Have You Been Chosen to be Successful?
Think about the most admired and successful individual ever for you.
Each person will have a different response. Some will base success on wealth, others prestige, and some plain ol’ happiness.
Now, what adjectives come to mind with this individual? ‘Intelligent,’ ‘Creative,’ ‘Forward Thinker,’ ‘Lucky,’…..
“Lucky?” Do you think of the most successful as “lucky?” or “chosen for success.”
Are the Successful “Chosen for Success”
I was having this discussion with a friend of mine last Saturday over drinks (and a gluten-free lava cake, surprisingly good!). He has a successful real estate company and he kept saying how “fortunate” he was for the opportunities he’s had.
Now, he works very hard for his business and his money and he’s good at what he does. It’s great he’s thankful for the opportunities he’s received, but can he attribute much of it to being “fortunate.”
He cited his view from the book, “Outliers: the Story of Success,” (Malcolm Gladwell)(non-affliate). As of 12/12, I have not read the book yet, but definitely intrigued.
According to the description on Amazon, his main gist is :
“Superstars don’t arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: “they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.”
If you’ve read my stuff, you know I am a big follower of Napoleon Hill. He asserts that if you focus on what you desire to an obsession, you can achieve what you want whether it’s wealth, fame or more.
So this new mindset threw me for a loop and I told him, “No, you’re not fortunate, you just work harder than everyone else. You create your own opportunities and luck.”
If you introduce serendipity, luck will find you. If not, luck will just be mixed series of one-night stands.
I’m a huge component that you are the Entrepreneur of your Life (it’s in the tagline), and yes, sometimes you need some fortunate circumstances and the help of others.
But those circumstances arise after you have taken action and put sweat equity into your work and relationships.
But to think you were given something others do not, I can’t go for the idea.
Are you born with these traits?
Now I’m not looking to attack my friend (as I will surely send him this article), I love a great discussion about business and mindset.
Since he’s in real estate, he responded saying “Well, I started working on and selling houses in mid-2010. If I was born a couple years earlier, I would be trying to sell in ’07 and ’08 and my properties would be worth nothing.”
On a similar note, in the book, Gladwell talks about Steve Jobs and other tech pioneers who were all born in the same period. Jobs was “fortunate” to be born in that era, while younger techies will not have the same opportunity since they were born later.
Your life is defined by every instance and experience you encounter. Each circumstance molds your character and it’s your choice what virtues and vices will play out in your life.
You could spend your life imagining the hypothetical. If my friend was born now, perhaps present technology would inspire him to build a tech company instead of a real estate. Or perhaps he could have been the next John Lennon, Babe Ruth, who knows.
It’s a backward-thinking mindset. Instead of thinking “What could be..” you’re spending energy thinking about “What could have been…”
Now, everyone isn’t born in the same conditions, status, or location, but the question remains, are some people born with:
- A Better Work Ethic?
- Entrepreneurial Drive?
- Desire for Success and Happiness?
- A Hunger for Increased Intelligence and Knowledge?
Are you born with those traits, are they infused in you during your childhood. Can you learn them?
Path of Least Resistance
“The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” – Henry David Thoreau
Many argue we are ingrained with this principle. A quick definition, paraphrased from Mark Cuban’s book, is when given the choice, we automatically will take the easy choice.
But, Gladwell seems to argue there are the few and successful who “missed” this principle in their genes, and so they have “hidden advantages” all the rest of us don’t have.
In the same way some will be born with a High IQ and others a Low IQ, some will be born with the 4 traits listed above and others will not.
This can’t be right, as there are many examples of rags to riches stories and vice versa.
It doesn’t come down to “he has the drive and I don’t.” The problem is Discipline. The path of least resistance destroys discipline and also opportunities.
It’s easier to watch TV then work on your writing, it’s easier to huddle with your friends at a networking event than it is look for someone that could be great to speak with.
And we can’t beat ourselves up when we do succumb to this path, but to use it as an excuse for not achieving what your definition of success is…Not buying it.
Is it easier to just complain about how “they got it made” then to Invest in Yourself and build the life you want to live? Of course it is.
The human race wouldn’t have survived if someone didn’t step up and put in the time and effort to better the world around himself/herself.
I was happy to engage in this brief discussion with my friend. I’ll definitely need to check out the book to get the other side’s perspective.
For certain, I know it was his work and dedication which created his luck and good fortune. He wasn’t “chosen” to succeed at what he does.
He told me a story that really hit home what I was thinking:
While working out of state for a time, many of his friends wanted to go out all the time and get smashed.
He had his fun in college, but was ready for other opportunities. So, he went to the library instead of the bar, and read and invested in himself new ideas and skills which he translated into what he was passionate about, a real estate business.
Was he born with a desire to consume Literature over Tequila? No, he made that choice. He was ready to start his life after college, and that’s Discipline with a sprinkle of Forward-thinking.
The easy path is to go out and have fun, but will that path ever translate into your happiness?
It’s easy to look at him and say, “he’s lucky he’s good at what he does.” But they don’t see his countless hours reading and teaching himself the skills he now wields for his business.
Are some people “Blessed” with Talents to be successful? Have you had a major life change that you took control of your life like an entrepreneur and made it your own? Leave a comment below! Or share this with someone you know that may need a nudge in the right direction.
UPDATE: Thanks for these sites for including this post in their favorites!:
- Modest Money
- Work Save Live
- Fearless Men
Very interesting article and point. I think that some people do have natural talents that help them to be successful. But I think that more people may have these talents than we think, and circumstances play a big part in bringing out their drive. In order to be an “outlier” I think that having some sort of combination of these two things helps a lot. Drive and self-discipline are still very important though. I’ll have to read this book as well.
Hey Dave, Thanks for dropping in. Yeah I’ll definitely need to check it out as well.
I would argue that everyone has a certain skill that makes them successful. What “skill” brings success, perhaps you paint well but I draw better ( I’m speaking in a general sense). Every skill is scalable and worth something.
We’re ingrained to think attractive people are going to be more successful than the others. Is that true? Its a fascinating topic…But also stuff we tell ourselves 😀
Nice post dude! Golden Tickets make me think of Willy Wonka! 🙂
Now I want chocolate…
John S @ Frugal Rules
Good post and great points! To play a bit of devil’s advocate I would say that it’s a combination of the two. Make no doubt, hard work does pay off and can help you reach limitless possibilities. However, I don’t think it all comes down to hard work. We’ve all been gifted with different talents and skills that can make some more predisposed to achieving success or just plain being fortunate. You can bust your hump day in and day out and just kill it but make it no where and not have success, which is where being self-aware and willing to analyze yourself and your actions become vital.
In the end, I think anything worth while is going to take hard work. Very hard work. Running my own business I know this to be true and is so much more satisfying to accomplish something when I know that I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into it.
Hey John, Thanks for giving some insight!
Great to hear another business owner’s insight. I agree hard work, especially if not properly directed, will not always produce results.
You say that some have talents and skills that make some more predisposed to success/being fortunate. This is where successful and unsuccessful break off, as Successful people take the skills they are best at and strengthen those, and then form a “Master Mind” group that are best at the other things.
All are working hard but using different skills but achieving results. Steve Jobs wasn’t a great programmer but had Woz to do that while Steve was best at sales and presentations. Henry Ford was uneducated, but used his creative mind to design the first “Ford,” and the “educated” stuff he had a group of Prestigious College Grads do that.
You definitely need more than yourself to reach the top, I’m for that, but to say that 1 person has a skillset that will make them more successful than myself is where I differ.
Love a great discussion! Thanks John!
I agree with John, it’s a little bit of both I think. I’ve worked my butt off for everything I have but I also like to think I come from some pretty good, hard working genes too…BUT I have a friend who has her cards stacked against her from the day she was born- alcoholic mother, negligent father- she’s now a doctor. She’s paved her own way in life on her own accord. Good post 🙂
Thanks for your insight and dropping in.
It’s true some people come from rougher backgrounds then others, but isn’t the key to being successful is how you respond to such circumstances and not be defined by them? You could definitely start an argument about traumatic childhood experiences “messing” you up for life.
But others resign themselves to that life, just as trust-fund babies may resign themselves to be lazier and live off their parents.
It’s definitely a topic that could be discussed forever! 😀 Thanks Catherine!
Interesting post! I also think it takes will and luck. Abraham Lincoln once said,“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” So I think we have to put ourselves in a position to be fortunate. One of my favorite verses is James 2:14 and it talks about faith without works being dead.
Hey John, thanks again for featuring the post!
I’m with you, you make your own luck. No one is born lucky, but willing to put themselves out there for luck to find them.
Those who play the lottery are hoping they find luck (and only a small, small percentage ever do), so go the other way and work to have luck find you!
It takes both luck and motivation. I think motivation at the end though will win out. People who are motivated will come up with creative ways to stand up again no matter how many times they fall.
If you don’t know how to use the luck you get or able to see the opportunity when it hits, that’s a problem too!
Thanks for your thoughts!