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The Secret Ingredient to Success

Many people are looking for the silver bullet of success. They feel like they are always only one secret away from achieving their dreams. I’m here to tell you from experience that the only thing that will change your life is consistent daily action.

Most people do just enough to survive. They do what it takes to get past their pain point, but they make a critical error, they stop doing the activity that was sustaining them. They reach their level of comfort and stop taking action. This becomes a cycle in most people’s lives.

The secret to success is growing yourself and taking consistent daily action. This thought is captured perfectly in Jeff Olsen’s life-changing book, The Slight Edge. In it, he shares a fable about a tough little water hyacinth that wanted to cross a pond.

The story goes…

Once there was a little water hyacinth that grew near the edge of a big pond. It had dreams of seeing the other side of the pond, but when it murmured to itself about these dreams, the water just laughed and lapped at it dismissively. The other side indeed…for a tiny plant that couldn’t even move? Impossible!

The water hyacinth can typically be found floating on the surface of ponds in warm climates around the world, and it is a beautiful plant, with delicate six-petaled flowers that range from purplish blue to lavender to pink. This particular plant was a perfect specimen: very beautiful, very small, and very delicate.

However—and this was something the water didn’t know—the water hyacinth is also one of the most productive plants on earth, with a reproductive rate that astonishes botanists and ecologists. A single plant can produce as many as five thousand seeds, but its preferred method for colonizing a new area is not to cast its seeds to the vagaries of wind and water, but instead to grow by doubling itself, sending out short runner stems that become “daughter plants.”

The first day this little water hyacinth appeared, nobody but the water even noticed it was there. Nobody noticed it on the second day either, as it doubled, nor on the third or the fourth, as it doubled again and then once more.


It was so insignificant, in fact, that for the first two weeks, even though it doubled in size every day, you would have had to search hard to see it at all.

By day 15, it had reproduced to cover barely one square foot of water, a tiny dollop of lavender-pink dotting the pond’s glassy green surface. On day 20, two-thirds of the way through the month, one person passing by the pond noticed the little patch of foliage floating off to the side, but mistook it for a lost bath towel or perhaps a discarded piece of wrapping paper.

More than a week later, on day 29, half the pond’s surface was still open water. And on day 30, just twenty-four hours later, the water’s surface had totally disappeared. The entire pond had been overtaken by a rich blanket of purple-pink water hyacinth.

What about you? How far can you grow? Are you holding yourself back? Like the water hyacinth, you have everything you need to be successful inside of you. It is built right into your DNA. The odds are that you know what you need to do to be successful. You just need to do it and keep doing it.

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