The secret of success

Actually, there is no secret. It’s as old as the punch line of the old joke about the tourist asking the New York cab driver how to get to Carnegie Hall: “Practice, practice, practice.” Pulling together evidence of the obvioius, Fortune’s Geoffrey Colvin provides some required reading on the current research on the topic. I think most of us would prefer to believe that success is random, or reserved only for some super-talented genius or gifted artist or thinker, or, better yet, luck. However, this quote from the article about sums it up:

“You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.”

Update: Ironically, I just ran across a survey of 200 U.S. entrepreneurs (link to PDF of survey results) that says they believe an “innate drive” is the basis of their entrepreneurial bent. I guess that’s like having it both ways: Working hard, practicing, determination are the keys to success. But one has to be born with an “innate drive” to do those things. This is why I don’t like surveys. You send out a survey to 200 entrepreneurs and ask, “to what do you attribute your entrepreneurial bent?” Of course, they will say they were born with it. Just because the majority of respondents have no clue why they do the things they do, does that make their answer correct? Unless they’ve been through years of psychoanalysis, chances are the survey takers have no idea why they are motivated to do what they do, so of course they say it is innate. Sorry for the rant. Don’t know what got into me this afternoon. I suppose I just had an innate drive to post it.

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