Pick two? No, have all three. Excel at one. That’s the “secret” of success.
What makes a fantastically successful, world-changing game-changer like Steve Jobs* (or pick your own extraordinarily successful figure from history or current events.) According to Malcolm Gladwell, those extraordinary people in business, sports, and history are products of circumstance, intelligence, and drive. In other words if not Steve Jobs, then somebody very much like Steve Jobs would have appeared on the world stage and had just as much influence in the technology / business / design realm.
What’s not amazing is that Steve had such an influence on the world. What’s amazing is that lacking the opportunity and culture, so much of the human capital in the world lies untapped. The real question should be, why aren’t there more successful people?
In his engaging style, Malcolm takes us through a series of stories that illustrate how opportunity and hard-work combined allow “outliers”, those who have an exceptional impact in their chosen profession outside the experience of most mortals, to spring into being. He begins by pointing out how most National Hockey League players are born in January, and explaining why this is significant. (At age 10, eleven months of growth is significant, and promising players get more attention, which sets them up for more success and more attention. More than their peers in the same cadre.)
The biggest surprise for me in reading this book is how little intelligence plays a role in success. More precisely, how there is no direct correlation between IQ and success. Yes, you have to be smart, but beyond a certain point being smarter does not make you more successful. Hard work, focused practice of your chosen craft, and the luck or opportunity to use those skills have a greater influence.
This is good news for those of us who do work hard, learn, and apply that learning every day. Now I just have to get lucky. Excuse me while I go review my contact list for relationships that I’ve taken for granted.
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