After asking hundreds of interviewees over the past two years what they think the secret to success is, Annie Ridout has come to her own conclusion. And it’s really quite simple. If you want to know the secret, read on…
A little while back, I was having a great day. One of those days that leaves you feeling high. One of those days where the mood is consistently good, energy is flowing in the right direction and everything goes to plan. But not just that: I kept receiving emails and phone calls about amazing work opportunities.
The Guardian called me about being on the panel for a live chat on work-life balance. There is nothing I love discussing more than work/life – how to juggle career, family, hobbies, exercise, me-time and friends without burning out. I said yes, and two days later got stuck in to the online chat.
An hour later, Stylist Magazine called asking if I’d be up for speaking at the Stylist Live event this November in Olympia. They are expecting 20,000 people to come over the weekend. They asked if I’d like to be involved on a talk about successful women and their morning routines. Again, mornings are my thing. I’m obsessed with them. I said yes. (And this one is a well-paid gig, too).
A while later, I had an email from Red Magazine. The feature I’d written on ‘Real Sex’ was going into their November issue. They wanted to pay me in advance. This article, I’d written with a two-week-old baby sprawled on my chest. I’d read a 200-page book, interviewed the authors and ordered my thoughts into a 1500-word piece. It felt like the biggest achievement. So when I didn’t see it in the July issue, I was disappointed. Now I knew it was going to be used, the excitement returned.
Then towards the end of the evening, my old boss who has developed a BRILLIANT app for women, said that she’d not only like me to write all the copy for the app and comms, but also to help with the PR. I’ve aciphex over the counter been keen to do a bit more PR for other people for a while – so this felt like a big door opening. Again, it pays well.
I also secured an additional BabyCentre blog each week. This is my bread and butter income and I love researching and coming up with ideas for these blog posts. Writing two a week would be additional income, while doing more of what I really enjoy doing already.
That evening, my husband returned from work and I was ecstatic. I told him about my high-energy day – the two kids had behaved brilliantly, and I’d had all these exciting job offers. I told him that the universe was giving back – I’d asked and was now receiving.
He said I was wrong.
That it wasn’t the universe creating these opportunities.
He said that it was my hard work paying off.
The hours of unpaid work, the overtime, the self-promotion, the networking, the loyalty, the dedication, the not-giving-up. And I realised he’s right. I realised that no one has brought these opportunities to me; I’ve brought them to myself – via years of toil and graft.
Success means different things to different people. To me, right now, it’s being contacted and commissioned, rather than sending out dozens of pitches and not hearing back. It means earning enough money to support myself – and contribute to the family fund – while looking after a baby full time, and a toddler nearly full time (she’s in nursery two days a week).
For someone else, it’s earning their first million pounds. Or their first billion. Or being published. Or scoring the winning goal. Or being a full time parent and seeing their children flourish physically, emotionally, linguistically. Or teaching a class of children to read. Or practising healing therapies.
Whatever success means to you, there’s one simple secret that will lead to achieving it…
The secret to success? It’s hard work. That’s all.
Do you agree – or do you think success only comes to certain people?
Photo credit: Emily Gray Photography