Aug 19, 2015 | What do successful people say
The annual 100km March of Death, de Dodentocht, went pretty well for me, and I recommend it sincerely to everyone – especially to those who are afraid of aging. There is plenty of elderly people who are keen on sports, especially the long-distance runs and marches, and who persistently deny growing old. It is such an optimistic view to watch an 86-year old, smiling lady who is walking a 100km distance with a grace of a butterfly, laughing and joking non-stop on the way.
Anyways, today I would like to say a word about my conclusions after watching some YouTube channel that I bumped onto recently: Evan Carmichael’s series “Top 10 Rules for Success.” In this series, the author makes compilations of the ten most important rules followed by a particular person, a role model of some kind. These people are singers, sportsmen, writers, famous bloggers and motivational speakers, Nobel prize winners, inventors, entrepreneurs, and famous CEOs. Once you watch a few episodes, you quickly come up to the idea that all these people think shockingly similar. From Eminem to Steve Jobs, they all say more or less the same things over and over again, and the three most frequent pieces of advice are:
(1) Do what you love,
(2) Work hard,
(3) Ignore the littlemen.
I watched around 40-50 of those movies, and n o b o d y mentioned luck. Also, n o b o d y mentioned talent! This is surprising at first. What they were saying instead was: they will be rejecting you all the time, and you have to restlessly try again, and again and again. You should make success your duty and never stop working hard.
I have quite an ambiguous impression while listening to this glorification of hard work. This is very much the American style of thinking, and I also believe you should keep yourself busy but to me, being busy is not identical to working. To my mind, if you feel that you are working hard, you should actually quit your job straight away. This is because ‘working’ implies fatigue, and if you were doing what you really like, surrounded by the right people, you would not feel any of that.
Also, if you are overworked, you are very likely to miss opportunities. Which is not a good thing to a scientist for instance. Very often, the difference between greatness and failure is just millimeters, and you have to be clear-minded, calm, and relaxed to see these little windows of opportunity. For instance, when I was a student at the University of Warsaw, I was surrounded by a huge number of very clever people who came to students as laureates of the high school world Olympics in natural sciences. As a ‘plain’ student I had to somehow get by, and I observed them a lot. At some point, I realized that these people do not have a better memory than the majority, and they are not even better in their capacity for understanding and solving abstract problems. What these people are better at is to filter out what is important and what is not. While others were opening a 120-page textbook trying to understand and memorize every theorem, these guys were opening the same book, quickly extracting 10% content that is most fundamental and implies all the rest, and learned only that, to get the gist of the whole subject. As a consequence, they often had a less absolute amount of knowledge but better structured, and they were doing much better in the exams. I can give another example from my current experience. The point I am trying to make is: hard work? yes, but consciously. The moment you are becoming overworked and fall too much into your own world, you can accidentally become blind and step out of the path of greatness. I know many who did.