“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.”
– J. Paul Getty
Yesterday morning was my first day back at school.
At the beginning of one of my classes, the professor lectured us about a study claiming over 60 percent of students were unprepared for college. “Pardon my language,” the professor said: “But this is bullsh*t.” He then proceeded to tell us that almost every class the school offered, with maybe one or two exceptions, could be passed by simply doing four things. Walking to the white board, he wrote out each of the four keys to academic success, they read as follows:
- Attend every day
- Do the reading
- Take notes
- Ask questions
My professors analysis on what breeds success got me thinking. I soon realized that, for years, these same principles have been guiding me both in and outside of the classroom.
Attend every day: Almost everything I ever failed at was due to the fact that I gave up on it, or skipped out on doing the work. Likewise, all my victories have come from showing up regularly and putting in effort. In high school, I was the worst basketball player who made the team. This happened because the other “bad players,” who were way better than me, all quit in the preseason. I had zero natural aptitude for sports and spent three years on sitting on the bench. Despite this, I never skipped a practice, never had a bad attitude, and put in my best effort. By senior year, I even managed to score a couple points in-game. While hardly a traditional “success story,” the experience did teach me the importance of being persistent.
Do the reading: Attendance comprises 50 percent of success, research makes up the other half. A lot of successful people have come before you, study their actions. It will greatly advance you down the path of success. Even with activities that don’t seem like they’d require a lot of research (i.e. weightlifting) I’ve found that by studying the work of others, I can learn tons of useful information and see better results from my own actions.
Take notes: Journaling is one of the best insurances against failure. By writing down your actions, you can easily reference past events and how you dealt with them. I’ve recommend that everyone start two journals, one for work and the other for personal life.
Ask questions: While reading books is great, it’s also important to seek advice from actual people. While he may not be Warren Buffet, my uncle is a very successful entrepreneur who is happy to answer my business questions. And, unlike Warren Buffet (who in all likelihood wouldn’t be returning any of my calls), is more than willing to set aside time to help solve a problem.
I personally believe that these four actions truly are the keys to success. And, so that I’ll never forget, I’ve written them down and hung them up all over my room.
Here’s to a semester of all A’s.