Success is the Payoff From Your Focus, Time, and Effort Invested

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Success takes time.

We all know that.

However, I still get caught up in thinking that things will happen overnight.

And the truth is…success takes time. 

The 10,000 hour rule states that success is simply the fruit of hours and hours...and hours of labour. Popularized in Malcolm Galdwell’s best-seller The Tipping Point, the 10,000 hour rule is based on the research of Swedish academic K. Anders Ericsson.

But, I’m impatient by nature.

Often I’ve thought that if I wanted something bad enough - I could have it now.

When I started my freestyle motocross company, Underground FMX Productions, (just six months before breaking my back and changing my course of life forever) I thought I had it dialled. 

I’d gone to a trade show at the Fairmont Hotel in Toronto and came away with what I thought were 15 solid leads. I was on top of the world! Obviously, this was meant to happen and my success was guaranteed!

And then reality hit.

All the “Yes’s” I’d received quickly dropped to one booking - to appear at the Lindsay fairgrounds. 

Unfazed, I thought it was the perfect proving ground.

One toe at a time

After I was paralyzed in 2006 I remember calling my boss (I’d been working as a bricklayer) and asked him to hold a spot for me.

I broke my leg three times before, so I expected rehab and recovery to be a simple process - 4 to 6 weeks and I’d be back to work.

It didn’t occur to me that a broken back and pelvis would take longer than that to heal...

“Don’t rush the process. Trust the process.” - Eric Thomas

When I was learning how to walk again, it took me six weeks to wiggle my first toe. Then a week later I wiggled another toe, then three toes, and three more. Then an ankle, then the other ankle.

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Learning how to walk again was literally one toe at a time.

After spending three days in ICU, nine days in the hospital, four months in rehab, ten months in a wheelchair and two months on crutches, exactly one year to the day I was not only walking, I was even riding again!

But I was suffering painful muscle spasms in my legs. My rehab team and I decided to try Botox injections in my legs to help with spasticity.

The first injection was pretty good, but we (okay, I) wanted more of an effect, so we decided to up the dosage for round two. I wanted results overnight.

The treatment was so powerful it knocked out all of the strength and muscle I had just gained after working so hard. Eighteen months after my injury (and six months after just getting back on my feet again), I was back in the wheelchair.

I had to wait nearly three months for the Botox to wear off, and then it took another three months to come close to gaining back the strength I had worked so hard to develop.

Success is the payoff from your time, focus and effort investment.

Don’t rush the process. Trust the process. 

Everything happens one toe, or one step at a time.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn

When I set my sights on making Team Canada in sledge hockey, I thought for sure that I was going to be able to make the cut for the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics!

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I remember posting on Facebook to make sure I let the whole world know…not appreciating how difficult the journey can be when you’re striving for world-class status.

I was able to speed up the process by surrounding myself with the best players in the world. I practiced with them on a regular basis. But it I didn’t make the cut until after the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. 

Success is the payoff from your time, focus and effort investment.

It was great timing: four players were retiring and I was one of the six new players building the team during the next Olympic cycle. The new kids, like me, got to learn from the veterans and we fed off their experience, leading us to the podium in Sochi.

“It’s better to stay ready than to get ready”. - Will Smith

When I wrote my autobiography, Still Standing: when you have every reason to give up, keep going, I thought I could crank it out in a couple of long writing sessions. 

I took what I’d learned from high performance sports: I knew what dedication will do for me, what extreme laser focus could do for me, what it meant to go “all in on one thing”...

...what could be accomplished when I buckled down and did it.

I was able to write the rough draft of my entire book in 12 weeks.

But then it sat on a digital shelf for nearly four months before I sent it off to be edited.

Then when it came back I took several more weeks to review it.

Success is the payoff from your time, focus and effort investment.

Failure is an experience that lends wisdom, and ultimately makes you stronger. - Elliot Hulse

I’ve drawn great inspiration from Elliot Hulse (click here for a playlist of my favourite videos of Elliot). He went from running inner city fitness camps for youth, using sandbags and blown-out tires, to a global brand that reaches millions of people. 

His YouTube presence is nothing short of remarkable, and he shared his path to success using this graph:

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So that’s his illustration of an “overnight success”. 5 YEARS!

It takes YEARS of hard work under the surface. Lots of mini successes but also…

LOTS OF FAILURES to become an overnight success!

With that in mind, here’s how I’d analyze my journey to success so far:

  • I started riding dirt bikes at the age of 12. But it wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I started to get good at doing FMX tricks. That’s nine years.

  • When I was learning to walk again I was on my feet in one year, but it took nearly four years before I could walk long distances without pain. Today - 13 years later - it would take someone with a very keen eye to figure out I’m a paraplegic. 

  • I got a spot on the Sledge Hockey roster for Team Canada after my third year of training. But I didn’t feel like I’d hit my stride until six years later at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

  • Getting cut from the team was disappointing, but if I hadn’t experienced that “failure” I wouldn’t be on this journey launching the Sledge Hockey Experience. Bringing this sport to able-bodied people and raising awareness for para-sports has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

There is no elevator to success. It’s a set of stairs. 

One toe, and one step at a time.

Sure, there are landings along the way so you can catch your breath and enjoy the view. But you’ll stumble and slip down a few flights from time to time. That’s okay.
Success takes time, lots of patience, and a monumental amount of hard work. 

“Overnight success” takes a relentless commitment to show up every single day and give life your all. To keep climbing.

As Les Brown says, “No matter how bad it is or how bad it gets, I’m going to make it.”

Today, building the Sledge Hockey Experience, I’m having to remind myself of that commitment, that patience to endure the failures along the way while I strive for long-term success.

My journey of entrepreneurship began January 2nd, 2006 when I walked off the job site to start Underground FMX. Sure, I’ve slipped down the stairs a few times, had to keep climbing after a setback…

But I’ll never stop climbing.

There is no overnight success. Success is the payoff from your time, focus and effort investment.

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Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles to help you succeed:

It’s OK to ask for Help!
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Ask The Right Questions And You Will Get The Right Answers.

Kevin Rempel

I help people adopt the mindset about life and people with disabilities that drive results and embrace change.