Couple years ago, the fitness apparel brand Under Armour released a powerful video featuring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
In the video, you see Michael training, sleeping, training more, sweating, putting in long hours in the pool—often in the very early morning before sunrise.
You see him training in a pitch black room—long before his coach gets there to help out. Putting in those practice sessions to refine his stroke. Before dawn. In the dark.
And this is why he’s a legendary champion who holds more Olympic gold medals that any other athlete in history.
Because of the focused, devoted work that he puts in…in the dark.
Because of the hard work that happens when nobody is watching or cheering him on.
Final line of the video:
“It’s what you do in the dark…that puts you in the light.”
If I had a dollar for every time someone says to me, “Susan, all you have to do is post something on Facebook and your program sells out instantly—marketing just seems so ‘easy’ for you.” “You’re so confident and it just comes naturally to you.”
Those people see me “in the light” and they feel irritated, jealous, or discouraged.
What they are not seeing is everything I’ve done “in the dark” when nobody was watching, cheering, or purchasing a damn thing.
What they are not seeing is 11 years of showing up every single day for my online community—getting on camera, posting videos, writing blogs, sending my newsletter, asking people to hire me, relentlessly, even back when my audience was very tiny and it seemed like nobody cared.
What they are not seeing is the thousands of hours of content creation. The risk to my ego and finances that I take every time I invest in one of my own ideas. The 4:15 alarm clock. The 5 am runs outside in the rain or snow. The 7 am smackdowns with weights. The daily journaling, gratitude practice, self-coaching, and therapy to keep my mindset on track. The work.
Yes, it looks “effortless” when Michael Phelps soars across the pool to smash yet another record and claim yet another gold medal.
But whenever things look “effortless,” that’s usually because there’s been 30,000 hours of effort—years of training, preparation, routine, commitment, and rock-solid consistency—bringing that person to this point in time.
It’s what you do in the dark…when no one is watching…that determines your success.
What do you do in the dark?
PS. To be clear—by sending this email, I am not urging you to hustle, toil away in misery, and grind yourself into exhaustion. But I am urging you to be dedicated and consistent in the pursuit of what you desire. There’s a difference.
PPS. I can’t wait for the Olympics to come back. Covid, please be over soon. The world needs some hope and power and gold medal podium magic!