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A “Trick” to Improve Your Odds of Success (with Anything)

July 2, 2013

How can you tell if a new venture is going to be successful ahead of time?


Why do some people succeed while others fail?

In my years working with musicians, I’ve noticed a single “predictor” of music business success that allows me to tell whether somebody will ultimately be successful or not, but it was only this past weekend that I saw a related study that backs up my observations. The study had to do with students attending community college.

Many community colleges have a hard time with student retention. In other words, students start, but don’t stick around very long.

Does this issue have something to do with open enrollment? The fact that almost anybody can attend community college? That was the theory.

So community college students as well as students attending traditional universities, which have much stricter admittance guidelines were studied…

As it turns out, retention rates at community colleges have little to do with open enrollment, money, or domestic issues. The issue is about identity – how the students perceive themselves.

When somebody asks about who you are, what do you say?

For students at a community college, “college student” was way down on the list, around seven or eight, behind other identifiers, such as what the student did for a living or the status of a relationship.

For students at a traditional university, “college student” was almost always listed in the top three identifiers, and often listed first.

Simply put, those who identified as “college students,” regardless of whether they were enrolled at community colleges or traditional universities, were more likely to continue college.

While I don’t have a study to back this up, it’s been my observation over several years that those who identify as “musicians” are more likely to be successful in the music business. And those who identify as “writers” are more likely to be successful with blogs, books, and other writing projects.

In short, how you identify yourself has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll be successful.

This is a blog about making an impact. It’s about how to get more people to read your writing, listen to your podcast, or otherwise consume your work.

So why post about identity?

Because identity is where everything starts. It’s also the foundation upon which everything is built.

Building on your foundation — that’s the next step.

Calling yourself a musician, or a blogger, or a writer, or a broadcaster, or whatever else is only a start. For longterm success, you have to back your words with action, so your identity is truly internalized.

Don’t be the guy at the bar who calls himself a writer and spends more time talking about the book he’s going to write than actually writing it. While you might fool other people into thinking you’re a writer, the only way you’ll convince yourself is to actually pick up a pen, or typewriter, or word processor, and put the time in. That’s what writers do. Just like musicians make music. Just like broadcasters record.

Don’t wait. You may not have a publisher, but these days, you don’t need a publisher. You don’t need a record deal. You don’t need a radio station.

You have everything you need to make the impact you want, so long as you’re willing to own your identity and back it up with solid work.

Start where you are. Type it up and put it on a blog. Play it and post it on YouTube. Release your recordings via podcast.

Whatever you do, do it. And when people ask who you are, tell them, “I’m ___________” and then show them what you’ve created. When you do these things, the success and impact emerge automatically.

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