I believe we all have opportunities, skills and giftedness that will take us far beyond where we are today, but it's far from automatic.
The first thing to realize is that it takes time to succeed. Solomon says "hasty shortcuts lead to poverty." (Prov. 21:5) Athletes know this, musicians know this and artists know this. Why we seem to think we can shortcut our way to success is really amazing.
Second, Solomon also says it takes "good planning." NFL coaches don't just wake up on Sunday morning and expect to wing it. They've spent hours putting together a game plan that's based on their own strengths and the opposing teams tendencies and weaknesses.
Planning keeps you focused on the right things. It also gives you an instant burst of creativity. If you're thinking about the next day or the next week, you can't help but get inspired about how to improve things for the better.
Third, Solomon says it takes "hard work." Working your plan means putting your ideas into action, spending the time required to move you from where you are to where you want to be. One of my favorite quotations is from a fortune cookie I once broke open: "None of the secrets to success will work unless you do."
I believe work not only accomplishes our goals and brings into reality what we envisioned, it also gives us a tremendous sense of accomplishment. If you want to boost your self esteem, work a little harder.
What's the pay-off? Success, profit, achievement. All of the above. Solomon says the combination of good planning and hard work "leads to prosperity." That's a pretty good goal.