Friday, July 12, 2013

Let's talk about success.

What defines success? Who is successful and how did they get there?

These questions may be answered a million different ways, but never have I come to understand the perfect recipe for success until I read Outliers.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell speaks directly to the question of how one becomes successful. It mentions that a successful individual is made up of several components: a dash of intelligence, a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, and most importantly, luck.

Gladwell notes that Bill Gates, the Beatles, Bill Joy and others became successful and incredibly talented at what they do, not just because of their DNA (of course that is part of it), but because of  the countless opportunities they "happened upon" throughout their lives. Outliers explains that if Bill Gates' parents had not chosen to send him to one of the few high schools in the world that had access to a time-sharing terminal (a.k.a. the school had access to a computer that was beyond its years) then he wouldn't have been able to practice programming every day after school. Another example is if the Beatles weren't initially invited to play in Hamburg, then they wouldn't have had the opportunity to play 270 nights in just over a year. I don't need to say it, but that's a lot of time to practice! No wonder they were so good...

Without opportunities like these who knows what kind of world we would live in... a world without the Beatles' musical genius or a world without Microsoft?

Malcolm Gladwell's definition of success opened my mind to the idea that success can stem from anywhere and at anytime. Some people work their entire lives and never become "world renowned" and it's not because they aren't working hard. They simply haven't found themselves in an outlier situation or a situation of extreme opportunity.

It's ok that we all define success differently. What's important is to understand how those that deem themselves successful got there in the first place.

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