Why Some People Are Almost Always Successful.

Last night I could not sleep, so I decided to watch the pilot episode of the original Star Trek series.

Star Trek

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I was surprised by what I witnessed:

  • Kirk was not the Captain. Captain Pike was in charge and the only recognizable character was Mr. Spock–no Bones, Scotty, or Sulu.
  • The special effects were awful (e.g. rocks on the planet surface looked like paper mache from the set of a middle school play).
  • It was fairly risqué for the time (this was 45 years ago).

The pilot was almost comically bad. Mercifully, it was not included in the original TV series. If it had been, I would not have been inclined to watch further. However, over the next four decades, they improved every dimension–plot, acting, and special effects.

If A Thing Is Worth Doing…

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badlyIt has been said that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. There is wisdom in this. You should put forth your best effort. But another perspective is just as important.

In, What’s Wrong with the World, G. K. Chesterton said, that “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” That’s right–badly.

You don’t have to be an expert or the best in your field in order attempt to do a thing. In fact, you have to do it badly before you are good enough to do it well (e.g. love letters, parenting, your calling).

MBA CHARLESTON SOUTHERN UNIVERSITYWhen I was in high school, I asked my track coach how to run faster. Coach Soranno looked me in the eye and said, “run faster.” He was right. The more you do it, the more capacity you develop. It is like lifting weights and the same principle operates in other areas of life.

talent is overrated

As the research shows in books like Geoff Colvin’s  Talent is Overrated and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, world-class performers in any field practice more than others. We would like to believe that greatness is due to a particular innate genius, but practice is really the key to success.

What Do You Want To Do?

Do you want to write books? Start blogging. Do you want to teach? How about volunteering to teach a Sunday school class. Want to beat the markets? Practice trading with a free virtual stock fund. Whatever it is, start.

Don’t worry about doing it badly. Over time, you will improve. Remember, it is not where you start, it is where you finish. Take the first step now.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 30, 2012

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Star TrekNote: If you are interested, you can watch the Star Trek pilot on Amazon for $1.99 (Free with a 1 month trial of Amazon Prime) or you can watch it on Netflix (Free month trial).

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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6 Comments

Filed under Books, Effectiveness, Gift Card, Leadership, Motivation, Success

6 responses to “Why Some People Are Almost Always Successful.

  1. Dave Mackinson

    Wow you never told me you Ran Track I was in track too I ran the Mile and a few other things plus some hurtles.

    • daringerdes

      Yep. I was a hurdler too. I ran 110 (55m in winter) and the 400M hurdles. I was admittedly the slow man on the shuttle hurdle relay team, but I went to the East Coast Relays. 🙂

  2. Very true. Ironically, I just watched that same pilot episode last month as well, although I’ve never really watched much Star Trek (though I liked the recent film). I thoroughly enjoyed “Talent is Overrated” and would like to read Gladwell’s work. How do the two compare?

    And anything by Chesterton is worth remembering. 🙂

  3. Thank you for following me on Twitter. I love this post. It is so true. Taking that first step even if we fall and get up we learn from our experience if we move on.

  4. drewtewell

    Your point about it not being about where we start, but where we finish. A great current example of this is Ray Lewis. He has a great story. Thanks for sharing!

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