Today we are inundated with immediate access to information. We have instant access to just about anything at our finger tips simply by typing a few keywords into a search engine. We can order anything from groceries to vacations online.

With such immediate access to so many things we have become accustomed to the concept of immediate gratification. While instant access and immediate gratification can be useful when we need to check some quick facts for a presentation or see which movies are playing. The same however can not be said for achieving our goals and ultimately obtaining success.

Success can not be had instantly, there is no big break or quantum leap that can propel us from the mundane to the extraordinary. The concept simply does not exist.

We all have heard the overnight success story. The type of story where an individual has seemingly rose out of obscurity to a position of prominence, fame or fortune. However, what we don’t see is all the years of tiny steps of progress, all the planning, discipline, sacrifice and failure they have endured over the years on their perceived meteoric rise.

Success can not be obtained quickly and by chance, rather successful people have learned to set clear concise goals. They do not submit to the temptation of immediate gratification nor the notion of, “if it’s meant to be it will happen.”, rather “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” is their mantra. Successful individuals take ownership of their lives, they do not let chance play a part. These individuals know that their success and failure ultimately rests solely upon them.

Extraordinary individuals realize that the secret to success is not the big break through. Rather success is a combination of small positive, seemingly inconsequential disciplines, that when performed consistently over a long enough period of time form positive habits. These positive habits begin to compound and ultimately lead us to where we want to go.

Darren Hardy calls this process “The Compound Effect”, Jeff Olson refers to it as “The Slight Edge”. Both of these individuals have written excellent books on the subject. As coincidence would have it, the titles of the books happen to be “The Compound Effect” and “The Slight Edge”

The concept as a whole is beyond the scope of anything that could be addressed in a single blog post, or even multiple blog posts. The point I wish to make is that to reach our fullest potential and to accomplish our goals we must first stop looking for the quantum leap and immediate gratification.

The reason so many of us fail to achieve what we desire is because we are hard wired to immediate gratification. We want what we want and we want it yesterday. Life doesn’t work like that and success in any endeavor is impossible to achieve until we let go of that mindset and embrace that it’s not the giant leaps that get us to where we want to go but rather it’s the small steps that often we overlook or dismiss as unimportant that get us to where we want to be. In short, “the little things do make a difference, in fact they make all the difference”.

How many times have you set some great big goal and went all out making huge changes in habit or lifestyle only to quit a short time after beginning and long before any measurable success? I think for most of us the answer is, “more times then I care to remember”. So what happened? The answer is simple… you made major habit and lifestyle changes. Making matters worse because of the propensity for immediate gratification, when faced with little results after say a few days or even a few weeks you quit.

It’s not that your intention was flawed or that your ability to achieve was impossible. In fact quite the opposite. You recognized that you needed to make changes, what was flawed was how you perceived and implemented the needed changes.

We all have habits, both positive and negative. We all have routines that we have been practicing for many years often unconsciously aware even of what they are. Major changes are overwhelming and in most cases are not sustainable for long periods of time. The secret is to make small discipline and routine changes necessary to accomplishing your end goal. Practice them long enough until they become habit, then identify and begin practicing some more small disciplines and routines vital to whatever it is you wish to accomplish and so on and so fourth.

This is the what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. This is the formula that all great achievers and leaders are very much aware of. This is the mindset you must adopt if you wish to have success.