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MONEY

Success is a Marathon

The key to success is sometimes just the willingness to put one foot in front of the other one more time. Here's how I do it.

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I have ten marathons under my belt, including four New York races and one Boston.  When you are running a grueling race with thousands of people, for the most part it doesn’t matter where in the pack you finish.  What matters is simply that you finish.  It’s all about persistence.

            Even the elite runners – those who make the 26.2-mile trek in a little over two hours – have to convince themselves to take the next stride.  Imagine how a runner who is still at it after four or five hours feels!  Then think about the rush that comes when the finish line is in sight.  

            The difference between those who finish and those who give up lies in the old axiom that successful people do those things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do.  Successful people have the determination, the will, the focus, the drive to complete the tough jobs – like running a marathon.  Or launching a business.

            You may recall the story about when I was starting out, and asked a colleague I respected how many calls he would make on a prospect before giving up.  He told me:  “It depends on which one of us dies first.”

        Keeping your eye on the prize is usually easier said than done.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the demands of a long-term project.  Here’s how I stay motivated.

  • Focus on what you can accomplish rather than the obstacles that stand in front of you.  Direct your energy toward achieving a goal, and tackle the problems with an emphasis on edging closer to a successful result.
  • When you identify a roadblock, develop a realistic plan to overcome it.
  • Work with your colleagues or employees to make it easy for them to say yes to your requests.  Provide options so they can contribute to the best of their abilities.
  • Never ask them to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. That is the essence of leadership.
  • Be assertive without being aggressive.  Set the direction and take responsibility for results.
  • To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up.

            Persistence and determination are what keep us hammering away.  I’ve known entrepreneurs who were not great salespeople, or didn’t know how to code, or were not particularly charismatic leaders. But I don’t know of any entrepreneurs who have achieved any level of success without persistence and determination.

  When you have a dream that you can’t let go of, trust your instincts and pursue it. But remember: Real dreams take work, They take patience, and sometimes they require
you to dig down very deep. Be sure you’re willing to do that.

 Mackay’s Moral:  Instead of giving myself reasons why I can't, I give myself reasons why I can.

Last updated: Apr 3, 2012

HARVEY MACKAY, author of The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World, is founder of the MackayMitchell Envelope Co. He has written six bestsellers, including Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.
@HarveyMackay




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