The Single Most Importance Piece of Advice You’ll Ever Hear

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The Single Most Important Advice

Aren’t you tired of things never going your way?

You’re stuck in a dead-end job because you’re afraid you’re not qualified enough to get something better.

You deal with being alone because you think you’re not interesting enough to attract high quality friends or a significant other.

You run the opposite direction anytime an opportunity presents itself because you’ll waste your time looking like a fool if it falls flat.

Then you stop believing in accomplishing dreams. You stop trying.

Do you really want to know how to get anything you want?

Imagine that in every moment and opportunity you strive for, you are competing against thousands of other people. It will force you to become tremendously creative in your approach.

Seriously, that is what I do every time I desperately want something. Every time I want to change the position I’m in. It works and I wish I had figured that out much sooner than I did.

When I started this website I knew that the personal development niche was supersaturated. I told myself that because there’s tons of competition then I’d have to bust my ass to stand out.

It made me work harder than everyone else and that’s why this site is growing the way it is. It’s why I do things that I know will create results while others are passively treating their blog like a side gig. Forget being passive because this is a competition.

When I first went after three internships I was intimidated because I never worked a day in my life and I didn’t have a resume. I kept picturing dozens of other students typing a golden cover letter and beating me. Maybe they have more experience or my application would be unappealing.

So I taught myself tons of marketable skills and learned how to present myself. Then I skipped the process altogether when I called up all three of the companies I wanted to work with and got them all before anyone else could. Screw applications or “playing fair” because this is a competition.

When I applied for my first scholarship I knew that there’d be several others going for the same one. Realistically, I understood there wouldn’t be thousands, or even hundreds, but in my head I imagined that it was a competition between myself and others more qualified than I am.

So I hustled, got a glowing letter of recommendation, and won that scholarship after presenting in front of the scholarship committee. Abandon half-assing because this is a competition.

Don't half-ass things, courtesy of Ron Swanson

When I first stumbled on my dream job I told myself no way I could get that gig because there has to be people who have decades of experiences ahead of me. Plus, I was a 19-year old college student, so what were the odds of me getting the position?

That motivated me to think outside the box because I was competing against titans. Then I got the dream job and dropped out of college after I got millionaires to support me on video (which itself was a challenge.) Ignore the unlikely odds because this is a competition.

Things used to never go my way. I always either ran the other way before the race began or I sloppily did things. It’s no wonder my buddies and I in high school used to joke that I was a “try-soft.” I never put effort into anything.

Now I always compete and picture that I’m in the Olympics. I haven’t lost many races since then. Things have been going my way since January 23, 2013.

I’m almost undefeated now.

Sure, sometimes I fail. For example, I haven’t had a post picked up by Lifehacker.com before even though I’ve reached out to them several times. Neither have I ever written for Buffer’s blog yet because the topics I’ve chosen didn’t quite fit what they were looking for.

I also got declined by another blog back when I first started guest posting after I pitched a topic on rejection (the irony.)

But hell, you always get back up and win more despite how hard you fall. You have to get creative to get what you want with a ton of persistence. You have to keep in mind that you’re constantly competing anytime you go after something so losing isn’t an option.

You’re going against the world, 7 billion and more.

How are you going to stand out and get what you want if you half-ass things?

In almost any situation you’re going to have to show people why they want you. Prove it to them. Make them truly invest in you and nod their head in agreement with everything you have to say.

You have to make it clear that you’re better even if you aren’t. People look to invest in other people, so show them you’re the one ahead of the race even if you’re not necessarily the fastest. That doesn’t make sense? Read it again.

There’s no other method or thought that moves me more.

Picture it.

Seriously, close your eyes and imagine the details as realistically as you can. Thousands of other people who are better than you but desperately trying to beat you. Kick their ass. All of them.

Everyone in that competition is just as motivated as you are and even more talented than you. Even if you don’t think that’s true you have to make that a reality in your head. It will drive you further than any book will. It’ll force you to get creative and figure out a way to kick ass.

Stuck in a dead-end job? Look for something that seems impossible for you to get and picture you’re in that race.

Don’t want to be single forever? Work on becoming someone that everyone wants to be with because there’s tons of people going after that dream guy/girl you’re after too.

Tired of running away? Start using that fear of failure motivate you to the point where you get so creative that failure seems like a 1% chance.

That’s how you stop losing and ultimately become undefeated.

If you don’t want to keep winning and you’re okay with not getting what you want then ignore my advice. Ignore it all and keep reading articles instead of implementing what you learn.

But if you want to get anything and everything then… Well, you know what to do.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers, he dropped out of college and began living a location independent lifestyle (still always drawn to coffee shops though.) Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

42 responses to The Single Most Importance Piece of Advice You’ll Ever Hear

  1. I agree with your post in many ways. I’m not as competitive as you. I compete more with myself than others. I think there’s something to be said for that. Always reaching to a higher level of creative work, art, writing, teaching, parenting.

    I love your sense of confidence. Although mine is not lacking, I am not as bold as you. But I’m older and my motives are different at this age. Blogging, while not completely passive, must not overtake other areas of my life. And so I consciously hold back in order to focus on writing, teaching, family, etc. But I still continually, (with less technical savvy) move forward, if only at a more moderate speed.

    Keep it up, Vincent.

    • That’s quite alright, Dan! This post is to kick into high gear those who lack direction and motivation, a place I was in not too long ago. You’re on the right path so this may not apply to you as much as it would someone else. :)

      Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. ACTION FTW!!!

    Definitely agree bro. The amount of work you put into something will determine the result you get from it. If you choose to half-ass things, nothing will ever happen. But if you devote fully to one thing your brain operates on a different level. You see opportunities and creative solutions that you couldn’t see before.

    Keep winning your race man :)

    • You too, Kevin! You’re definitely someone sprinting ahead of the competition right now. Keep that momentum up because you’re inspiring a lot of people. :)

      • I agree x 10,000%! One of the things that’s the most frustrating to see is when someone expects a ton of results from doing just a bit of work. Sure, a big part of the “success equation” is to find the highest-leverage things to focus on, but so much of it is putting in the time and hard work.

        I agree that both of you gents are definitely on the right track! Keep up the stellar writing, both of ‘ya!

  3. Vincent,

    Absolutely! If you are going to do something you have to give it that 100% effort. No half-assing allowed! There is a lot to do in life to be successful, and without hard work, positivity, confidence, networking and taking advantage of every opportunity you get, it can be very tough to make it.

    -SJ

  4. Vincent,

    That advice really speaks to me. When I first left my job, I had countless ideas for businesses, blogs, and side projects. Not only that, but I had hobbies and other thing to deal with.

    The result was that I spent a few weeks on a project, didn’t see quick results, abandoned it, and tried something else.

    No true success happens overnight and unless you are committed to an idea, you will wander aimlessly from one shiny thing to the next.

    The biggest thing I’ve learned in the past couple months is the power of true focus, dedication, and persistence. If you want to accomplish something you have to be able to focus and eliminate distractions. You also need a driving force or source of motivation to keep you going.

    • I can tell you’ve definitely figured out important lessons some of us may never fully understand for ourselves. I just read your article on your 3-week vacation and was inspired.

      It took a lot of courage to quit your job like you did and begin to focus on passion. Keep going, Scott!

  5. I don’t really like the “don’t wanna be single forever” advice because I believe that if you “work towards” not being single, you will ultimately settle. And when you settle, it may take some time… but things will go to shit. And the “dream girl/guy” is most likely an illusion you created on your own, given that you haven’t seen what they’re actually like in a relationship not to mention just how they really are in general

    But definitely, work towards being someone who has unlimited options to choose from. Not only in what kind of job you want, but women, hobbies whether or not you want to be president.. etc.

    See I’m competitive at heart, very much so. But I spent the last 15 years suppressing that part of me because I felt that it is irrational… but winning at life is a goal that I can invest myself in 100%.

    I’m going to try a more unique approach to applying for this awesome internship.. if I get it, I might have you to thank. Peace!

    • Oh, I never advocate settling or “trying” to win over the perfect S/O. I included that because I know there are a lot of people out there who will be stuck in that mode no matter what you tell them. Check out my article I did for The Dating Specialist called 5 Reasons to Be Happy You’re Single.

      I didn’t want to expand on that too much in this article but here is what I would have liked to say:

      Don’t want to be single forever? You won’t if you focus on making yourself the best person you can be. You don’t have to actively seek that special someone because it usually happens while you’re not looking. It just does. But that day you do happen to meet that person you want to be the best version of yourself possible. You want to be someone that he or she will fall in love with once they realize just how awesome you are.

      Buuut, that wasn’t the focus of this article so I held myself back, heh.

      Best of luck on your internship hunt!

  6. That’s a great way to look at things. I like how you compared it to the Olympics. Motivation is definitely one of the major keys to success and you’ve hit me at the heart with this one :)

    You’re video application was incredibly creative and persuasive and after watching it, it made 100% sense why Justin and Joe chose your application.

    I look forward to reading about how your projects turn out. Thanks for the great post!

    • Glad this article resonated with you, Josh!

    • Self discipline is the key to achievement of anything significant. Motivation is a great start but is emotion based and very fleeting. Motivation usually begins to disappear once an undertaking starts to get difficult or the newness and initial excitement wears off. Self discipline is where it’s at but a lot of people choose not to see that because we’ve been lead to believe that if we’ve lost our passion or motivation then we must be pursuing the wrong goal or it wasn’t really the right “fit” for us.

  7. You’re a machine, man. I expect you to get some shit for this post from those who’d like a free pass to sit on their ass and get something for it. Or from those who think that everyone has a special something to offer the world even if it’s eating a bag of ships on the couch. Competition is a very natural way of allowing the cream to rise to the top as it ought to. We must earn respect, love, acknowledgement and success. No one is entitled. Well done, V!!!

    • Strangely enough, I never seem to get that much crap from people for my writing. I wish I got more, as weird as that sounds!

      • That’s an interesting thought… Would you say competition brought you more than collaboration ever could have? I mean, I’m not a competitive guy per se and I really can’t imagine myself fighting against 1000 other dudes to get what I want – I really wish we lived in a less competitive world and more collaborative world. What do you think?

        • Both work well but I think competition brings more out of you. You can’t always collaborate because the environment isn’t always there so even if you wanted to collaborate, you can’t always.

          Meanwhile if you go with the competition mindset then you can kick yourself into gear at any time.

  8. I needed to hear this! Busy with four new articles for three publications and stressing so much!!

  9. It’s all about striving to be the best you can be. As long as you push yourself to be your absolute best, then you will get what you want. If you half-ass it, you are going to miss out on a lot of great things.

  10. Hi Vincent,
    So calling for a job rather than filling an application actually works? I’m surprised.. I’ll need to try this out next time ;-)
    Now I want to know how you got Micheal Hyatt, Neil Patel and others to make a quick testimonial video for you… that’s amazing! Well done!
    Nicolas.

  11. Great article as always Vincent,

    You’re right in saying it’s a competition. But I think the key to focus on is the angle of your message that your blog brings as opposed to all the other ones that are already out there. It’s what i’m focusing on at the moment because there are simply far too many personal development blogs out there that it requires you to stand out in some way.

    I’ve never really been much into competition as I found that in the end, it’s always been with myself. I can feel it every morning when I sit in front of my laptop getting ready to write. What Steven Pressfield calls ‘The Muse’ in his awesome book ‘The War of Art’. Every day is a battle to be won.

    In addition, the daily question I keep asking myself whether what I’m doing on my blog is ‘me’. Does it convey my personality and character? Can the reader connect with the real me or just the words in the article?

    But as a whole, It’s never brought me satisfaction knowing that I beat someone as it was simply an ego thing.

    Ultimately, the best satisfaction you can ever get is in the knowledge that you did something to grow on a daily basis. In this case, seeing your blog grow from where it started in January to where it is now, leading you to your dream job. A massive achievement mate.

    Your creativity made you see the logical path to building a successful blog. A natural skill that has allowed you to do in 7 months what most other bloggers would theoretically do in at least 2 years. It goes to show how thinking outside the box is crucial when it comes to business and blogging.

    It’s been awesome seeing your blog grow dude :)

    • Hah, someone just recently mentioned that book to me. That means I’ve got to check it out now!

      Actually, it’s rarely an ego thing. It’s something I use to kick myself into high gear. I don’t care that I beat them out, but I do care that I got the results I wanted. So the whole idea of treating things like competition is to force yourself to do anything it takes to get to where you need to be.

      Hope that makes sense! :)

      • Yeah that makes sense.
        It reminds me of the things my Martial Arts instructor would often say about how having a high standard in class would help motivate you to put on your ‘A Game’ and step up.

        I suppose that’s why it’s cool to have healthy competition, because you look at what everyone else is doing and it makes you think – “I need to work harder to keep up”.

        Thanks for commenting on my book bro. Was a lot of hard work but finally got there in the end. Looking forward to reading yours, once you’ve written it ;)

  12. The most important advice I got to get whatever I want is three-fold:

    1. Compete with yourself (and set a higher bar than anybody else would for you)
    2. “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar
    3. “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” — Oprah Winfrey

    Creating insane value, helping others get what they want, and focus has always served me well.

  13. Hey Vince! I felt strongly like you were talking to me when you mentioned about bloggers treating their blogs like side gigs! That hits me straight. You are definitely a model in the blogging space and one thing I learned about success – is ‘ copy shamelessly ‘ (at least the efforts and patience) of those before you :)

    • Exactly! Copy shamelessly indeed. Why start from scratch and try to figure out all the hard pieces when others already have placed the groundwork? Get down the basics, learn how others do things, and then branch off with your own experiments. :)

  14. I think you’re onto something here, and I’m trying to figure out exactly what – but I have to disagree about seeing things as a competition…I used to do this and I ran my health into the ground with a fanatical devotion to my work. It cost me 3 years of my life, relationships, my mental health, and more.

    There’s gotta be some sort of middle ground where you can leverage that motivational impulse without suffering the downsides, but I’ve yet to figure it out. Thoughts?

    • The middle ground is knowing when and how to turn it off. The competition mode is for goals and dreams.

      There are people who are competitive by nature and they are generally bad sports. Can you tell me more about how it affected your relationships and mental health?

  15. I love your advice here. Competition is everywhere, you have to use it. Instead of being intimidated by it, embrace it and make yourself into a better person.

    I do something similar to what you suggest. Instead of thinking about all the people you’re competing against, I think of one person. I think of a person who is my direct competitor. Then I ask what I need to do in order to beat him. If I don’t do my best, he will win. It’s been something that’s kept my motivation up.

  16. Soo true . . . it is through hard work that one can enjoy success. I still struggle with being motivated to achieve the things I want to, but I am getting there slowly but surely.

    Thanks for sharing Victor, I love your blog!

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