Nobody is "Born a Success"

Published on August 6th, 2016

There is no question that a world record holder such as Usain Bolt was born with an extraordinary amount of raw talent. However, what most of us fail to see are the years upon years of blood, sweat, and tears that go into an Olympic level training regiment to take all that potential and convert it to a world class performance.

It's easy to idolize those that have accomplished amazing things in their lifetimes: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Michael Phelps, etc. However, none of them were born a success. None of them had something innate in their DNA that guaranteed they would achieve greatness and inspire everyone around them.

At every moment in their life, every one of them could have made different choices. They could have picked a different career path. They could have decided to get in with the wrong crowd. They could have quit when the going was tough. They could have made a different choice at any one of the thousands of "fork in the road" situations that pop up in life.

At every moment in their life, random chance events could have pushed them into a different direction. They could have one the lotto. They could have gotten in an accident. Any number of "acts of god" could have stopped or diverted them.

Raw talent is amazing, but I went to college with plenty of geniuses that ran out of motivation or made some questionable life choices that caused them to spiral out of control. And while talent may give you an advantage, it never a guarantee.

In my experience, we overestimate talent, underestimate determination, and are unaware of the effects of random chance and deliberate choices in determining how successful we are in life.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.