How to make it in this business.

And by this business, I mean any business. Everybody wants to know the secret to being wildly successful (in monetary terms, at least), and sorry, but it’s not a secret. It’s far more depressing. It’s a handful of (sometimes impossibly) difficult and time-consuming steps.

Step One:
Be born to fabulously wealthy and highly-connected parents. If you’ve got this step checked off, there’s no need to read further. You’re going to end up on the right side of the success bell-curve. Barring a newsworthy catastrophe, this is a given.

But, if Step One has proven beyond your abilities (you horrible slacker) then you might try your hand at Steps Two and Three, and hopefully your children will have better luck with Step One.

Step Two:
Pick what you want to be and learn everything about it. No one wakes up one day, fully credentialed, industry-omniscient, and ready to take on an all competition. Sorry. It takes a lot of asking questions and reading books and passing exams. It requires a lot of talking to other people and many years of diligence. If you want to be the best exotic rug cleaner in town, great. If you want to be an ethically ambiguous lawyer in sharkskin loafers, great. If you want to be the only honest mechanic in the tri-state area, more power to you. Just make sure you absolutely adore the path you have chosen. You’ll be walking it, mostly alone, for decades.

Oh, and you’ll need to know a lot more than what your job is: you need to know what all of the peripheral tasks are too. Artists don’t just make art. They need to market it and learn to set elastic pricing and woo clients and negotiate with vendors and handle the tax system. Plumbers don’t just fix pipes, they also need to master the art of the small business, including customer relations and updating the facebook page and understanding the physics of a clogged septic system. Lifeguards need to learn how to evaluate and respond to weather patterns, wave actions, and spontaneous cardiac events.

No job is ever truly simple. Accept this and you will whine less and accomplish more.

Step Three:
Do not abandon your chosen profession. Keep working on all the moving parts of the job. Continue learning the side-skills. Do not let any well-meaning naysayers or magnificently evil meddlers deter you from your chosen path. Do whatever you have to in order to remain skilled, relevant, and creative in all aspects of your chosen field. Defend your destiny, however tedious or dismal it may become.

And there you have it.
Success! It’s no secret, just years and years of dedication to your own, private all-consuming cause. And sure, even if you complete the steps and ascend to the peak of that vocational mountain, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be happy, or wealthy, or even sane.

Good luck out there!

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