247. What Spiders Can Teach Us About The Secret To Success
I hate spiders. So it makes me cringe to say that they provide an invaluable lesson about the secret to success. But there it is, I said it.
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I hate spiders.
Little spiders, big spiders, brown spiders, black spiders - I’m an equal opportunity despiser when it comes to spiders.
You see, I’ve got an irrational fear that spiders are incredibly smart and vengeful and that, if I anger them, they will figure out a way to kill me.
I’m guessing you understand why I don’t tell many people this info about me, so howzabout we keep it between us. After all, I have a reputation to uphold.
The truth is, I expect that one morning I will walk out my front door into a massive spider web. As I scramble to free myself from the sticky strings, the spider will lunge at me from its hiding place and proceed to bite my face off.
I know, it’s not logical, but neither is Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck back together, yet here we are.
You know who didn’t help me with my irrational spider fears? JK Rowling, that’s who
The Harry Potter movie did to me with spiders what “Jaws” did to me with sharks.
As it turns out, I also have an irrational fear that a mutant species of super-large spiders will invade our planet and proceed to eat all the humans. Or at least bite us in half.
I don’t want to be bitten in half by a mutant spider.
Just as I convinced myself that this whole fear is ridiculous, along comes the scene in the Harry Potter movie where he is battling a mutant species of super-large spiders that eat humans or at least bite them in half.
I can’t with all of this spider stuff.
I just can’t.
The Fall of The Spider
Autumn time in Los Angeles is spider time.
Every year at this time there is a large spider that inhabits our outdoor patio. This spider builds its web high up in the air, between the trees that hang right above our outside table.
The spider is big and chunky. Hypothetically, if somebody were wacko enough to fear being attacked by a spider, this particular spider is the one they’d probably imagine would pounce down on them, all Lucha Libre-like.
The big spider sits there in the middle of its web waiting for food - like maybe it’ll catch a passing pterodactyl or something.
When I return from my nighttime walk with the dog, I look up at the spider to make sure it’s still there and not, say, camping out by the front door waiting to heave me into the bushes.
Inevitably the spider is sitting in its web staring back at me with an “I got my eyes on you” look on its face.
So I triple-lock the door and check a little more closely between the sheets before climbing into bed.
When I walk outside in the morning, I look up to see the spider with a big smirk across its face and one of its legs pointing at the large insects caught in the web.
I take a big gulp and then call out to my wife, “Hon, I think it’s time for us to move out of this place.”
The Secret To My Unsuccessful Cartooning Career
I used to want to be a cartoonist when I was younger. Actually, I still want to be a cartoonist. I’m just really horrendous at it.
I stopped telling people I want to be a cartoonist because if I told them I want to be a cartoonist they’d inevitably ask to see my cartoon drawings, and I’d inevitably have to show them my drawings, at which point they’d look at the cartoons and just say something like, “…Oh…,” followed by a hugely uncomfortable silence that speaks louder than any words and basically means “you’ll never make it as a cartoonist cause you suck at it, so maybe don’t quit your day job, whatever that is, in fact, maybe you should get yourself a day job, and make sure it’s one that’s super, super secure.”
If I could be a cartoonist I’d probably create something like Calvin and Hobbes. In my mind, that is the best cartoon ever.
It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s philosophical and it is entirely relatable to somebody like me.
In fact, the cartoon I’d create would be exactly like Calvin and Hobbes. Basically, the entire cartoon series I want to create has already been created. No need for me to be a cartoonist anymore.
And Then There’s The Needlepoint
[Editor’s Note: This is all going to come together shortly. Trust me. Stick with it.]
I used to do needlepoint as a kid. Maybe if I spent more time working on my cartooning and less time needlepointing, this whole article would be quite different. But, alas, I needlepointed.
Let’s just say that I probably wasn’t the coolest kid on the block.
But now, when I do public speaking engagements or leadership workshops, part of my presentation includes pictures of needlepointed pillows. The needlepoint I show in these pillows is typically an impactful quote about leadership that I want people to remember.
As my grandmother always said to me, if you ever want a quote remembered, needlepoint it on a pillow.
[Editor’s Note: She never said that.]
Here’s one of the more popular needlepoint pillow quotes I talk about:
That’s a good one, right?
Based on my love for Calvin and Hobbes and the fact that I should’ve cartooned those cartoons myself, I of course have a needlepoint pillow with one of their most poignant insights. Here it is:
And this brings us right back to the spiders.
The Things Spiders Can Teach Us About The Secret To Success
Based on their incredible eyesight, a fine-tuned sense of gravity, and a great memory for remembering where they’ve previously built webs, spiders have a well-honed ability to know where their food will come from.
For instance, the spider that lives above our patio knows that their daily meals will zip around between the trees. They don’t know when the insects will fly by, they just know that, if they wait long enough, their meal will show up at that particular place.
So they build their web between the trees and they wait.
To paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes:
They don’t know the right time in which their meal ticket will arrive, so they just find the right place and hang around for a while.
And this finally brings us to you.
Thanks for your patience.
The Secret To Success In Your Career
In this world of immediate gratification and ADHD-like attention, we all too often expect success to be waiting for us whenever we want it.
👉🏽 We start a job and complain when we’re not promoted in 6 months.
👉🏽 We have an idea to help our company and get aggravated when the approval process takes too long.
👉🏽 We want somebody to change, so we rush a conversation and then get frustrated when the response isn’t what we anticipated.
Impatience is one of the biggest obstacles on the path to success.
We want success now and we refuse to wait a minute longer.
But that’s the thing about success, you can move fast but you can’t rush it.
The spider will weave its web in the right place every night with expert efficiency. Then it just waits patiently for success to arrive. And when the opportunity comes flying by - WHAMO! - they latch on to it.
Success takes practice.
It takes the experience of knowing when to be patient. It takes the understanding that sometimes no movement is actually forward progress.
And it takes the ability to recognize the moment of opportunity when it arises and be ready to do what it takes to grab onto it.
Success is about being in the right place, doing the right things, and waiting for the right moment to act.
So, the next time you're getting antsy about your future not arriving fast enough, remember the spider. The one that’s plotting to kill me.
It doesn't rush and it doesn’t doubt; it takes its time to locate the perfect spot, gets everything ready for success, and patiently waits.
So find your own perfect place, prepare for your future, and have faith that the right opportunity will fly by when the time is right.
It always does.
Just be ready to pounce.
When you start feeling restless about your future taking its sweet time, think about the spider. The sneaky little creature that's planning to attack me.
Somewhat Relevant Quote
“Patience is the key to success.”
Bill Gates - businessman, philanthropist, the person who made geeks cool