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You woke up this morning as a graduate—the first day of the rest of your life. Has your career started? If you want to exceed your targeted success goals, you should be at least two years into your career today. The last two years of your formal education should have just been about finishing a commitment to a degree, an insurance policy against things going wrong, and you have to go out and look for any job to support yourself. You should find a career by your junior year, even if you offer to work as a low-paid/unpaid intern. Kudos if you score a real paid job while finishing your education.
Why You Should Overlap Education and Career
An academic education is an inadequate preparation for productivity in natural free-market capitalism. The people teaching you have often not experienced exceptional success in the real free market. You are subjected to a lot of academic critical theory, ways to research, learn independently, and muster the discipline to focus on getting a job done on time. By overlapping real career experience, you can get more out of both while jump-starting your career.
No Career Yet
A good way of narrowing your education to prepare for a specific career is to take career aptitude tests overlayed with IQ strength tests to determine your competitive advantages to succeed in a given career. To complete your career selection, consider how much money you can expect to make in the free market with your career capabilities, a simple internet search for job offers. Could you ensure you can cover the self-sufficient lifestyle you want for yourself?
If you still do not have a career, to use an analogy, it is like when you decide to dive/jump off the high dive at the swimming pool for the first time. After all, it is only one story over the pool's deep end. You climb the ladder, and as you walk out on the slightly unstable board, it looks much higher than one story from up here; you decide to jump feet first, not dive head first. Your primary skills give you the confidence to jump into the deep water, and you can swim well enough to leave the pool. Your performance is nothing more significant than awkward and ordinary, which is hardly noticed by anyone who may have witnessed it.
Now, if you like diving and have become aware of mental and physical abilities that give you an advantage, you may train and compete, spending thousands of hours to become an Olympic Champion; the free market of Olympic sports may reward you with marketable fame.
The first-time diver is like the graduate with the primary skills required to survive the jump from the diving board, like finding a job in a free market, but not the knowledge, hard work, passion, and hours of practice needed to be competitive enough in a free market of others to reach your level of success, income to live the way you want to. Your level of success because individual success is very personal in a healthy, diverse society. A successful life involves progressive victories intermingled with learning experiences, which are failures to succeed. You decide the level of success you want in your life. One success every non-disabled person should achieve is making enough money in a free market to support the life they wish to have.
Factors of a Successful Life
"Outliers: The Story of Success" is one of my favorite books by Malcolm Gladwell, where Malcolm analyses the factors that lead to success in life.
Effort (Persistence Quotient)
Meaningful, educational work
He analyses factors such as IQ (but PQ, persistence quotient, is more critical), opportunity (e.g., Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born at the start of the computer revolution), timing (the right place at the right time), family (support and wealth of experiences), culture (certain cultures value specific skills and traits more than others), and effort, PQ (hours of meaningful practice).
Knowledge and Self-Help
Malcolm does not mention knowledge, which we usually associate with education. Indeed, he realizes that knowledge is necessary for success. Note also that his book is rich in examples of how prominent people reached success, but this is not a how-to or self-help book. This is a brilliant book, as Malcolm wanted to stimulate the readers to dig deep within themselves to find their plan for the level of success they are after. Access to the internet and AI has put knowledge at our fingertips today. Once you learn how to learn, you are as good as being in whatever college class you desire. It may be some time before you find knowledge recognized without a college degree. Those who go down the self-learning route must work cleverly and hard to overcome this fact; remember, it is knowledge and practice, PQ, not so much IQ.
Persistence, PQ, is measured in hours spent progressively practicing what you want to be successful doing for a living. One of the significant messages of Malcolm's book is the "10,000 Hour Rule". Malcolm noticed that one common fact to all highly successful people was that their PQ, time spent progressively practicing, totaled 10,000 hours before they achieved extraordinary free market success. That is the cost of substantial, sustainable success in our society.
Gladwell's Examples of the "10,000-Hour Rule"
“Is the ten-thousand-hour rule a general rule of success? Suppose we scratch below the surface of every great achiever. Do we always find the equivalent of the Bill Joy Michigan Computer Center or the hockey all-star team—some special opportunity for practice?”
The band was formed in 1957 by teenagers Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Ten years later, with new band members Ringo Star and George Harrison, The Beatles reached the pinnacle of their success. What was the unique opportunity for practice?
From Liverpool to Strip Club in Hamburg, Germany
In 1960, the one-hour performance high school band received an offer, not much money, to perform eight hours a day, seven days a week, in a Hamburg, Germany strip club. Over a year and a half, they performed 270 times.
“We got better and got more confidence. We couldn’t help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy for them to be foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over it. In Liverpool, we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at everyone. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours, so we had to find a new way of playing.”
Practicing so much with the feedback of an audience that was hard to attract attention from was just a situation suited to develop greatness. By 1964, the Beatles performed over 1,200 shows before their first commercial success in 1964. Ten thousand hours sounds like a long time to reach top performance, but the good news is that your persistence will pay off in the long run.
Bill Gates and Microsoft
Bill Gates had advantages. His family was supportive and wealthy. He could attend a private high school with a computer club when many colleges did not have such clubs. His father was a wealthy attorney, and his mother's father was a wealthy banker. Bill Gates learned to program in the eighth grade in 1968 and spent many grave shift hours on the University of Washington computer when he was fifteen.
“Opportunity number one was that Gates got sent to Lakeside. How many high schools worldwide had access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968? Opportunity number two was that the mothers of Lakeside had enough money to pay for the school’s computer fees. Number three was that when that money ran out, one of the parents worked at C-Cubed, which happened to need someone to check its code on the weekends and did not care if weekends turned into weeknights. Number four was that Gates just happened to find out about ISI, and ISI happened to need someone to work on its payroll software. Number five was that Gates lived within walking distance of the University of Washington. Number six was that the university happened to have free computer time between three and six in the morning. Number seven was that TRW happened to call Bud Pembroke. Number eight was that the best programmers Pembroke knew for that particular problem happened to be two high school kids. And number nine was that Lakeside was willing to let those kids spend their spring term miles away, writing code.“And what did virtually all of those opportunities have in common? They gave Bill Gates extra time to practice. By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year to try his hand at his own software company, he’d been programming practically nonstop for several consecutive years. He was way past ten thousand hours.”
The 10,000-Hour Rule is one of many ways to be successful; there are plenty of exceptions. So, If it is not happening for you, focused practice, all the while progressively improving, may be just what it takes.
Conclusion Written by AI
In conclusion, success is not an accident but the result of careful planning, hours of dedication, and seizing the right opportunities. Just as The Beatles honed their craft through relentless practice and Bill Gates capitalized on unique opportunities, anyone can cultivate success by focusing on their strengths, pursuing their passion, and committing to the "10,000 Hour Rule" of dedicated practice.
Remember, the journey of success is personal and highly dependent on your individual goals, values, and ambitions. While societal standards of success often focus on wealth and prestige, defining success on your terms is essential. Whether that means becoming a renowned artist, a successful entrepreneur, or a dedicated public servant, your path to success lies in your hands.
Committing to lifelong learning is more important than ever in this rapidly changing world. The knowledge and skills you gain through education and experience will be your most valuable assets as you navigate the path toward your goals. Remember, every step you take and every hour you invest brings you closer to your unique version of success. Embrace the journey, learn from your failures, and strive for your goals. Success is a marathon, not a sprint, and every step forward counts.