The Secret of Success

by Tim on July 20, 2011

The real work takes place beneath the surface.

I heard a quote the other day that caused me to think about hard work in a new way.

“The secret of success is to be like a duck – smooth and unruffled on top, but paddling furiously underneath." – author unknown.

Do you ever feel like that? How about those of you trying to hack away at debt? As you are trying to keep things afloat while balancing life, work and family, your feet (beneath the surface) are paddling 100 MPH!

On the surface, a duck looks like he’s not really doing much more than just floating there! However, that duck wouldn’t get anywhere without the work behind the scenes – or under the water in his case.

Some people make success look too easy. When we notice that they have great paying jobs, live in nice homes, drive good cars and have great families, we can get caught up with all the stuff we see on the surface. The problem is that we often don’t get to see the work that it took to get them there. I would also add that the unseen work is most likely ongoing and isn’t a ‘once and done’ thing. There’s a reason behind the success of most people and looking to the duck is a good way to understand how they become successful.

Let things roll off your back

Ducks have an incredible layer of waterproof feathers that keep the interior feathers dry even when they dive completely underwater. The water just beads off their back, which has led people to use this example as encouragement for others to let negative comments and situations ‘roll off your back.’ There’s nothing more discouraging than a person who constantly wears on your ideas and tries to tear you down because they’re jealous of your vision. The best thing you can do is to let their destructive input roll right off of your back. Don’t let someone’s jealousy keep you from being successful. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to criticism – constructive criticism can be very helpful. I’m saying that you should be cautious of those who are always tearing down your ideas and not offering any help – let their comments roll off your back and keep pushing towards your goals.

Keep paddling furiously

The thought of duck feet moving as fast as possible is a great visual for us working towards a goal. Whether you’re trying to pay down debt, save for a home, or start a business, you understand the importance of paddling like no one else. Success doesn’t just happen without hard work. Every step that you take builds on the previous one and leads you to a successful finish. I’m sure there are ducks that have to paddle harder than other ducks to gain momentum, but the key is that each and every one of them paddles.

As you do likewise, you will be working your way toward success.

I want to be like a duck, don’t you?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.

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