Hard Work Is Your Only True Path To Success

Easy is a trap. Only hard work leads to real success.

If you’re new, Work In Progress is a betterletter all about forever improvement for everyday entrepreneurs. The one and only goal is for you to be better each time you read.

Hard work is your only true path to success.

👊 The Punch List:

  • Success isn’t a result of being the best, but rather a result of standing out from the rest.

  • Successful ideas, products, and companies breed imitation, not competition.

  • The harder something is to accomplish, the less people imitate it, and even less so successfully.

  • When you accomplish hard tasks, you ultimately succeed in 3 ways.

Easy is a trap. Only hard work leads to real success.

To succeed is to stand out from the average

When we think about success it’s often an arbitrary number, goal, or milestone. But why is one million customers successful to my startup, but would be a horrible failure for a company like Netflix?.. Because success is relative. It’s about standing out from the “average” and being perceived as special. In a club, success is hanging in a section near Drake, in the world of startups it’s reaching a billion dollar valuation.

True success is when you are reasonably better, further, or different than the average.

Real world examples include Robinhood, an investment app that was fast, free, and extremely popular to millennials, just by standing out from boring traditional investment companies.

Humans are designed to imitate everything

The mere existence of “trends” is a testament to the mimetic nature of humans. As humans, we imitate others quickly, from fidget spinners, to quiet quitting and everything in-between. The same goes for entrepreneurs and founders. The trend in business right now is all things AI. But as quickly as it came is as quickly as it can go.

The more successful your project, the more copycats that will pop up out of nowhere.

Real world examples include Uber who has been copied incessantly by Didi, Lyft, Doordash, Grab, and many more.

Humans struggle to imitate that which is difficult

The only limitation to what others copy, is effort and sacrifice. The harder the project is, the less likely others will attempt to copy it. Yes humans are mimetic, but don’t underestimate our level of laziness. This means when you do work that is innately hard, you protect yourself from an endless supply of imitators. Not to mention, the harder the project, the more likely those imitators will fail.

Hard work is how real entrepreneurs protect themselves from copypreneurs. That and plain old legal patents.

Real world examples include hard to copy businesses like Palantir and Anduril. Which both deal with military data and defense weapons, respectively.

When you accomplish hard tasks, you succeed in 3 ways

Success through bravery: People admire those who are brave enough to try the hard things…because many of us would not. A startup like SpaceX found success from its big, bold, vision. Big wins come from brave entrepreneurs.

“When the idea is big enough and edgy enough — it’s either madness or genius. What you are trying to figure out is which one.”

Reid Hoffman

Success through rarity: Accomplishing hard things is rare. And the rarer something is, the more valuable and successful it is by nature. Ideas like PokemonGo and Bitcoin found lots of success from purely being so much more unique than everything else.

Success through knowledge: When you succeed or fail at hard work, you gain so much more knowledge than those who take the easy path. Failed startups like MoviePass and Quibi succeeded through the invaluable lessons they learned along the way.

All in all, there’s only one lesson to takeaway here… Hard work is no longer optional. When your work is easy, unchallenging, and primitive in nature, you should be concerned. There is limited upside in doing work that everyone else can, and eventually will, do. And if you do find success in easy work, rest assured copycats will guarantee it’s short lived.

Today, hard work is your only true path to success. It’s a slower, longer, and more treacherous path, but the rewards are always worth it. Tackling hard work will cultivate your inner bravery, lead to rarer accomplishments, and reveal years of specialized wisdom.

With so many exciting technologies and novel problems, there’s a lot we can work on these days. But all work isn’t made equal. And as WIPs, the progress we make is only as valuable as the work we choose to take on. So never back down from a challenge, and never say never. Hard work is hard to ignore.

In progress,


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