“I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don’t want to do so.” – The Alchemist
I’ve been in the Virgin Gorda this past week with my wife Melissa and several others from the Stuck In Customs team. We were invited here by Trey Ratcliff as a thank you for all the effort put in to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. It’s been an amazing trip. I feel blessed to be working for Trey and to be a part of this fun and talented group.
Trey is obviously a very talented and creative artist, writer and entrepreneur. I knew that the moment I first met him in 1995 when we worked together at Andersen Consulting. He was overflowing with ideas and boundless energy.
I began working for Trey full-time this past February. One of the things that stuck out to me the most over these past few months is the misperception that success and fame has all come easy for Trey. I’ve had the benefit of working alongside of Trey as he began his career as a software programmer and now as a photographer and artist. I don’t personally know anyone who puts in more effort and hours than him.
Traveling to beautiful locations is now a part of Trey’s chosen occupation but it is a misunderstanding to think that all he does is take a few photos, posts them for sale and then sits back and enjoys the rest of his day as money flows in. Typically the day starts for Trey well before dawn with a drive to a remote location and his day often ends after midnight processing the photos he captured while everyone else was asleep. The hours in between are filled with phone calls, emails, meetings and exploration of new tools and techniques. He also makes sure that he spends ample amount of quality time with his wife and three children. Then the cycle repeats the next day.
Perfecting a skill and achieving success require tens of thousands of hours of hard work. Trey didn’t just buy a camera and immediately take beautiful photos. He put in thousands of hours alone slowly perfecting his skill. Many people refuse to put in the effort required to achieve their dreams. They lament about being stuck in a dead-end job and jealously label the success of others as pure luck.
Gary Vanderchuck, Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield, Jon Acuff and countless others keep reminding us that there is absolutely no substitute for long hours of hard work. This applies to your career, your health, your faith, your family and your friends. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes to learning a new skill, losing weight, or building meaningful relationships with your Creator and the people you care deeply about.
If you’re not doing what you love then the battle that you must fight and win is within you. Pressfield calls it the War of Art. It is a war worth waging but it may require great sacrifice. You will likely have to give up some things that you love but which are ultimately holding you back from achieving your dreams. It may be an addiction, a habit or even a relationship. Whatever the case may be the war can be won and once you’re on the other side of the pain of change you can enjoy life and live it to the full.