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Want to Be Really Successful? You Have to Learn 2 Hard Lessons


Growing up, my dad showered me with his business acumen at all times. At the dinner table, in the car, doing work around the house — the lessons and teachable moments never stopped. I had the advantage of round-the-clock learning from a 24/7 entrepreneur. How great is that?

Many days, I would come to work with him at his freight company and watch as he managed and manufactured. When he wasn't getting his hands dirty with work, he was busy talking about it nonstop. He genuinely loved it. There was never a day off for him — which, in turn, meant there was never a day off from teaching me. It was how I learned.

Even when you're done early, you're never really done

One Sunday morning, when I was just a teenager, we were scheduled to unload a bunch of material from one of his trucks. The night before, I decided that I was going to do it myself. I planned to surprise him, and secretly hoped that this would result in some extra rest on Sunday morning, which my dad typically frowned upon.

I unloaded late into the night and finally finished right as the sun was rising. I snuck back into my room and fell right into bed. Shortly after, my dad walked in and said, "I saw you unloaded the truck. Nice work. Let's get moving with the construction."

And out the room he went, expecting me to follow. What I had fantasized about — a day off, for a change — immediately turned into just another day of work. It taught me very quickly that even when you're done early, you're never really done.

Focus on moving the needle, no matter what it takes

There's a lot of talk these days about how many hours you should work. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claims he would work 120 hours per week. It's been reported that he only gets about four hours of sleep per day, and sometimes sleeps at the office or factory.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, recently spoke on the matter of Musk's work schedule, calling it "BS." It's not that he doesn't believe it, but rather that people shouldn't follow it. Dorsey believes in quality over quantity, that how you spend each hour is more important than the number of hours.

The truth is, how many hours you choose to work will depend on how much you want something, and what you want in life. Extreme success requires extreme sacrifice. Yes, the quality of work that you invest in each hour is critical, but the real trick is making sure you're working on the right things. If you want to move mountains at the end of the day, focus on the tasks that move the needle, no matter how small the movement.

To reach a high level of success, you have to work your ass off. That we know, and there's simply no way around it. And the reality is that days off are a rarity when you're trying to reach a high level of success. If hours equals output, the person with the most output usually wins. Simple as that.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want. If you want to disrupt an industry or become a multimillionaire, you'll probably have to bust your ass around the clock. If you're trying to accomplish something great within the confines of a normal workweek, your chances of doing so are slim to none.

Will you do whatever it takes? Ask yourself.

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Joe De Sena is the founder and CEO of Spartan, the world's leading endurance sports and wellness brand. With its 10 million-plus strong community, Spartan creates transformational experiences and products to help people, companies and teams tear down boundaries and expand what they believe possible. De Sena is also the author of "Spartan Up," "Spartan Fit" and "The Spartan Way." He also hosts the Spartan Up! Podcast, which features weekly interviews with some of the world's greatest minds in business, sports and leadership.

The article "How to Be Successful? The Truth Is, Simply Put, Do Whatever It Takes" originally published on

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