The Long Hard Road to Instant Success

One of my clients emailed me recently, saying “People keep sending me this video. What am I missing?” 

The video featured an attractive young man. He was glib, funny, a bit ironic, and full of confidence. The gist of his message was “Borrow money at 4% and invest it at 8%, and you’ll make a lot of money over your lifetime.”

Oh, yes, and it helps to have $1,000,000 in cash to start with.

Thanks for the tip.

Videos like this are rampant in our hyper-connected age. They tap into that nagging insecurity we feel that somebody somewhere knows a “secret” to success that we don’t. 

As a result, thousands of social media “influencers” are posting more videos like that—as you read this sentence—explaining obvious things in clever ways. 

Watching them talk about their own (supposed) success can spark wishful thinking (or envy). It’s unlikely to bring true success. Enduring success usually only comes when we follow this formula for a long, long time:

Work hard + work smart + keep learning 

“Success” often appears in different forms or stages:

1. Theoretical success. Think of the self-help section in the bookstore. (Remember bookstores?) Or think of all those how-to videos friends keep sending you. “Earn passive income…lose weight…attract others…work just four hours a week…read books without opening the cover.”

Each of these clever pitches has a theory, a plan, a mastermind group, and individual coaching—all available for a monthly charge to your credit card. 

Have you ever seen one of those offers that said, “Don’t pay us until after you’ve earned a bajillion dollars using our plan?”

Me neither.  

2. Impractical success. When the Germans were sinking U.S. ships during World War I, someone asked humorist Will Rogers his advice. He suggested, “If you heated up the Atlantic Ocean, the enemy submarines would rise to the surface and you could capture them.”

When someone asked him how he proposed to “boil the ocean,” he quipped, “I’ve given you the solution. It’s up to you to work out the details!”

A great idea without a practical application isn’t success; it’s merely a daydream. 

3. Problematic success. My family never lets me forget the Christmas I bought a basketball goal for my kids and decided to wait until midnight to “help Santa Claus” put it together. It was bitterly cold and all the pieces didn’t exactly go together like the instructions said they would. Facing all those problems, let’s just say, “the Christmas spirit left me.”

Sometimes the path to success is so fraught with unanticipated problems, it ruins the success part. The cost ends up being greater than the benefit.  

4. Collaborative success. When you have a run-in or two with “problematic success,” you learn the wisdom I heard from Dan Sullivan: If you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before, don’t ask “how?” Ask “who?” 

Find a teacher, coach, advisor, or service provider to help you. With an expert at your side, you’ll gain confidence. You’ll be able to correct things along the way instead of driving your car off into a ditch every time. Having a wise guide invariably leads to a happier ending.

5. Eventual success. This is when true success typically comes—after a long, hard, thoughtful, error-correcting, advice-seeking process. 

It is so tempting to fall for the “just watch this video” shortcut. In fact, I’ve stopped trying to talk people out of it. When asked, I’ll usually say something like, “That’s not what I would do, but if you want to try it, go ahead. All you can lose is everything.” 

That last part is usually a joke. Usually. 

You can watch all the videos you want, looking for easy shortcuts. When you wake up and realize financial success rarely comes quickly or without effort, I’ve got something for you to read.

Email me at and ask for my free, simple-to-understand e-book called “How to Put Money Worries in Your Rear View Mirror – the Financial Freedom Roadmap.” I’ll send it to you right away.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

Scroll to Top
Speak with an Advisor