I think a little too often about flossing my teeth. It’s a really unfun thing to do. No one gives you a medal for doing it. People rarely talk about it (for good reason). And yet, it’s an interesting way to think about success.
When you floss your teeth, it’s something you do for a few minutes a day that keeps your teeth clean and your gums strong. If you do it every day for two months and then stop doing it for a few weeks, your gums will grow weaker and there will be stuff all caught in there, and the overall health of your mouth will all get worse rather quickly.
What does this have to do with success?
Success Is a Daily Practice and Is Rarely Sexy Unto Itself
Success, near as I can tell, comes from daily effort. I write daily (be it for this blog or for my new book with Julien Smith, for articles for Entrepreneur Magazine or Success magazine, or for other projects like my blog topics newsletter. Writing has become a practice. The more I do it, the better I get. It’s not always sexy, and it’s not always fun, but it’s what I do to accomplish some of my goals.
Success in health is the same way. Jacqueline and I are doing the 30 Days of Paleo (affiliate link) project, and that requires eating right for every meal (I fudged just a bit around Thanksgiving, I’ll admit). If I worked on eating right “most” of the time, that would deteriorate into “some” of the time and then probably fall back into “not much at all.”
The Opposite Of Success Isn’t Failure
To me, the opposite of success isn’t failure. The opposite of success is entropy. Because we quite often lose hold of success only when we let our constant progress decay and fall apart. When I slow down on my fitness, I get flabby quickly. When I stop writing every day, it gets harder to pick it up again. When I don’t keep up with email and contacts, it falls away fast.
Entropy is the enemy. Letting things slip. Falling back into where we were before. That’s the bad guy.
Success Is the Practice
We mistake “shiny glamour” with “success” all the time. Shiny glamour is a byproduct of success. You can have a fancy car, but that usually comes from hard work (or rich loved ones – who likely worked hard at one point). You can have a great physique, but that takes work (rich people can’t help you as much with this, except to hire you trainers and personal cooks). Success is the practice part. It’s doing the work to get better and better. It’s the sweat no one sees. It’s the work of drudgery and repetition and yes, success is the practice of moving past failure, and pushing into that next opportunity for success.
Three Cheers for Practice! Three Cheers for Flossing
Flossing isn’t sexy. Running in the rain isn’t sexy. Eating more broccoli and less chocolate molten lava cake is very definitely not sexy. Practice isn’t sexy. But success is practice. Success is doing what needs doing every day. Success is the root system for all the shiny glamour you might be lucky enough to get in life. And success, my friends, is a wonderful practice in and of itself.
Who’s with me?