Monday, January 31, 2011

The Effort Myth Myth

People really want to believe that effort is a myth. Especially when you consider what today’s media tells us:
• Politicians and beauty queens who get by on a smile and a wink
• Lottery winners who turn a lifetime of lousy jobs into one big payday
• Sports stars who are born with skills we could never hope to acquire
• Hollywood celebrities with the talent of being in the right place at the right time
• Failed CEO’s with $40 million buyouts

It really seems, according to popular myth, that who you know and whether you get “picked” are the keys to succeed. In other words: LUCK.

The thing about luck is that it is a matter of perspective. We are INSANELY lucky to be born in the United States instead of Bangladesh. We are CRAZY lucky to have been born in this time period and not during the Black Plague. We are UNBELIEVABLY lucky to be born with the tools and opportunities we have right now and in this place. But if we set that luck aside for a minute, something interesting shows up.

Delete the extremes – the people who are hit by the bus on one side and the people who hit Megabucks on the other and we are left with everybody else. For EVERYONE else their success is not related to luck; it is related to effort. Smarter, harder working, better informed and better liked people do better than others; MOST of the time.

Effort takes many forms. Simply showing up is an important form of effort. Knowing stuff is a result of effort more than being smart. ( I know a LOT of smart people who don’t know much). Being kind when it is easier NOT to be takes effort. Paying forward without reward takes effort. Simply doing the right thing. I know, I know, you have heard this all before, so I guess it is easier to bet on luck over effort to win your future for you.

If you aren’t betting on luck then why do you make so many dumb choices? Why aren’t useful books selling at fifty times the rate they sell now? Why does anyone watch the crazy reality TV shows? Why do people do such dumb stuff with their money? Why do you not get up at 5:00am every morning?

I think we have been tricked by the extremes. Those lucky people who have their own reality TV show, or hit the lottery or megabucks, or get that great idea that Microsoft will buy for a billion bucks. We look at those exceptions who get SO MUCH more than we think they deserve and we, who deserve more, don’t get anything. Effort is a myth, right? That’s the Effort Myth Myth. Don’t be fooled by the Effort Myth.

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