Digging For Success
Digging For Success
December 3, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
“Eureka!” is a Greek word that means “I have found it!” The word has been attributed to Archimedes, a Greek scholar. The word has been subsequently linked to miners during the gold rush in places like Australia and the United States. Since its design in 1849, the seal of California has borne the word “Eureka”, which symbolizes the tremendous discovery of gold near Sutter’s Mill in 1848. “Eureka” is also California’s state motto. There is even a city in California called “Eureka”, which was founded in 1850, and at least eleven other cities or towns in the United States also named, “Eureka”.
Most certainly, many of us dream of the day when we fortuitously stumble into success and can finally yell, “Eureka!” Unfortunately, the success some of us have long dreamed of has not arrived and we are perplexed as to why not. The reality is that the process for attaining success can be tough. Underground hard rock mining is one of the most laborious, time consuming, and dangerous ways of mining gold. If successful, however, it can also be quite financially rewarding. In many ways, digging for success can sometimes feel just as intense as underground hard rock mining. Nevertheless, if we persist, the rewards can be great. Here are a few tips that can help us to determine why our eureka moments have not yet arrived and what we can do about it:
- It’s all about the shovel. I believe that all our lots in life have gold but only few of us have shovels. In other words, there are more opportunities for us to succeed in life than we have the right tools to take advantage of those opportunities. Hence, the first question we must ask ourselves when we don’t have the success we desire is whether we are digging for success with the right tool, namely a shovel. A shovel symbolizes the things that are critical for success. For example, having the right skills, education, connections, sponsors, mentors, career plan, strategy for playing the game, attitude, experience, and so on. Digging for success without the right shovel is like digging for gold with bare hands. If we do a self-assessment and we come up short on having the right shovel for success, then our next step must be to acquire it. The first thing to do is create a success plan. In order for miners to maximize the extraction of gold, they follow elaborate mining plans. Similarly, we must have a plan in order to maximize success in our lives. We can start by talking to people we want to emulate who have achieved success in the areas that we desire to achieve success.
- Fire in the belly is a must. Sometimes we can have the best mining tools and someone might even point to the exact location where the gold is located and say, “X marks the spot.” However, if we don’t have the fire in the belly to dig then we will not discover gold. Similarly, even with the right opportunities and the right shovel, success might still evades us because we don’t have the fire in the belly to resiliently stay the course. Fire in the belly symbolizes our effort and is the thing that allows us to start digging and to never stop until we succeed. Just like gold, it is rare that success lies semi-exposed beneath shallow dirt. More often than not, success is deeply buried in obscure places and requires a tremendous amount of effort to excavate. Fire in the belly is the fuel that allows us to dig and not complain. It also allows us to keep our eyes on the golden prize. According to Mark Manson, the most important question we can ask ourselves is, “What pain do [we] want?” In other words, “What are [we] willing to suffer for?” If we do not have a deep desire to put in the hard work and suffer along the path to success, then maybe we do not want it that badly. Our fire in the belly is the barometer that measures how badly we want that eureka moment. In the end, we must also ensure that we are not forfeiting layup shots that life has already nicely positioned us for us to succeed because we cannot be bothered to get our hands dirty and dig for success.
- Curiosity only kills cats. When success evades us the missing ingredient tends to be intellectual curiosity. The key to finding anything is to be curious enough to diligently look for it. We live in an age where getting access to information is becoming as easy as breathing. Intellectual curiosity is the salt that flavors our lives with success. It is what enables us to leverage free information to our advantage. By intellectual curiosity I don’t mean having multiple college degrees. I simply mean knowing what we don’t know and being smart enough to abate our knowledge gaps with readily available information. We don’t have to know everything. We simply have to know the things that will maximize our ability to dig for success. People who are successful tend to be experts who know one particular thing more than other people. For example, life is about relationships, health, money, spirituality, good conversations, and being law abiding. Some people are fortunate enough to even make a fortune vending their knowledge about these basic things. The media is full of such individuals: Dr. Phil is selling his knowledge about relationships; Dr. Oz is selling his knowledge about health; Suze Orman is selling her knowledge about money; Joel Osteen is selling his knowledge about spirituality; Oprah Winfrey is selling her knowledge about good conversations; and Judge Judy is selling her knowledge about the law. In order to be successful we must be curious enough about a subject matter and become an expert in it. Once we become an expert, then we can maximize our success through strategic marketing. Knowledge is power. Intellectual curiosity is the first step to attaining that power.
- When in doubt wait it out. Impatience is one of the biggest impediments to success. Understandably, we all want to achieve our greatest successes in our prime so that we can enjoy it for as long as we can. One of the most formidable challenges with mining gold is in not knowing where the gold is. This is also our biggest challenge with digging for success. We don’t always know exactly where the success will come from or when we will discover it. Still, we must not fall prey to impatience. There are times when speed, or being the first mover, gives us the advantage; oftentimes, however, success requires enduring patience. Digging for success can be laborious and time consuming. Worst of all, it can be disappointing when we still don’t discover success after investing significant amounts of time and energy. We can learn a lesson in patience from underground hard rock gold miners. They don’t go for a foot or two, then throw their hands up in the air and quit because they did not find any gold. Many miners spend twelve hours or more a day in blisteringly hot mine shafts, as deep as a mile or two into the earth’s crust. Oftentimes, this is done without any great success. Ultimately, a miner’s patience is just as important an element to successful gold mining as his brawn or his elaborate drilling tools. Similarly, there is a lot of patience involved in treading past disappointments and continuing to give our best effort with the hopes that success will arrive. That said, if we are committed to digging for success, then we have no choice but to stay positive and wait it out.
My challenge for you is to ask yourself whether you have invested in the right tools to effectively dig for the success you desire. Also, how badly do you desire the pain that comes with success and how hard are you digging? Moreover, are you curious enough to explore the vast terrains that can lead to success and are you patient enough to endure the potentially long journey? Don’t be overly obsessed if you do not know exactly which spot to start digging for success. It is better to start digging somewhere than to not dig at all. By so doing, you can at least eliminate the inauspicious spots. Best of luck.