Here's A Brilliant Quote About How Success Is Totally Doable -- But Very Hard Work

Meb Keflezighi 2009 London MarathonWikimedia CommonsMeb Keflezighi running the 2009 London Marathon

The truth is: Startups are hard but doable.

But really, don’t discount the “hard” part.

Paul Graham, an influential investor who runs a startup school in Silicon Valley, gave Inc magazine a quote on this point in a interview published last night.

He said:

Everyone is surprised by how difficult it turns out to be, because it’s not the kind of difficulty people have experienced before. That’s one reason you want to have something like Y Combinator, because not a lot of money or time is at risk. So we’re totally OK with funding people who seem promising and earnest, and then, if it turns out to be too hard for them, that’s all right. Nobody knows what they’re capable of until they try it. Maybe half a per cent of people have the brains and sheer determination to do this kind of thing. Start-ups are hard but doable, in the way that running a five-minute mile is hard but doable.

Graham’s quote reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from a successful person.

That person is my colleague, BI executive editor Joe Weisenthal.

In a meeting with the entire Business Insider newsroom about a year or so ago, our editor-in-chief was reminding everyone that while the pace at Business Insider can seem really fast, everyone should be wary of burning themselves out because “this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

That’s when Joe couldn’t help himself.

He kind of blurted out: “Of course, world-class marathoners run faster for 26 miles than most of us could sprint.”

His point was: you probably shouldn’t burn out, but yeah, you’re not going to become world-class without hard work.

Joe was speaking from experience. He gets up a 4 A.M. writes a gajillion super smart posts per day. Because of that he has fans around the world. The New York Times profiled him and his work habits.

Joe’s right about marathoners, by the way.

My favourite world-class marathoner, Meb Keflezighi, ran his personal best in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 29 seconds. That’s about 5 minutes per mile.

Totally doable!

2 hours and 11 minutes wasn’t a world record or anything — and literally hundreds of people finished only minutes after Meb that day.

But yeah, running that fast is really hard.

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