Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Art of Doing

Like many of us, the authors, Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield were trying to figure out the way to success.  They were able to contact a number of successful people and convince them to tell us how they did it. A wide variety of success stories in such fields as tennis, baseball, business, wine growing, music.  Going off standard success stories they also included marijuana, erotic movies for women, dog training, television game shows, blog writing, big game hunting.  The variety chosen illustrates there is more than one way to succeed.  Many of the subjects were allowed to express themselves in crude, but easily understandable ways.

Success can be measured in many ways, most easily in terms of money or ranking.  In this book success meant being at the top, or near the top for a chosen endeavour.  For me a lot of the fields would not be of strong interest, but the critical factor is that each field was important to the teller and how they got to the top or near the top had significant common denominators as well as a strong effort.

Given a different set of successful contributors you would have gotten different details, but I suspect the general themes would be similar.  The underlying factor was that each person felt a unique calling to conquer a particular field.  Monetary profit was not the primary driving factor.  A motivating spur was just to do it better.

In order to do that the authors use the phrase that they all had" intelligent persistence."  That doesn't mean that you need to keep banging your head on the proverbial wall, but when an obstacle is insurmountable you are ready to pivot to a new and strategic effort.  There are sure to be setbacks, but they help to redirect efforts.

The successful ones are all good listeners.  Other people have made similar efforts or are able to take an objective view of the challenges and can help steer someone in a more practical direction.  Taking the time to really listen is an important key to understanding the choices to be made.

They are able to compact their strategies into story form.  A lot of statistics and facts can overwhelm someone you are trying to explain yourself too, but a well thought out story can make a point much more quickly and understandably.  A lot of the stories are very interesting, maybe especially in fields not commonly written about.

Nobody succeeded all by themselves, despite what Mitt Romney supporters might tell you.  Each of the success stories involved support from family, friends and colleagues.

One quote I want to remember is from E. L Doctorow (not one of the subjects).  "Writing is like driving a car at night.  You only see as far as the headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way."  It seems that we can not always see the end of our efforts, but if we keep going we get a better vision as we go forward.

The chapters are all short and to the point.  The variety means you will likely identify with some more than others, but if you pay close attention you will realize there are many niches out there that you can strive in to not only be successful, but also to give your life more meaning.

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