Let's hear it for Frank Oresnik! You may not know him, but he deserves some recognition. He's a Wisconsin resident who drives a Chevy Silverado truck. So far he doesn't sound so special, does he? Well, get this -- his Silverado's odometer is about to turn over its one-millionth mile.

This made me think about stock portfolios. Many times, after all, we look at our holdings and shake our heads, aware that others have been more successful in their quests to accumulate a million dollars. We wonder why our portfolios don't grow faster. We wave our angry fists at stock market downturns.

Think back to Frank Oresnik now, and ask yourself whether he's just lucky. It might seem so, but that's not the case. It's not happenstance that his truck has lasted so long; he just did things right. He took it in for oil changes and regular tune-ups. He took it to the Oil Ex-Change Quick Lube in Medford, Wis., more than 300 times, in fact -- every 3,000 miles. You might think that after a car has passed, say, 300,000 miles, an owner might let down his guard, expecting little more. But not Frank. He went by the book -- and was rewarded.

The investing book
To maximize your chances of growing a million-dollar-plus portfolio, you need to go by the book, too. You need to choose your investments carefully, and be discriminating. You need to keep up with your holdings, monitoring the companies' progress. You need to be patient, and expect some occasional market downturns. You need to pay good prices for the stocks you buy. You need to focus on investments you understand. (You can also do very, very well by selecting some top-notch mutual funds and letting their managers do the rest of the work for you.)

Finally, know that there is an element of luck, in both investing and car maintenance. Some cars will just last longer than others. Some portfolios will just perform better than others -- perhaps because of timing, perhaps because they happened to buy Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) in 1988 (which is up 17-fold since then) or Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in 1997 (up 30-fold). But you can up your odds of doing well by doing the right things.

Learn some great investing principles in these articles:

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.