Outliers – More Work and More Luck

01/13/2012

One of the more interesting gifts I received over the holidays was an audiobook called “Outliers.” Considering all the driving I do in this crowded city on a daily basis, audiobooks just make total sense.

If you haven’t heard of the book, “Outliers” starts out as an analysis of the lives/backgrounds of people who have amassed incredible success and/or wealth. These are the people who are considered the best of the best. While considering the achievements of others, the book also provides a great opportunity to get you to analyze your own little place in the universe.

People we think of as prodigies and geniuses often are blessed with a greater inclination for whatever it is they do than the rest of us. Maybe that inclination alone makes it easier to achieve… or maybe it provides a more welcomed challenge to take those skills even further and push the envelope.

Whichever the case, there is no such thing as innate expertise. People who are reeeeaaalllly good at music, painting, sports, teaching, business, etc. also enjoy these areas and spend more time devoted to these tasks than everyone else. That’s how they get there, and that’s how they maintain their skills. But equally important is luck. If the song “Pumped Up Kicks” would have been released in, say, the mid-90s, no one would have noticed. It wouldn’t have gotten airplay, and the world would have been a better place. The chips all have to be stacked in the right order to reach that desired outcome. But we can’t forget the mantra “the harder you work, the luckier you become.”

You can read (or listen to) books like “Outliers,” “48 Laws of Power,” and “The Millionaire Next Door,” and look at how all the dots connect – this..is..what..successful..people..do. And then, for many of us, the dreamer’s disease kicks into high gear – “Yeah! I can do that! That’s not as difficult as it seems! It all makes sense now!” And that’s why those books are best sellers. They make us feel good about ourselves. We feel like our dreams are within reach but then, two weeks later, we are still telling ourselves we will start “tomorrow.”

Of course that isn’t always the case, as some people have the propensity to turn lemons into lemonade, rather than to stand there thinking “Well…uhhh…geee… I have these; now what do I do with them?” When you have those moments enough, sometimes it’s a real good kick in the pants that’ll get you going. And that’s what’s going on here. I started listening to “Outliers” and realized that I am tired of hearing myself say “I’d like to do this…I’d like to do that.” It’s amazing how some people are built to just “do” and never think twice about it. The audiobook isn’t exactly intended to be the ultimate motivational speech, as it also analyzes plane crashes and deadly, multi-generational family disputes in the South. But the scenarios of achievement presented have come at just the right time for me. It’s really gotten the gears turning a bit.

As we head closer toward the weekend, you should take a moment to consider your own goals. What makes you happy, and what would it take to make that happiness grow? Go out and snap some photos, bake a cake, dust off the piano and play, start building a website. Even if just for five minutes, do something YOU enjoy. Create your own reality, and maybe it’ll be the spark you need to turn a hobby into something more.

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