When we look at success, whether as a professional athlete or as a businessperson, we tend to overlook the significant sacrifice, hard work, and commitment it takes to reach that position in life. Steve Jobs once said, “Half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” Consider some of the most successful people today—for example, Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen. To put it simply, they worked tirelessly. They willingly invited risk, stress, and challenges into their lives, knowing the rewards justified them. And they continued to hustle and stay resolute no matter how many times they failed. It takes definite self-confidence, passion, and tolerance for adversity. In the case of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Allen said they would put a computer in every household in the US. At that time, it seemed an unbelievable proposition, given the size and expense of computers then. The sheer magnitude of their vision brought tension into their personal and professional lives. Rather than back down, they wrestled with it, and ultimately became triumphant. Consider innovations widely available today. Imagine at the turn of the century, envisioning a world where smartphones would transform our lives—from how we bank or travel to how we communicate and consume information. Even the most creative minds would become skeptical at the thought. Yet someone envisioned this dream and maintained the courage to pursue it no matter how many obstacles stood in the way.
Success doesn’t represent a lottery ticket. It doesn’t come from luck but from tireless work and remarkable sacrifice. I didn’t wake up one day with the capital I needed to buy Omega. I earned it, only after many years of working seven days a week, taking educated risks, and compiling my wealth. This journey started when I first moved to New Orleans and took emergency room calls because I wanted to build my reputation as a physician. I covered every emergency room in the city, realizing early on that success requires more than just ability, but also affability and availability. I built rapport with important people in the community, and I developed significant insight into how to operate a health-care organization successfully. Everything I learned and accomplished on this journey contributed to my eventual success as an entrepreneur. My work as a physician created the opportunity to own my practice. Health care led to hospitality, which opened the door to real estate, which created opportunities in entertainment, technology, aviation, and so on. One investment created the chance to make another and another. Over time, my opportunities increased, my network expanded, and my knowledge improved, but my underlying commitment to working hard, accepting risk, and embracing challenges remained fundamentally the same.
Through this journey of success, I also experienced plenty of failures. Yet I didn’t let them diminish my confidence or slow my momentum. Rather, I saw each experience as a learning opportunity. Omega taught me to fight for what I value. Looking back, I could have easily given up, reverted to working as a physician, and allowed Najeeb and the other surgeons to take over. In many ways, I see this as one of the benefits of connectedness. It truly allows us to recognize the full potential of the opportunities afforded to us and recognize that we can always surmount any obstacle with hard work, the right approach, and access to people who can support us along the way.
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