a TED Talk I was listening to (actually I think it was the TED radio hour). It was talking about Success.

    Ted Radio Hour on Success

    They did an insane study looking at all the factors determining success. In the end they only found one thing was really a factor…grit.

    People’s ability to persist no matter what was the ONLY reliable predictor of someone’s future success. Not their education, up brining, or social class.

    Interesting stuff.

    • Kevin Cole /

      Interesting stuff indeed Mark. I haven’t watched that episode but I have heard of the research being done around grit.

      It’s definitely the most simple and effective way I’ve found of making shit happen.


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