Ninety Percent of Success Comes Down to the Basics

by Don Smith

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A comment from my personal trainer this morning got me thinking. He was talking about his tough clients who make excuses all the time and just do what they want to do and how that sometimes kills his motivation as he really wants to see them succeed. “Like this guy here,” he added, pointing at me.

We're good friends, so I took it as the jest I *hope* it was. Then again, like most jests, there was a kernel of truth in what he said. If I'm honest with myself, I've let things slide with my own physical health while helping others with theirs. I stopped doing what I need to do outside of the gym to keep the weight off, and I'm above the healthy weight range again.

As I write that sentence, I found myself resisting the urge to write “slightly above the healthy range,” because that's an excuse in and of itself. I've found myself and caught others minimizing problems by indicating that it's not really a problem because it's “just a little” or “just slightly” a problem. No…stop doing that Don. It's a problem, or it's not. There is no “slightly” a problem. Own it, and then fix it.

It's interesting how you can know exactly what needs to be done, yet fail to do it yourself. I've got over a million and a half views on Quora with a large number of those coming from answering questions from the weight loss category. I've created a weight loss course and workout challenge that has helped a ton of people lose weight. I know EXACTLY what I need to do to take and keep the weight off.

I can think up excuses like I work out and am active, so the BMI scale shouldn't really apply to me. In reality, all I have to do is reach down and pinch an inch or two to realize I'm just making excuses and that except for elite athletes which 99% of us are not, it is a reasonably accurate tool. This sort of thing happens to all of us eventually. We get complacent and stop doing the things that got us to where we are, and we even start making excuses as to why we aren't where we should be.

If YOU are not where you want to be, I encourage you to go back to the basics. For example, if you aren't selling things, I almost guarantee it goes back to the basics. Prospecting, creating rapport, exploring needs, creating solutions to people's problems, and closing. Stuff you learned in sales 101. I've lost count of the number of times my mentor has told me that the number one reason sales reps fail is that they stop making calls, which is practically the first thing they learn when they walk in the door.

Over the years, I've seen experienced people fail over and over. They get lazy and stop doing what got them there. That's why you see some marriages fail after a decade or more, they stop dating, taking care of themselves, and making each other feel special. Other couples keep going back to the basics and end up on r/HappyMarriages after living a long, happy life together.

Happily married couple
Go back to the basics to keep your marriage looking like this

Some employees and even business owners get complacent and sloppy, feel entitled, start showing up late, leaving early, not listening to any external advice, and then wonder why they aren't as successful as they once were when any new employee would get fired in their first week for acting that way. Others keep doing the things successful people do day after day and become more and more successful with each passing year.

Many times experience makes it even harder to succeed because then you don't listen to the advice from those around you. It's easy to ignore someone with a fresh perspective by saying things like “I know what to do,” and brush off the fact that what they are really saying is that it's obvious that whatever you are doing isn't working.

You may know precisely what you need to do to be successful as I do with my weight. The thing is, if you know what to do but are struggling, you have to ask yourself, “Am I doing those things?” Are you showing up every day and doing what you need to do to be successful? Woody Allen said, “80% of success is just showing up.” I've found that to be true in my own life. If you are doing those things and are still not being successful, then I think you need to reevaluate whether or not you actually know what to do.

Going back to my weight, I've slipped not because of any lack of knowledge, but because I've failed to follow the basics that I preach to everyone. I'm going to go back to the basics and do what I need to do to get back to a healthy weight. Where do you need to go back to the basics in your life?

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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