Guarantees are like gryphons. They only exist in fairy tales, and if you had one as a pet it would probably eat you.

“How much money will I earn if I become an author?”

This is probably the most common question aspiring authors ask. And it’s a little silly.

Imagine a football player asking, “How much will I earn if I become a football player?” Pretty ridiculous, right?

It’s ridiculous because we all know that the earnings of football players are basically binary – either you earn nothing or you earn millions of dollars a year, with very little gray area in between.

Why does it sound so much more ridiculous for a football player to ask the question than an author?

Because everyone knows, instinctively, that a football player who plays only for the money will never get good enough at football to become a pro.

The pros are the people who have spent their life dedicated to mastering their sport. When everyone else was out partying or watching TV, the pros were training diligently and working their butts off.

As soon as someone asks that question, you almost certainly know they don’t have what it takes to succeed unless they make some serious changes. Why? Because pros are too busy working on their game.

Here’s the secret to earning millions. Those who are busy doing the earning are usually too busy working on their dreams to spend all their time talking about it.

There are No Guarantees

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who eat what they kill, and those who feed on the dead.

If you want to be an economic vulture, go get a cushy government job or work for a major corporation and join the bureaucracy.

But if you want to soar free like an eagle, you’re going to have to kill it. Just like a pro football player, you have to be smarter, stronger, faster, and more experienced than the “competition.”

I say “competition” in quotes because the truth is competition is largely a figment of our imaginations. The only one holding you back is yourself.

Anyone who’s skilled enough can play pro football, just like anyone who’s skilled enough can become a bestselling author, just like anyone who’s skilled enough can become a chess grandmaster.

The amazing thing is that humans have nearly unlimited potential. The sad thing is that few of us ever come close to reaching our full potential.

All you have to do to earn a fortune as an author is play the game and become the best.

That’s the rub. You have to be the best. Not the best in the world. Not even necessarily the best in your field (I don’t know many who would claim the author of Twilight is the best writer alive today). You have to be the best you can be.

I listened to a talk by Texas multimillionaire Keith Cunningham (of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame), and he said,

“Hell on Earth would be to meet the man I could have been.”

We can all read motivational books, go to conferences, and pretend like we want to be the best, but at the end of the day your success is determined by what you do not who you pretend to be.

If you’re not on fire and motivated to be the best and achieve your goals, then maybe the fear of meeting the person you could have become will scare you into making some changes. Who said fear can’t be useful?

There’s an old saying, “character is what you do when no one is around.”

If that’s true, then character is what makes you successful, because success is determined by what you do day in and day out when you’re by yourself (or when you’re with other people because you’re avoiding being by yourself and doing the work you know you should be doing.)

When people ask, “How much money can I make as an author/entrepreneur/artist/whatever” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t trust myself to do what it takes to become the best. I need a guarantee that this will work. Otherwise, I’m not even going to bother to try.

If that sounds like you, it’s time to wake up before you look back on your life and realize you wasted it by failing to follow your dreams because you needed a guarantee. There is no guarantee.

It’s time for us as professionals and aspiring professionals to stop this entitlement mentality. You are NOT entitled to be successful, happy, or healthy. You get what you earn in life. You want more? Go earn it.

Talk is cheap. It’s what you do that counts.

A lot of people say they want to lose weight, or write that book, or start that new business, but never get around to it. I guess they were too busy looking for that guarantee. Maybe the guarantee flew away on the back of a gryphon.

Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to relearn how to do things the old-fashioned way, and actually work for our success. Guarantees be damned.

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Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.

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