The #1 Difference Between Success and Failure

tree success-failurePlanted in the same environment with equal resources and opportunity, one tree thrives (succeeds) while one dies (fails).

Since I’m not a treeologist, I can’t explain it. However, when I walk by these starkly contrasting Colorado pines (still keeping those 43 pounds off!), I’m reminded of the difference between people who find success and those who find failure—even when immersed in the same environment.

It’s this:

People who succeed do the things people who fail won’t and don’t do.

Said another way, success is born of engaging repetitively in the right actions. We call them “good habits”—like these:

  • Skipping the next “Walking Dead” rerun and walking a mile to stay fit.
  • Grabbing an apple and not a Krispy Kreme to keep our weight down.
  • Prospecting by phone—day in, day out—so as to make those sales.
  • Asking people about their lives first, resulting in stronger relationships.
  • Diligently tracking where our money goes to live debt-free.

The line between success and failure is a fine one, for sure. The well-known analogy of boiling water is apt:

At 211 degrees Fahrenheit, H2O is just really hot liquid. Add a single degree and you achieve rousing, roiling action. (Yes, that’s roiling)

Just one additional degree of heat and—boiling!

Just one additional degree of the right behaviors—success!

This power of good habits drives success in all areas of life, but the selling profession provides an outstanding microcosm.

How does one sales’ rep sell with abandon while another sells zip, even when offering the same product with the same pricing in the same marketplace with the same training under the same management.

That’s a lot of sameness. So what could be the difference?

Winning salespeople habitually make calls and send handwritten follow-up notes while their non-winning colleagues habitually make excuses and another Starbucks’ run.

Daughter Molly—whose money-management prowess I wrote about here—stopped by Saturday as she waits for Baby #1 to arrive. Now more than 40 weeks pregnant, she surely “nested” in our kitchen by baking six loaves of banana bread. Waiting for the tasty treat to exit the oven, she waddled (her word not mine) to a stool, climbed up, and covered our island with notebooks, scraps of paper, and receipts.

Opening her laptop to Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar web tool, she went to work managing money.


If you want to thrive—in any area of Money managementlife—here’s my counsel:

Start doing what you already know you should be doing and keep doing it over and over again and—believe you me—success will come.

That fine line between success and failure?

Good habits.

What area of your life are your habits strong and where do you need to develop better ones?

Subscribe to QBQ! blogs by email


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the pep talk, John! I do really well on the managing money part by examining expenses and budget items daily. BUT I don’t always make such good habitual decisions with my diet and exercise. I will use your blog as incentive to get up and go to the gym tomorrow morning. Thanks again for your wise words.

  2. The difference between 211° and 212°?
    Why do you think we have steam engines, not hot water engines?

    Don’t be hot water. Be steam!

    One degree makes the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *