The one “secret” to success — practice following the impulse to do what’s right.

George Kao
5 min readJan 10, 2018

If I had name only 1 overall “secret” to success that I’ve noticed in people with admirable lives, it’s this:

Follow the impulse to do what’s right, especially when one doesn’t feel like it.

Sounds simple, but it’s actually quite subtle. The impulse to make progress, to do what is good for the future, is at the same time being counteracted by the impulse to do what is easy, convenient and less good for the future.

Therefore, I never give the advice to “do what feels good” or “follow your bliss” because it’s very easy for the ego to twist those mantras. We end up thinking “do what’s comfortable right now” … rather than “do what feels good in the long term, yet will feel uncomfortable right now.”

Isn’t that what conscious living and true growth is about? The willingness to make a choice for our ideals, when we are faced with less-helpful, ingrained patterns.

The video you see here? I didn’t feel like making it. It was a bit rainy outside and I don’t like being dripped on. My throat wasn’t working properly because something I ate earlier that day had gone down the wrong pipe, and I was still trying to recover. Plus, it was Friday afternoon and I wanted to end my workweek. Yet, it was the time I had scheduled to make the video.

The truth was that it it was merely uncomfortable to get started. But once I started, it became a bit easier, then even easier if I kept going. It often seems to be that way. That’s how our human behavior works: we keep going once we have really started.

When I make a choice for my ideals rather than what’s comfortable or easy in the moment, I tend to keep going.

Similarly, I didn’t feel like writing this blog post. I only had one thing to say: “Do what’s right”. But that wouldn’t be very helpful just to write that. So I had to allow my thoughts to expand. What does “do what’s right” really mean? Why is it hard, and what we might do about that?

Today, you are going to face several moments when you have a blip of a conscious choice — just a second where you can decide to pursue your ideals, to do what’s right in your heart/soul… and it will feel uncomfortable to your body. It will be easier to go with your existing patterns or negativity.

May these words inspire you to say YES in the moment to your goals, your vision, your ideals and TAKE ACTION without further hesitation.

Perhaps you want to be more consistent in showing up for your business, maybe by writing a blog post today, or making a video, or reaching out to someone, or announcing an product/service/event. It’ll be easier not to do it. Your ego / existing patterns is more tricky than your conscious mind, and will come up with excuses for why you should put it off.

There are unlimited excuses. Here are just a few examples:

“People need me.”

Are you allowing other people’s needs to seem more important than your own top priority? (I’m not asking you to be selfish and not help others — I’m asking you to *not* make other people the excuse for why you’re not making progress.) You can do your top priority, then help others.

“I’m so busy.”

The many things on your to-do list that are less important — yet easier to do — may be crowding out your top priority. Resolve to get started on the top priority thing first, then “reward” yourself with the less-important tasks.

“I’m not feeling well.”

Your own lack of perfect health will give you unlimited reasons for why you shouldn’t work on your top priority. “You should slow down, rest more, take it easy. It’s not healthy for you to work so hard…” the wily ego is saying to you. (If you’ve read my blog post on “frequent creative rest” you know that I *highly value self-care* but too many people use it as an excuse to not work on their top priority. They forget self-care when working on *other people’s* needs or on their own lower-priority stuff… and then use self-care as an excuse to postpone the difficult yet high priority / high-growth-potential project.)

“I need to learn/prepare ____ (fill in the blank) ___ first.”

It is easy to forever be in “preparation mode” and not make real progress on your top priority. Your ego, your resistance, tricks you into believing that there’s such a thing as “getting your ducks in a row.” Let me tell you from my decade of business experience: there are no ducks! There’s only you taking action, being willing to learn from failure and disappointment, rather than pretending there’s some fail-proof formula and magical instruction guide that will allow you to take perfect action. It’s all imperfect action, my friend. That’s the truth. (Or simultaneously we can say that it’s all perfect action, no matter what.) Experiment > Observe > Modify… and Repeat that cycle over and over again. Learn *by taking* action. You already know enough to get started.

“I’m just not inspired right now.”

Truthfully, I didn’t feel like making this video, but by the end, I was inspired to make more. Also, I didn’t know what I was going to write today in this blog post, but I just started writing (very haltingly sometimes) but by the end of the first page, I was in more of a flow, and much of what you just read, came from that flow, which came from the willingness to just get started doing the right thing. You simply need to get started doing your top priority project, and you’ll be given more clarity and motivation. Action begets inspiration, not the other way around.

We truly grow, every single time we make the choice to do what’s right, to get started, to make progress, to say “no” to one of the above excuses and get into action. We move closer to a heavenly life.

Each time we opt for the comfort/convenience/easy route that feels less-aligned with our ideals, we are falling toward a more hellish life.

Life gets easier when we train our conscious choice towards doing what’s right. Life gets harder the more we choose the easy route.

And, every time you recognize that you went for what’s easy, versus making the right choice, and you resolve to do better next time, then please forgive yourself (or remember that are forgiven by God.)

Self-punishment is always an unhelpful choice. Choose instead to simply imagine how you might do better next time, and then get back up and practice again.



George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"