“If it is to be it is up to me.” ~ Senator Cory Booker
I heard the quote while listening to ‘On Being’ with Krista Tippet’s Podcast .
Great Success = a little more talent + a lot of luck ~ Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his 2011 (my copy) book Thinking, Fast and Slow says “Success = Talent + Luck.” Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers says it a little differently, but basically that, “… outliers in a particular field reached their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly arbitrary advantage.”
“Great Success = a little more talent + a lot of luck” ~ Daniel Kahneman
In the U.S., we like to reward hard work. We want to say that people who put in Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” (from the Outliers book) of practice and toil will be successful. People who expend this much time hope to be successful. And they may be successful—if they are lucky.
Leaving so much to luck is a hard pill to swallow!
We would like to know that at the end of the athlete’s daily three-, four-, or five-hour practice sessions for ten or more years, the athlete will take a Gold Medal at the Olympics. Wait. They have to get to the Olympics first. Sometimes they luck into it by doing particularly well on one day of trials. Alternatively, someone else breaks a leg or sprains an ankle. Good luck. Bad luck. It’s luck.
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his famous musical pieces in the 1700s. Talented. Yes, but he was lucky enough to be born into a musical family. However, both his mother and father died (bad luck!) when he was nine, but he moved in with his older brother (good luck) because it led to some (fortuitous) events that enhanced his musicality to our benefit.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell recounts the 10,000 hours + lucky paths of The Beatles and Bill Gates and many more successful outliers—in this case, people who are “situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body.”
Tony Robbins has another view on luck:
“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.”~ Tony Robbins
The difference is that Tony Robbins seems to imply that preparation and opportunity have a causal relation to luck. Gladwell (and I think Kahneman) would argue that you’re lucky to be in a position to spend your 10,000 hours of preparation in the first place—like Bach, maybe. It’s a nuanced, but important variation in viewpoint.
I offered a similar sentiment, coming from yet another position in my May 23, 2018, post entitled “Life’s A Crapshoot.” I was not looking at success at all, but rather that luck is a fact of life from the very beginning. (I was adopted.) We want to have control over who we are, but we do not. Sometimes that’s great. Sometimes, it’s terrible. Either way, it is frequently plain dumb luck.
Bottom line: I wish you luck. Both kinds. Why? Because sometimes it is by bad luck that we happen on to good luck. I also encourage you to spend your 10,000 hours to master your art, craft, science, etc., but I don’t want you to think that’s your only path. We have many multiples of 10,000 hours during an average lifetime. Perhaps you want to try your luck at something else. There’s no harm in trying. In fact, it may very well be your luck to fail at the first attempt so you can succeed at whatever’s next.
Photo by Pixabay on aPexels.com
4 Acronyms to Challenge Our Thinking and Prevent Absorption by Artificial Intelligence (AI)
WIIFM — What’s In It For Me?
WIIFU — What’s In It For Us?
WYSIWYG — What You See Is What You Get
WYSIATI — What You See Is All There Is
A thought piece by Kathryn Atkins at Writing World, LLC
WIIFM: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
When selling to a prospect, a seasoned salesperson will put the presentation in terms of what the customer wants: WIIFM. This is a proper strategy for communicating value in a Business to Consumer BtoC interaction.
WIIFU: WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
When selling to an organization, whether non-profit or for-profit, a salesperson or business entity will take into consideration that most companies consist of teams of people, collaborators, work groups, and associates in departments that create a more inclusive sense of us. People selling in the Business to Business, BtoB, space are selling to us. It’s not WIIFM but WIIFU.
If we are not selling a product, we may be offering an idea. For online content, then, we want to remember that the question on everyone’s invisible electronic lips is also: “WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?” WIIFU? Why should we engage? Why should we listen? What can you help us do? For the salesperson or the online company creating content, today, this is a harder question to answer, but one that should not be overlooked.
WYSIWYG: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
The idea of WYSIWYG has an element of transparency. Honesty. Trust. This is what you are getting. That’s it. No changes. No switcheroos. No “We were just kidding.” The WYSIWYG model has an element of Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” Online and in person marketers will be successful if they are careful to engage WYSIWYG as they go to market. No one likes bait and switch.
WYSIATI: WHAT YOU SEE IS ALL THERE IS
Daniel Kahneman coined the term WYSIATI in his groundbreaking book Thinking, Fast and Slow to introduce us to our bias to make quick decisions by thinking we have all the information we need. It’s an overconfidence Achilles heel that can undermine better decision-making on the one hand, but it can also prove to move us more quickly through the decision cycle. In the old days, they used to call it shooting from the hip. Now we have an acronym for it.
BOTTOM LINE: Business and Life Trends summary. I hope these four acronyms encourage you to reconsider how your customers, prospects, and business social circles see you and how you present your company and your business persona. Of course, we are not our businesses. We are thinking, feeling beings. It is vital that we become aware of our thinking and of how people around us think and feel as we approach the precipice of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We need to know ourselves more surely and more intimately if we are to keep ahead of the bots.
I had so much fun.
The top left photo is of my husband Don and my son Ted with me at the Gatsby Books signing. Next on the left, friends Tim and Nancy Thomas, and then my brother Bob and me. The threesome at the bottom are my friends, Dave Fleck, Candice Brandt, and Jim Larkin.
Above is a photo of me with with my crazy “pinwheel” pens for giveaways.
I look forward to another one soon.
“. . . I’m the bear standing in the woods with a bullseye on his chest . . .”
My late sixties present me with the most ridiculous angst I’ve felt since I was sixteen. I am no longer a child of forty, and I am not an adult of eighty. Thus, I am an “adolescent” again. Why does it come up now? It dawned on me (after my 50th—there, I said it—high school reunion, for God’s sake) that at this age, we are older, but we are fighting oldness. Gray hair is dyed, colored, and maybe highlighted; straightened and softened to disguise the crinkly, wiry, dry mass that passes for hair. Why don’t I have the soft, pretty kind like my mom did? Dunno. I’m sure it’s because my hair, an enemy of over six decades, does this because it has its own devious mind. My hair knows exactly what irks me.
I have a target on my forehead. I feel like I’m the bear standing in the woods with a bullseye on his chest if you’ve ever seen that cartoon. It’s the target for anti-aging marketers to spot me from 10,000 feet. They don’t need for me to wear the target, though. It’s written in the sneaky wrinkles around my eyes and mouth, and the other ill-mannered houseguests with stupid sunglasses that appeared on my neck and cheeks one day when I wasn’t paying attention. They didn’t have the courtesy to leave.
So, it’s not just the cosmetics products folks; it’s also the dermatologists and estheticians that swear their methods for finding the fountain of youth surpass the others’. For all the Botox treatments, eyelifts, ear-lifts (yes, they have those), and nose jobs, there are face creams and treatments to use between or instead of the unnerving, daunting “cures.” (I would share my chemical peel photos with you, but you’d probably run screaming for the Halloween bar. Yes, I had one. Why? Because I’m still in my adolescence, of course, experimenting as adolescents do.)
Since we’re talking, I thought I might share more nice perspectives to cheer you up. You may be happily getting Botox, chemical peels, and other fine facial procedures to try to fool the calendar, but I’m going to burst your bubble. Are you sitting down? Here goes: There are some telltale signs of advancing age that cannot be removed. As one of my “good” friends said, “You just have to look at someone’s hands to see if they’re old.” Thanks. Thanks so much. I needed that. I have tried to hold my hands above my elbows during pictures to keep from having those lovely blue veins pop out on the back of my hands. Sometimes, though, this is not a good strategy. As in when you’re playing the piano. Or maybe you’re doing a cooking demonstration or giving a knitting lesson. (People still knit. By hand. They do.)
More perspectives: (Spoiler alert.) Hanging, crinkly skin. Yes. Even though we go to the gym, do our due-diligence with weights, on machines, and at endless classes, we are stuck with crinkly skin that hangs off our healthy, osteoporosis-free skeletons if we’re lucky. Yes, we put on lotion. Yes, we tone and stretch. We are limber from yoga. Our lungs are aerobically healthy. Our butts are holding their own underneath. However, the skin that keeps the rest of us in has an un-ironed look about it.
So, when you’re a teenager, you’re dealing with zits, braces, and big ears. The difference is that as a teenager, the zits eventually disappear, the braces come off, and somewhere along the way you grow into your ears. As I age, my wrinkles will not disappear. In fact, they will multiply. Like rabbits. My teeth will get thinner. And my ears AND nose, longer. My hands? More gnarly. (Great word, right?)
What? Get over myself. This is a first world problem, you say? Well, yes, but it’s real to me. Adolescence. Again. Merde! I didn’t like my teen years when I was experiencing them, and I thought I was done. I’m back in them again. And I’d like to think I’m above it all! “I got this,” I say to my face in the mirror, the unrelenting mirror. “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is that ancient person in the shawl?” The mirror is no help. No help at all. Her best advice is to turn off the lights. Would that all rooms were dark!
I look around me at the people with gray hair. I compare. Oh, that’s dumb. At least I’m not that old, I say to myself. But my next thought is: I will be there soon. I saw a young woman today. OMG. “I used to look like that,” I say. Well, that’s nonsense. I NEVER looked like THAT. Who am I kidding? She was model beautiful. Why do I make this comparison? This thing called aging —even healthy aging, where I’m dancing flamenco and walking miles and doing yoga —is taking too much of my mental energy. It robs me of creativity. It stifles my serenity.
So as with my teens, I know that eventually, the between-ness will pass. I can achieve the next stage and relax into it—gracefully, happily, peacefully. That makes sense. If we fight the force of nature, we tend to carry an aura of angry (I hear it’s a mustard color), which by itself can make us look older and feel worse. (Who wants to look like mustard?)
I suggest that you read Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. It’s an homage to living well even as it describes the terminal nature of our lives. We are lucky if we get to experience old age before we die. Dr. Gawande says it better, page 141. “The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one’s life—to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be.” I’m going to embrace the idea of maintaining my integrity by defining “a good day” in my terms and attempting to attain that. Every day. I will not worry about adolescence. Terrible twos. Teens. Twenties. Middle age. They’re stages, each with their challenges. This aging thing is just another stage. Maintaining my integrity is the goal. That’s all.
We are inundated with content all day long. We are buried in promotions. Suffocating from inbound. Struggling to create outbound. So because writing is all around us, it seems that it is an easy thing to do. But it’s not. WRITING is not easy. Good writing is really, really hard.
- People write emails all day long. They’re writing. Right? No. It’s not WRITING. On the other hand…
- Writing is not surgery. Good writing isn’t either. But writing is important. (Examples: The U.S. Constitution, The Bible, The Koran, etc.). And it may save lives as in well-written checklists like those in Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto or an instruction manual for electrical wiring.
Writing may save lives.
- You need a license to practice surgery. And while you do not need one to write, you do need a license to drive a car and to be officially married.
- Did you think about the fact that you do not need a license to have a child?
Having a license sets people apart. It denotes a level of proficiency. Yet, even after obtaining a license, people practice what they have learned to become good at it. Doctors, dentists, and lawyers have “practices.” Professional musicians practice. Dancers, actors and other people who are not licensed practice long hours to attain the level for which they can be paid… as a professional. Writers do, too.
People struggle to write well. Professional writers struggle more. Tennis players strive to play well. Professional tennis players strive harder and longer. Professional golfers and painters (or anyone who needs the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours of practice to be really good) do not have licenses but compete to be deemed the best at what they do. Writers that write for 10,000 hours do not always get their books published by one of the big publishing houses. That also takes luck. (And luck is also a Malcolm Gladwell Outlier ingredient for success.)
Good writing is not easy. We can try to write more because we think more is better. However, practicing long hours is only helpful if it’s correct practice. Because so many people write all day long, they may think they will become better at it. Yes. Better. But to be a really good writer, people can take a class. Buy a book on writing. Enter contests, and seek legitimate publishing venues. Or they can hire a professional writer to write with them.
Bottom line: Really good writing is extremely hard to do. There is no license to be a writer. Masters and Doctorate degrees—yes. Otherwise, the proof is in the publishing. In clarity and voice and tone. However, the real proof: the pleasure of reading good writing of any kind.
Has anyone noticed besides me? When I first started writing professionally, the rule was “only one exclamation point on a page.” What happened? The little devils sneak into so many places, they’re like ants, crawling through paragraphs carrying their dead and dropping them here and there, I guess. I don’t know. Exclamation points are everywhere. (I had to restrain from an exclamation point on that last sentence because it’s all too easy to fall in the trap, the habit of it.)
The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” Do not use even one of these marks unless you’re convinced it is justified. Here’s the problem:
If everything is important, nothing is important.
In business writing and journalism, the exclamation point is not appropriate. So…what do you do? Make your writing provocative without the use of the little buggers. Using great verbs helps.
What else? Use exclamation points sparingly, one per page (like they said in the old days) so that when the mark appears, it means something. Whatever the subject, the single mark on the page will stand out… not shout, but speak loudly for readers that are paying attention. Even for those that aren’t aware of it consciously, they will sense it.
In writing as in many endeavors, it’s the little things that make a difference. The professional writer knows. We share. People grow. It’s good.
More to the point (pun intended) what does it say about society that we have to make everything astonishing? It says we have too much content and everyone wants theirs to be the best, the newest, the “mostest.” So we rely on this lowly mark, this unassuming line/dot that has suddenly found its way into the limelight, like the people who have recently died (Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, et al) who have become even more famous from a Social Media blitz that elevates these two, albeit already-famous personae, to demigoddesses. Over the top. Trop. Excess. It’s a way of life, and the exclamation point is but a symptom of the malaise. It seems we simply can’t leave things alone to stand on their own two feet. I am contributing content here, but at least I am not going to try to escalate the importance of this rant by inserting an exclamation mark somewhere to prove the point, so to speak. For the record, it seems that more exclamation points would be the next step… as in the title. But when does it stop?????
I’m done now. I think.