I’ve asked a lot of successful people how they did it.

The middling ones regaled me with stories about their brilliant strategic moves, uncanny intuitions, and superhuman endurance.

The great ones had a much simpler and deeper explanation.

They didn’t attribute their success to just “hard work,” like you might expect.

I think we all know that working hard doesn’t guarantee anything. We can look around us in every direction and find people that work plenty hard with little to show for it.

They didn’t chalk it up to extraordinary luck, either.

Sure, there was plenty of serendipity, but there were also great misfortunes.

Instead, they said there was one primary factor that made all the difference in their journeys.

It’s something Albert E.N. Gray wrote about decades ago.

It’s the habit of doing the things that other people simply don’t want to do.

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You know, the things that most of us instinctively dislike, that go against our natural preferences and prejudices.

The hard things, the uncomfortable things, the complicated things, the unexciting things, the exhausting things.

They did them all. Every day, week, month, and year. Without fail.

They didn’t even necessarily learn to like these things, either. They just had a strong enough purpose to ignore their feelings and do them anyway.

They just cared more about achieving satisfactory results than doing things they innately liked to do. Producing desirable outcomes and fulfilling their purposes made it all worthwhile.

Unsuccessful people have that backward.

They care more about the experience of doing the things they like than the results those things produce.

They choose the comfort of mediocrity over the struggles of greatness.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though.

Every one of us can change our behaviors and thereby our habits.

Every one of us can find a purpose strong enough to override our self-defeating natural inclinations.

Every one of us can learn to do the things that failures don’t like to do.

And once we do, we can do a lot more than build a great body. We can build a great life, too.

What’s your take on what it takes to succeed? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!