What’s the difference between success and failure?

You cannot be strong in the big, important things if you are weak in the little things.
Ralph Martson
1955 –

What’s the difference between success and failure? What separates the financially independent from those living paycheck to paycheck? What determines who is out of shape and who is physically fit?

Think about those questions for a moment. Before I reveal the difference, let me tell you some of the wrong answers: one’s intelligence quotient; one’s alma mater; advanced educational degrees; family wealth.

Surprised? The answer may surprise you even more. The real difference between success and failure is in the little things.

I know your instinct is to deny that answer, but it’s the truth. So let me explain why there’s very little difference between success and failure, financial comfort and financial stress, being out of shape or being physically fit.

However you measure success, the very successful people developed the habit of consistently doing small things that eventually made a big difference in their lives.

People don’t become successful overnight. Unless you’re extremely lucky and win the lottery, financial well being is a long term process, just as your health and physical fitness are the result of your long term lifestyle.

Let’s say you wanted to make substantial improvements in your life. What are some of the small things you could do? You could start by reading good books for 15 to 30 minutes a day. That’s simple and easy. You can find a great collection of books at the public library or on the Internet. If you have a handicap that makes reading difficult, there are plenty of free audio books available from the same sources.

If you want to improve your financial situation, take a look at some of your spending habits. I can say with a high degree of certainty that most people spend a small amount of money each week on things that aren’t completely necessary. Let’s take Starbucks as an example. One improvement would be to reduce the amount of money you spend each week on things like coffee drinks, which don’t provide any lasting value; you could get Starbucks less often, order a cheaper drink, or skip the dessert on the side.

Want better health? Develop better eating habits and engage in some form of physical activity, like walking or bike riding. Replace one sugary drink each day with a healthy alternative. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make your changes small, but be consistent.

I think you get the idea. Everyone is capable of forming better habits through small, simple changes.

So what’s the catch? Small changes are easy to skip, to put off for one day, two, or more. No one will be holding you accountable, so it’s tempting to tell yourself that one particular day makes little difference. But each time you accept that excuse, you diminish your overall results — and you make it more likely that you’ll skip again.

If you want to be successful, you need to spend at least 30 minutes a day, each and every day, in self-improvement: reading, listening to audio programs, engaging in meditation. If you want to improve your finances, make sure you aren’t throwing money away on things which have no future value and make sure you’re putting money away for future needs. Want better health? Pay more attention to your food choices and exercise habits.

There truly isn’t much difference between success and failure. The successful consistently do simple things which, over the long term, add up to a huge difference; the people who fare the worst in life take the easy road.

The little things separate success from failure. You can choose to consistently do things which will make a difference in the long run, or you can take the easy path today and pay the price long term. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
Jim Rohn
1930 – 2009

Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor


What’s the difference between success and failure? — 1 Comment

  1. This is such an important lesson! It’s easy to forget that little things can make a big difference when you add them all up.