The Unsexy Truth About Success - Christine Kane

The Unsexy Truth About SuccessMy trainer pisses me off.

She puts these heavy weights in my hands and makes me push them in various different ways to build various levels of strength in my body.

That doesn’t bother me so much.  I can play that game.

But just when I think I can’t push any more or lift another time, she says, “Okay, three more. You can do it!”

That’s when I decide to hate her.  Sometimes I spew mean things to her in between breaths.  This makes her laugh.

The truth is, I pay her to do this to me.  Because this is when I would typically stop.

This morning it dawned on me during my work out that this moment – when I just want to toss a dumbbell at her, but decide instead to lift the weight anyway – is what success is all about.

It’s about the uneventful little choice we make in the moment. Every moment.

It’s so typical (and tempting) to make success about the sexiness. About the “there” we arrive at.

“115 pounds!”

“Best-selling author!”

“Billboard Hit!”

“A million bucks!”

“NCAA Champions!”

But the truth about success is that it’s really not sexy at all.  That’s because it’s not about the arrival.

Success is about the choices you make each and every moment.

Not each and every day.

Each and every moment.

•  Push the weights up three more times when you’d rather be in bed.

•  Write the next paragraph when the family is watching television.

•  Sit with your guitar and a lyric idea when you have no idea of the outcome.

•  Market yourself and your product consistently when you’d just as soon give up.

•  Practice shooting free throws a hundred times each afternoon for 4 years.

A few years ago, I mentored a woman who had big dreams and goals.  She’d mention a new idea on a call, and together we’d break it down into small chunks and do-able activities to help her create this new thing in her life.

But after a week, she’d get bored. Frustrated. She hated just sitting there writing.  And research wasn’t nearly as cool as the fame and glory she fantasized about.

She wanted to be THERE.  To arrive in that sexy moment of success that is already guaranteed and sparkly.   So, she did what most people do when they’re faced with their own illusions of what success should feel like.

She gave up.  She went back to her self-created world view that none of “this stuff” works for her.

I was sad for her.

Not because I knew she could succeed if she put her mind to it.  Not because of some grandiose outcome she’d never have.

But because she would miss out on the splendid truth of success:  The miraculous unsexy truth of it.

When I am succeeding, there’s no one clapping.

When I am succeeding, there are no articles being written about me.

When I am succeeding, it is just me and my relationship to the moment.

This is not news-worthy. In fact, from the outside it looks downright boring. But on the inside, there’s an all-out ticker-tape parade in the streets of my head.

Because I am choosing to do what matters to me.

Because I am not listening to the gangs of critical voices that used to run my entire day.

Because I am willing to sit there in spite of not knowing the outcome.

This is the miracle of success. This seemingly boring choice in this seemingly not-so-sexy moment.

What boring unsexy choices are you going to make today?

  • Kerry Dexter

    As I was reading your wise words, I was reminded of the song Carrie Newcomer wrote called Holy as the Day Is Spent. Do you know it? A bit of a different perspective on the idea, but still, related. As I thinker and as a musician, I think you might like it.

    As to choices I’m making: I have to move in less than a month now as my whole neighborhood is being knocked down. I do not yet know where my next home will be — finding many closed doors so far — but spent the morning sorting and packing, and now will going to finish up two stories I need to complete in the midst of this. Wonder if that work will lead me to ideas on the home front? Could be…

  • Andrea Mock

    The unsexy thing I’m doing is putting the finishing touches winding down this 11 month project from hell. I’m doing them well too, not just sloughing them off. This is a gig I wanted to quit almost every single day. Yeehaw, I making it through the last weeks and living to tell the tale. Thank you Christine, when the going got rough I went to your blog for a cool drink of water to keep me sane. You’re the best.

  • Michelle

    I recently returned from a speaking event which had an unexpected outcome – not only did people show up to hear me speak, but each session was way overpacked, and I got 3 days of incredible kudos, love and support….which I really enjoyed and was so grateful for (convinced as I was that nobody would show up in the first place.) People came. To hear ME talk. And they hugged me, told me I was amazing, thanked me for sharing, and in general fed my ego like crazy. I got that sexy moment of success, and I LOVED IT.

    Then I got home, and crashed into what I can only describe as the painful Wall of Reality. Bills needed to be paid, more articles written, more calls made, childen’s lives to organise and just the reality of life. The very, VERY unsexy reality of my chaotic but blessed life. I let myself wallow and just feel crappy for a whole day…and then reminded myself that it was ME who wrote those presentations, kicked down the doors of the people who I had to convince to let me present in the first time, and ME who stood her ground when told that my presentations were “non income earning” for the event organisers and therefore not a priority to them. I did all the hard work long before I got the kudos. ME. I did that. I worked REALLY DAMN HARD to do all of that. For a looong time. Without any kudos and without any hugs from fans.

    So the unsexy thing I’m going to do today, tomorrow, and next week? I’m going to keep on keeping on, kudos or not. That’s it. I’ll just keep on putting one foot in front of the other, for as long as I decide I want to, and as long as it continues to serve my higher purpose and values.

    Not terribly sexy – but then if life was crazy sexy all the time, I’d probably wish it wasn’t just so I could go and take a nap. 🙂

    Sending you gratitude from Australia,


  • Rebecca

    I so needed this today, Christine. Thank you!

  • Nick Marshall

    “Because I am willing to sit there in spite of not knowing the outcome.”
    This really rang a bell with me. My wife and partner Lizzie and I have been wandering along the precipice edge path of self-employment for nearly 30 years now. After a while you realise that the fearful edge is really just a trick of the mind. Working for yourself is liberating. For one thing you can’t be fired! You own your own life. It may be a bit scary at times but a little fear is a good protection against complacency. You tend t be more careful with what you have. You are more inclined to save for a rainy day because those are inevitable. At the same time, to survive and prosper, you have to stretch your comfort zone and be prepared to take on risk, to accept uncertainty. You gain a mental freedom when you realise that nothing can ever really go wrong – as long as you are breathing and have a heartbeat!

  • yogesh khanna

    yes Christine , u are always right . I always need such kind of teachings it reminds me tht i shud applause my self .keep it up thanks

  • Brooke Parkhurst

    THANK YOU! I have HUGE problems with this, and it’s very timely (of course). Though I really like all your posts, this is one of the best ever. THANK YOU!

  • Elle

    I love this post! I am learning to play the guitar, and there is nothing sexy about EEE, FFF, GGG, repeat… but there is something sexy about doing it day after day, having my brain remember something it couldn’t the day before. Having my fingers move between the strings and frets the way they couldn’t the day before. And hopefully having my fingers get tougher so they no longer feel like they are being sliced by the thin steel strings.

    I remember how you wrote once that you used to make yourself sit and work on song writing. For some reason, I used to think that songs (and poems) had to spring fully formed from one’s brain, unlike other writing that had to go through drafts and edits. But when I remembered that the other day, I said “I’m going to write a song today.” So I sat with my note pad and pencil and started to write ideas and then a line came to me and more lines and then there it was. And over the next few days I tweaked the words and adjusted the tune and now I have a song I can sing in the car, and someday hopefully play on my guitar once someone tells me what the chords are.

  • Mark

    Wow Christine!

    Reading that post, may me think, maybe you should create an entirely new information product and workshop to go with it entitled: “Reality Check 101!

    “The Real Ugly Truth About Long Term Success!” (That The Gurus Are Scared To Death To Tell You!)

    You shared some absolutely fabulous and powerful points! Who would have thought, something as simple your workout routine with your personal trainer, could shed so much light on exactly what it takes mentally, to reach your goals!

    You’ve done us all a really big favor by sharing your extremely powerful insights! Thanks!

  • Laura

    Christine, as a personal trainer you made me laugh! I can just picture you there, ready to throw a weight at me!! When my clients complain, I add a few more. Or sometimes I add a few more reps for the fun of it! LOL Great post. As I’m just starting my business, I so want to “be there” and have to remember it’s all the unsexy stuff that will get me there.

  • Diane L.

    I really needed to hear this message. Thanks for just the right words at just the right time.

  • Herdis Pala

    Great reminder!
    I decided to go back to the corporate world last November (was headhunted for a VP-job) but keep working on my business on the side, instead of full time.
    I´m working on changing my business model and that is not so sexy work but necessary for me 🙂

  • Tracie Thompson

    Last night, it was about choosing to lose a little sleep so I could get my art submission sent off to a greeting card company. Today, it was making sure I took the art with me to work that I needed to deliver once I got off my shift — so I can get paid in time to not fret over incoming bills. Tonight, it’s choosing to put together a proposal for an exhibit at a very nice art center where I would like to show.

    I have a necklace I’ve been wearing each day, with two pendants that represent things I want for myself. When I put that on I think of it as “putting on my commitment” — to do these un-special, un-sexy things that are lifting me into a new life.

  • Lora LeFhae

    Wow, Christine,
    This is awesome, can I quote you? Really well said. I so appreciate your approach and your down-to-earth manner.

  • Jennifer

    I had a client cancel her 1:30 pm session. I was debating whether to find someone to have lunch or just play around a bit. Then I decided it would be a perfect time to dig into Module 6 of Uplevel Your Business. I still have nightmares thinking about how long it took me to write my first VFO. Now, I am ready to do the work it takes to go back and improve my most recent one.

    The good news is I do like your voice, some might even say it’s sexy.

  • Jessica

    This post is one of my favorites – and SO true! Ironically, though, I’ve spent the last 3 years in my business trying ‘get out of’ the unsexy stuff because I successfully did all of that and guess what? It worked! I’ve hired people to do my weaknesses, house keeper (as Christine has mentioned many times) and I have finally gotten to a point where I am doing different work and not the late night grueling work that allowed myself and my husband to quit our jobs, support ourselves, and many employees in our business. The only work I know how to value is the unsexy stuff, and lately I am working on finding myself without these ‘doer type tasks’ to fuel my fire. It’s like having a whole new job! One I always wanted, too. Any tips for this, Christine and others? How do you finally relax? Get into your genius work and schedule and enjoy big picture thinking tasks that aren’t driven by daily email notifications. Thanks guys!

    • Christine Kane

      Jessica — It sounds like you may have some adrenal fatigue at being accustomed to the go go go of it all. I recommend planning out and/or scheduling some of your down time. Set up massages, hikes or something that you love doing in a planned way so that you can trick your do-er into believing you are doing. It will ease off over time!

      Does that help?

  • Corinne Meharg

    Great article. I know the “ticker tape parade in your brain” feeling and that is a wonderful success on the road to “SUCCESS”, which is overrated since no one knows when or where it actually occurs. Love you! Corinne

  • Cheryel Hutton


    I’m saving this blog to read on a regular basis.

    I’m a paranormal romance author, and sometimes I get down thinking about that $1.60 royalty check last month (honest). The thing is, I’m a published author who signs books and gets compliments on my writing. Do I want to make writing pay well? Hell yeah, but I also know that in a lot of ways, I am living my dream.

    As for writing that paragraph when the family is asleep (or playing video games across the kitchen) yes, it’s hard to keep doing that. That’s why I need to read this article every few days/weeks or whenever I lost my “map”. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of that next paragraph. It’s easy to forget.

  • Reshleman

    Thanks, Christine! I am facing another day of slogging through unsexy website auto-registration upgrades in my uber-unsexy sweatpants in my home office. This is all in pursuit of item #7 on your Cash Flow Decoder Map, and when I am finally done, no one will know the unsexy, carpel-tunnel inducing agony that went into automated registration and payment for my classes – but I will…and I am going to enjoy that ticker tape parade in my head…I may even take it to the streets (after I change out of my sweatpants!) I printed this article, and have it hanging up in my studio as a source of on-going motivation – thanks again!

  • Wendy Wolfe

    Just started my first online class and the launch and prep required lots of unsexy just sit down and write moments but with great results. In fact, I need to do that right now, just sit down and write some more, week 2 awaits. Fortunately, I love what I do, even when it isn’t sexy. Thanks for your wisdom.

  • Dana Hilmer

    Hi Christine,

    So well said, thanks Christine! I’d also like to add that often times we think we’ll be happy when we reach the big shiny goal but it’s the goal in itself, the journey, that makes one happy. So my challenge to all of you is to go ahead and set a big audacious goal and that goal will set you on a path that truly excites and it’s that, that makes you happy!

  • Ginger Meek Allen

    So, my unsexy success moves are getting sexier every day…. As I remember that I could instead be a robot sitting at a jeweler’s bench working for someone else just assembling manufactured parts…. geez that would be so mundane and unoriginal. I love my way so much more!
    Thanks, Christine! See ya next week! 🙂

  • Jenn S

    Thank you, Christine. I needed this, today. 🙂

    Jenn S

  • Nneka, Working Mystic

    WOW!!! Already made a few today. I’m training for a 10K, and today was cross – an easy hour long walk after pounding my joints. I’m tempted to go hard every day, but the ones in between are just as important.

    In business, it’s all unsexy today – calls, eZine for vacation week, and content:-)

    Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of the day thinking, “I’m really doing this.”

    Brings a smile to my face every time:-)

  • Sharon Leslie

    Thanks Christine, I am continuing to do a lot of unsexy stuff, and I have never been so excited, hopeful and committed to my vision. The strength it has given to me sustains me through new challenges and delays. Its been almost a year since I took UYB, and although I am still working on fundamentals, my whole life and business has changed. All from typing in the word ‘uplevel’ into the search bar!

  • rosemary

    Christine, sooo true. today my unsexy choice is to keep plugging away at the business plan. tomorrow I submit it to receive my grant monies, but i am so tired of it. i have been working on it for weeks now. why is it when you are so near the end it is most tempting to quit… But, in my heart I know I will keep on till I am finished!! why! Because I know in the end this is what success is made up of. thank you so much for the support!!!!!! can’t wait till my budget lets me take your uplevel business course!!!!!!!!!!!! I won’t stop working toward that goal either! why?? because it means success in my business!! You are the greatest!!

  • Barb Churchill

    Oh Christine how I love thee!
    What fab timing! I love when the Universe does this! Perfect article for me to read today as I am looking at a mountain of “to dos” and feeling stretched beyond my inner Gumby. Thanks for the reminder that the success – or for me the joy – is in every moment. This is the work I’m here to do. This is the success – not some “thing” out there.
    Love ya!

  • andrea

    How wonderful and timely. As always.
    Thanks for this:)

  • Jack

    Christine, this is so true and well timed! I’m exhausted and heading in for the first day of a three day workshop. And all of my mental energy is just fighting it simply because I’m tired. Gonna find a spot to meditate, realign, and re-decide to give my energy to the unsexy things that carry me to my destination – to success!!! See ya next week!

  • Nav

    Christine, you’re the best- you really are xx

  • Lucy Chen

    Sorry about the duplicate comments, trying to type on my phone, and it’s proved to be a bit difficult

  • Lucy Chen

    “When I am succeeding, it is just me and my relationship to the moment.”
    So well said, Christine. It is the chioices we make every moment. Thank you.

    I think the boring unsexy choice I made today was cleaning my brushes thoroughly, instead of letting them dry or keep them in oils jar. I choose to clean my brushed everyday that I paint. It’s boring. But it keeps my brush alive much longer, and it keeps our home safer for the kids….

  • Lucy Chen

    “When I am succeeding, it is just me and my relationship to the moment.”
    So well said, Christine. It is the chioices we make every moment. Thank you.

    I think the boring unsexy choice I made today was cleaning my brushes thoroughly, instead of letting them dry or keep them in oils jar. I choose to clean my brushed everyday that I paint. It’s boring. But it keeps my brush alive much longer, and it keeps our home safer for the kids.