It’s Not the One Big Break

Why Incremental Progress Will Get You to Where You Want to Go

I once heard a story about a young, aspiring actor in Hollywood who was invited to go to one of the local parties. It was in effect a Hollywood networking function where famous actors and actresses attended. One of the movie actors there was Walter Matthau. Walter Matthau during his lifetime appeared in more than 60 movies, and won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and two Tony Awards. Reportedly, Matthau asked the young actor how it was going. The aspiring actor replied, “I’m just looking for that one big break!” Matthau laughed, and said, “Kid, it’s not the one big break. It’s the fifty big breaks.”

one big break

Just like the aspiring actor, you won’t achieve overnight success. One big break will not help you. Unless it is supported by other breaks, that one big break will fade. You will attain success through incremental progress—by gaining one big break after another.

You can achieve the success you want if you will focus on these practices.

The Top Ten Steps to Success

I love reading motivational quotes and slogans. But recently I came across The Top Ten Steps to Success, and I thought this one was too good not to share.


I do not know who the original author is, but I have adapted and inverted the list in true Top Ten countdown style. And I also added my commentary to provide additional insight into this list.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy The Top Ten Steps to Success.

How You Can Clean Up Your Mess and Start Over

Sometimes things don’t go quite as you planned. Or they completely flop. And you have to clean up your mess. And figure out how to start over.


It’s never easy to deal with disappointment—or even outright failure. It’s tempting to brood about it. Or to ignore it. Or to deny it ever happened.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have had to process what went wrong. And I know it’s no fun to have to admit that things didn’t work out.

But disappointment and failure can be great teachers. If you are willing to be taught by them. Based on my own experience, here are three steps you can take to clean up your mess and start over.

How to Have Staying Power for Long-Term Goals

When you have long-term goals, you need something to prevent you from quitting. That’s why it is important to have staying power. But how do you develop it?

staying power for long-term goals

Your staying power is your ability to keep doing something for a long time despite fatigue or difficulty. In effect, it is your physical or mental stamina.

Here’s how you can develop your staying power so you can reach your long-term goals.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Quit

Have you ever started something that you didn’t finish? Did you wish later that you had kept at it? You have the ability to take on new things and finish them. You just need to make sure that you don’t quit.

don't quit

I know that sounds easier said than done. But you can develop the ability to see things through. You can achieve things you never thought possible. But it requires staying power. And it requires that you don’t quit.

Here’s a three step process to help make sure you finish what you start and not quit.

Make Progress: Focus on What’s in Front of You

The other day I went on a hike with my family in the woods. On the way there, it was mostly downhill walking. That was the easy part. But I knew in the back of my mind that meant the return trip would be mostly uphill. On our way back, when I saw the path ahead was all uphill, I did not find that encouraging. In fact, it was downright discouraging—and painful to my knees. But I found I could make progress if I focused on what was in front of me.

make progress by focusing

You may have the same scenario. You know what you have to do, and it looks daunting. But if you just focus on the steps in front of you, then it can make the journey easier.

Here are three things to keep in mind to help you make progress and not get overwhelmed.

How to Look for Silver Linings in Life’s Setbacks

When everything goes wrong, it’s hard to be positive.  In fact, it’s easy to get downright negative.  But it’s during those times that we need to motivate ourselves to keep going.  And we need to remember the old adage, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”  So in dealing with our disappointments, we need to look actively for silver linings.

silver linings

Looking for silver linings is not a waste of time.  It is a focused exercise to train your mind to stay upbeat in the midst of failure.

So here are three things you can think about as you look for silver linings in life’s setbacks.

How to Handle the Pressure in Your Life

We will all have to deal with pressure in our lives.  That’s a fact.  But how we handle it will make the difference.


God has things He wants to teach us through what we go through.  And these lessons pertain not just to our professional lives, but also to our spiritual lives.  Remember: if success were to come too easy, then we would miss out on the lessons God wants to teach us.

Looking at Romans 5:4, here are three lessons God wants to teach us through learning how to handle pressure.

The Power of Conviction and How You Can Use It

Have you ever marveled at how some people can persevere through anything?  They seem to be able to plow through any obstacle to achieve their goals.  Ever wondered why?  It’s because they have the power of conviction.


I know some people have a self-confidence that borders on cockiness.  But the power of conviction doesn’t have to be based on our own sense of self-importance.  In fact, it should be grounded on a firm belief of who God is and what He has called you to do.

Here are some examples from Scripture to show that you too can appropriate the power of conviction.


Dr. Woodrow Kroll, The Helios Projects

Have you had times when things didn’t work out and you wanted to quit?  Woodrow Kroll understands.  And that’s why he penned the poem START OVER.

start over

Inspired by my post How You Can Pick Up the Pieces and Start Over, Dr. Kroll sent me this poem that he wrote ten years ago while he was the President and Senior Bible Teacher of the international radio ministry Back to the Bible.

After 23 years with Back to the Bible, Wood retired—but not for long.  Within days of retiring, God prompted Wood to invest his 50 years of ministry experience in starting the HELIOS Projects to train untrained pastors in economically challenged countries.

Let Dr. Woodrow Kroll minister to you in these lines of poetry.  Perhaps you will see your situation in one of the stanzas.  Even if your life, your plans, or your friends have let you down, I hope you will find your way to START OVER.