What’s the secret to success?

Is it collaboration? Providing an unforgettable customer experience? Out-learning the pace of change?

No, no and no.

Those things are important – mandatory, even. They’ll put you on the path to success.

But they won’t guarantee it.

What will?

Tom Clancy knew.

The best-selling author and Baltimore’s celebrity-in-residence died on Oct. 1 at the age of 66, and his death hit me hard. As a teen-ager and young adult, I devoured just about everything he wrote. His books sucked you in on Page 1 and didn’t let you go until the end … about 1.5 million pages later. Those were some thick, dense, heavy books.

The most powerful words he ever strung together, though, came not from one of his books, but from an interview he did with the cable network AMC. Here’s what he said:

“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired – it’s hard work.”

Just like everything else.

That’s the secret to success – working so hard that you become better than everyone else. That covers success at everything – as a spouse, a parent, a friend, an employee, a boss, whatever.

Work hard and get better. Therein lies success.

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