Success Is An Iceberg: 3 Ways to Melt-Proof Your Success


Dec 08
success is an iceberg

Success is an iceberg. We all look to the top performers to see how it’s done, but what we see them accomplish doesn’t necessarily tell us how they got there. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at 3 hacks that some of the most successful people in the world use to stay dominant and, most importantly, enjoy the process.

1. Always be proving to yourself that you deserve success.

2. Be relentlessly consistent.

3. You should wake up expecting today to be the most challenging day of your life. This is important for two reasons.

1. Make Your Iceberg of Success Melt-Proof

Imposter syndrome (feeling outclassed and out of place) is common among high performers. Luckily, you can get rid of your doubt by taking a little action.

Rather than waiting for challenges to come to you, make small bets with yourself throughout the day, mini-challenges that push you to stay focused and efficient. 

Big wins are made from a million little ones. By giving yourself definitive markers of progress, you prove that you deserve to run with the big dogs.

General Stanley McChrystal

Retired US Army Four Star General Stan McChrystal had a few things to say about pursuing challenges in his interview on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast not long ago. 

When Tim asked McChrystal about his exercise habits, McChrystal said that at one point,

for an entire year, he ran 15 miles every morning for seven days a week.

With almost no days off. Even at 63 years old he continues to get up at 4:30 in the morning and workout until 6 am. Why the maniacal exercise routine?

Success security.

McChrystal knows his success is an iceberg. It's the little things that keep him afloat.

Sure working out has tons of cognitive benefits to help you tackle the day, but it’s also insurance for your self-esteem.

Tim Ferriss made an interesting point that he uses exercise to “compartmentalize” his success.

When other areas of his life are going poorly, Tim can at least pat himself on the back for meeting his fitness goals.

When Rolling Stone published a potentially damaging article about General McChrystal’s activities in Afghanistan, the consistency of his routine helped him cope with the chaos that followed.

By the end of the day, McChrystal was at least able to tell himself that his workout went well. 

Having a recent accomplishment to be proud of makes it easier to cope with distressing events.

(If you want to give this podcast episode a listen, General McChrystal and Tim start discussing exercise routines at 19:30).

2. Consistency Is Key: Success Is An Iceberg

Positive habits (and the ability to stick to them) are easy to maintain but difficult to get started. The fact is, you’re not as powerful as you think. You’re habits own you! So have good ones.

If success is an iceberg, consistency makes up over half of it. Habits are the engine of progress. They go on autopilot and take you with them when times get tough.

Gary Vaynerchuk oozes consistency, and the result is a multi-million dollar business that he didn’t start building until he was in early 30’s. Gary grinds hard, all day, every day.

“Consistency is king,” (Gary’s words, not mine) and it’s why he busted his ass every day for 13 years before anyone knew his name. 

“Greatness is born from consistency.”

- Gary Vaynerchuk

Lot’s of people have talent, but talent doesn’t get things done, consistency does. When things don’t go as planned, positive daily routines keep you on track and unphased.

Consistency helps you accept failure as part of the process by preventing losses from destroying your self-esteem. (R)

In the words of Gary, 

“you have to be patient, and fall in love with the process if you are going to win.”

3. Embracing Unexpected Challenges: Success Is An Iceberg

Most people have a distaste for challenges, especially unexpected ones. High performers, on the other hand, relish unforeseen challenges because of the incredible opportunities they present.

Firefighters don’t wake up not expecting to see fire, and successful people don’t wake up not expecting to see more success.

Don’t be surprised when opportunities come knocking. Get ready, be ready, and stay ready.

The “success is an iceberg” theory comes from the Freudian idea that only 10% of your psyche is what you show to the rest of the world (the tip of the iceberg). When it comes to accomplishing goals, the same rules apply.

Sigmund Freud success is an iceberg theory


The majority of your success comes from smoothly dealing with all the little, unexpected hardships along the way. 

The mistake many people make (that you won’t) is that they see challenges as obstacles instead of necessary ingredients to success.

Challenges are where you learn, grow, and get sh*t done. If you want to get the kind of long-term results that lead to a happy life, you have to embrace unexpected problems and keep on chuggin’.


Your mission to crush life doesn't end with having good habits. Until you know yourself inside and out, there will always be a cap on how much success you can have.

Check out our Guide to Manifesting Your Dreams to help peel away the social conditioning and discover the real you