How to hurdle the greatest barrier to success
By all rights, Orville and Wilbur Wright should have been a footnote in history.
They were outmanned, outsmarted, and outmonied from the get-go. But they had something money can’t buy, intelligence can’t conjure, and power can’t stifle…
What they had is exactly what a coaching client of mine has, who recently sent me an email that contained this:
“I feel a deep drive to begin sharing my story even if I don’t know HOW exactly. I have to begin speaking my truth!”
In this sentiment, she stumbled across one of the greatest secrets to success.
It’s the secret that propelled the Wright brothers to fame.
It’s the same secret that gave Martin Luther King, Jr. the strength to endure threats, harassment, imprisonment, and brutality, which eventually lead to the Civil Rights Act. It’s the secret that drove Louis L’Amour to keep pounding away at the typewriter even after receiving 200 rejection letters, after which he published 105 works and sold over 200 million books.
The secret is this: The “how” is overrated.
Everyone wants to know the how. It’s why “how-to” books fly off the shelves and “how-to” courses sell like hotcakes.
- How to Make Millions in Real Estate
- How to Write and Publish a Bestselling Novel
- How to Launch Your First Profitable Business With No Capital
- How to Build a Stunning Website in 3 Hours or Less
But for every 100 people who study the how-to, I’m guessing that maybe two actually do.
Everyone thinks that what holds them back is their lack of knowledge and experience with the how-to. If only they could learn how to do ______________, then they could experience a breakthrough. Then they could get unstuck and take their life to the next level.
But alas, they don’t know how, and so they quit before they even get started. Ask these people why they didn’t start a project or pursue a dream and the answer is always some variation of, “I just didn’t know how to __________ (build a website, market online, secure capital, write a proposal, break into an industry, etc.).”
Orville and Wilbur Wright didn’t know how to build an airplane. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t know how to secure racial justice. Louis L’Amour didn’t know how to write a novel.
But all of them figured it out, for the same reason my client will figure out her business: They didn’t need the how. All they needed was a “why.”
When you know your “why,” the “how” takes care of itself.
When your why is big enough, you’ll climb over or push through your biggest obstacles. When your why is deep enough, you’ll dig in your trenches for as long as is required. When your why is clear enough, you’ll forge through the darkest trials.
When you tap into your why, you figure out how to make your dream possible, even if it means making mistake after mistake after mistake. You’ll learn whatever how you need to, not by sitting on the sidelines reading books and taking courses, but by getting bloodied and beaten in the arena. You will fall repeatedly, but your why will lift you up time and time again until you conquer.
In the early 1900s, Samuel Pierpont Langley set out to become the first man to pilot an airplane.
He was a senior officer at the Smithsonian Institute and a mathematics professor who had worked at Harvard. He was friends with some of the most powerful men alive, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell.
He was given a $50,000 grant from the War Department — an enormous sum at that time — to build an airplane. He put together a dream team of some of the best minds of the time. He had access to the finest materials and virtually unlimited resources.
A few hundred miles away, Orville and Wilber Wright toiled away quietly in their bicycle shop to build their own flying machine. They had no funding. No connections. No advanced degrees or even a college education.
On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers stole the accomplishment that rightfully should have belonged to to Samuel Langley.
For all that Langley had, the Wrights had something more: a bigger why. Langley wanted fame. With every beat of their passionate hearts, the Wrights simply wanted to fly.
Give me a man with all the how-to knowledge available and a man with big and powerful why, and I’ll bet on the man with the why every time.
What great goal do you yearn to achieve? What dream inspires you? What worthwhile opportunity are you holding back on pursuing because you don’t know how to navigate the journey?
Forget the how. Find your why and plunge into the darkness of the unknown. The how-to light will flash on soon enough.
“I don’t know how” is just an excuse covering up fear. That’s okay; we’re all afraid.
The difference between those who succeed and those who fail isn’t that successful people are braver; it’s that they have tapped into their why.
You’re not a coward and your fear isn’t what will stop you. What will stop you is not knowing your why.