How To Become an Accidental Success

I was talking to an entrepreneur the other day. He asked me how I first got my business off the ground.

I told him it happened by accident.

I think he thought I was trying to be humble. (I wasn’t.) He tried to reassure me that I was a smart guy and must have had a plan.

Nope. No plan. Not at first anyway.

I told him I didn’t know what I was doing at first. That I could see the challenge right in front of me, but not the one behind it.And when I met the challenge in front of me, it would be replaced by a new challenge.  So, I just did that for a few years.

It’s a bit like climbing a hill. You climb one, and when you get to the top, you can see another hill that had been hidden behind the first one. It’s not your fault you didn’t know about the next hill. When you get to the top of the second one, you’ll see the third. Behind that, there’s another one.

Maybe you do that. Maybe keep climbing the hill in front of you, and you end up discovering a wonderful oasis.

How did you know it would be there? You didn’t.

How did you find it? By climbing the hill in front of you.

If you want to become an accidental success, you have to stay in motion.

Forget About Having a Plan

Maybe you’d rather have a plan? I’ll admit that it’s nice to have a plan. It’s comforting and gives you something to focus on.

If you have one, that’s fine. Just don’t be too rigid about it, because everything will NOT go according to plan. Being able to adapt is much more important than having a good plan.

And if you don’t have a plan, that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with having something good happen by accident. It does not diminish you.

You can still get started without a plan.

All you need to do is figure out what that first hill is, and then climb it.

How do you know which direction to go? I bet you already know. When you look at your life, you know where it hurts, and you know what you want.

Just take a step away from something you want less of, or toward something you want more of.

Try it for a month and you’ll probably be on top of the first hill. From there, you’ll be able to see your path.

Do It As An Experiment

The real secret is to treat everything as an experiment.

It takes a little courage to try something without knowing what the outcome will be. But you can’t fail at an experiment, so what do you really have to lose?

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  1. This is true. I didn’t have a plan either, I just started doing stuff and the deals that worked out I did more of and stopped doing the other ones. I got to the point where most of the deals were working out and hired some people to help me do deals. These days I focus on building systems to help others in my company do more deals.

    Was there luck? Yes, probably. But I like to think I would have kept trying stuff until I found something that worked out, meaning my “success” so far a is more a factor of time and a willingness to try things rather than luck, planning, ability, connections or a pre-meditated approach to life.

    The same people who questioned why I would stay at home on Fridays trying things for weeks and months on end now line up to tell me why they would never be able to recreate what I have. They see the systems, the numbers, the branding, the results… none of that shit matters in the beginning. The only way is to try something out. Don’t ask for permission. Don’t take a course. Don’t go back to school or over think things. Just do it now and see what happens.

    • Nick, your advice is so perfect. It’s better than anything I wrote in this post.

      “Try something out. Don’t ask for permission. Just do it now and see what happens.”

      Congrats on your accidental success. 🙂

  2. Excellent insight!

  3. Great advice John ;). For me it really helps to think of things as an experiment. My personality tries to make things permanent. If I make a decision, it’s forever. I’ve got to choose wisely! Experiments on the other hand are temporary by nature, and that distinction helps me a lot.

    Nick, love that advice!

  4. Fantastic post, John! Thanks for the mental kick in the ass – I’ve really been wrestling with any kind of forward motion lately, and this helps me stop over-analysing the hell out of everything, and just freaking get to work on one hill at a time.

    Nick, thanks for giving us all permission to not ask for permission. That’s a critical thing to remember!

  5. I would be skeptical, but John has told me in person the same thing – he didn’t plan his first business, it just sort of “happened.” So his story checks out.

    Other than that, he can’t be trusted. : )

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