Site icon Jacob Robinson

On Success

Here are a few thoughts I have on achieving (and keeping) success.

When it comes to success, the time in which you hit it is variable. But whether you do reach success — that’s determinable. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years trying to define success, much to the chagrin of people who believe success is undefinable. But my method of understanding success had nothing to do with fancy cars or Bali trips — it had more to do with understanding whether there was a certain chance that a person could achieve their Maslow’s hierarchy given they did a specific action. My conclusion was yes — there is always a move. 

There are few things as valuable as pure confidence. For with confidence you can get most if not all social requests. And we live in a social world.

The harder thing usually gives the better reward. It has greater demand, lesser supply, and increased return.

Luck isn’t a structure, it’s an obfuscation. Behind luck, there are hidden processes. Uncover those hidden processes, and you become lucky. Luck is a set of probabilities. Probabilities are a set of events. Events are a set of actions. Of course, this is a simplification — you can’t be expected to derive all these things. But understanding the concept can help.

When you are good to other people, see individual success. When everyone is good to one another, see societal success. People like it when others treat them well. They like it so much, in fact, they tend to treat the person well back. Imagine — what could that look like if it scaled out to everyone? 

Invest in public companies. Look for careers in private ones. Most of us don’t have the luxury of investing in private companies, due to the accredited investor requirement. However, you can still get the headwind indirectly by being part of the company itself. Growth in a firm usually means growth opportunities for those who decided to get a career there. Think outside the box. 

A key piece to success is scouting out opportunities and acting upon the ones with the best value. In life, a good phrase to follow is “say yes until you have to say no”. In other words, take on whatever opportunities that come your way when you’re young — then when you start building up some measure of clout, be much more selective and understand which will give you the most with the least amount of work. 

Productivity is all about matching inputs to outputs. When your inputs (reading, learning) equal your outputs (writing, building), you will experience maximum success. Of course, the input part of this is much easier and faster than the output part, so in practice this looks a little bit different than what the quote seems to imply. Principle still stands. 

The first part of your career has to be you saying yes to a lot of things, then performing those things well. When you get to the point where there are so many things to say yes to that you know for a fact you can’t perform all of them well, then you know to start saying no. This is the foundation of the “say yes until you have to say no” principle, and it is a pretty good rough guide to follow. 

Remember that “making it” doesn’t save you. You can always fall back in the hole. The only difference that finding success brings is that the game of life turns from being offensive to being defensive. It’s true — playing defensively in life is easier than playing the offensive. But plenty of times you get people who spend all their time playing offensively that they get to the top and don’t have any way to protect their wealth or fame or status, and they fall right back down again. Be careful out there. 

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