Day #59:The Lies About Talent and Success

Try to picture Thomas Edison as vividly as you can. Think about where he is and what he’s doing. Is he alone? Most people would said things like this:

“He’s in New Jersey. He’s standing in a white coat in a lab-type room. He’s leaning over a light bulb. Suddenly, it works! [Is he alone?] Yes. He’s kind of a reclusive guy who likes to tinker on his own.”

In truth, the record shows quite a different fellow, working in quite a different way.

Edison was not a loner. For the invention of the light bulb, he had 30 assistants, including well-trained scientists, often working around the clock in a corporate funded state-of-the-art laboratory!

It did not happen suddenly. The light bulb has become the symbol for that single moment when the brilliant solution strikes, but there was no single moment of invention. In fact, the light bulb was not one invention, but a whole network of time-consuming inventions each requiring one or more chemists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and glass blowers.

Yes, Edison was a genius. But he was not always one. His biographer, Paul Israel, sifting through all the available information, thinks he was more or less a regular boy of his time and place. …What eventually set him apart was his mindset and drive… There are many myths about ability and achievement, especially about the lone, brilliant person suddenly producing amazing things.

When we think of ‘successful’ people, we only think about how smart they are,how talented they were and how only few people could ever reach that level.In reality, most ‘successful’ people have a blend of  the following: a bit of talent, a lot of hard work,perseverance and grit,opportunity, being at the right place at the right time and in most cases luck.

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