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Eudaimonia is not a 1-dimensional spectrum
October 22, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

How does a generally unintelligent, unmotivated and jaded person transform into one of the "competent elite"?

Most of us have at some point in our lives met people who seem to exude a rare kind of verve (for lack of a better term). These people tend to be both incredibly intelligent and captivatingly charismatic, as the ones who are lack either quality fall into the archetypes of the socially inept nerd and the meathead jock respectively. However, intelligence and charisma don't suffice in adequately identifying this breed. The "competent elite" also tend to be maniacally (albeit not single-mindedly) driven and seem to have retained a childlike curiosity for everything. This is a more detailed description of the type of person I'm trying to describe.

How would a person for whom curiosity and motivation appear in infrequent, fleeting moments become one of the aforementioned people? I'm not asking for an algorithm here. What environments, activities, texts and people are most conducive to effecting this kind of transformation?
posted by identitymap to Human Relations (25 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am side-stepping some of the flaws of logic in your question and will, for example, assume that you're actually talking about someone who is intelligent, but has somehow not yet found her/his spot, because to her/him "curiosity and motivation appear in infrequent, fleeting moments."

Curiosity and motivation is topic-sensitive. An intelligent person who only has infrequent access to the two probably just hasn't found out what interests her/him most. That is what's worth looking for, long and hard. Trying to strive for becoming part of the competent elite, on the other hand, won't teach that person how to find more interesting topics. It's the wrong type of goal.

The only environment that I've found helpful is that of other smart and pleasant persons having their own smart pursuits, mingling on a largely same-status-no-competition basis. You can find that, for example, in some university departments, but a university setting is not at all a guarantee that you find it.

The requested attitude is playful and alert (as an alternative to "maniacally driven" and "childlike curious.")
posted by Namlit at 2:04 PM on October 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Being a VC is a pretty sweet job, you are paid a lot of money to be up on all the latest ideas. Does such a thing excite you? Go to a top business school and you can hang out with people like that. But in general, there is no single path -- if you want to exhibit more childlike excitement, you have to do what you love!
posted by blargerz at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2011


Well, I don't think anyone exudes rare verve on all topics. I think these people have their key topics that they spend a LOT of time thinking/reading/talking about and working with. So you don't have to be curious about everything, just about those topics that actually interest you. If you spend enough time thinking about something, it's easier to come off as brilliant when you make off-the-cuff remarks about it, because it will appear that you just thought up something really smart right hten and there, but actually, it's something that occurs to you all the time.
posted by cairdeas at 2:07 PM on October 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a well-worn path to being one of these people: Grad school!
1. Go to the best school you can get into.
2. Get straight A's. Also do your (paid, ideally career-related) job excellently. Also, do 1 other activity that requires a lot of social interaction with competent people (volunteer tutor, EMT, etc.). This will require diligence.
3. After doing (2.) for ~2 years, transfer to a better school.
4. Repeat (3.) until you have mastered your field (4-10 years, able to teach all the ideas in all the important textbooks).
5. Start a technology company designed to grow rapidly with 1-2 of your hardest-working friends from the best school you attended.

I read the link, and I agree with Yudkowsky's point that there are people who are actually that much more capable, happier, and smarter than me. What he implied but didn't say was that the work you do changes you. Intelligence can be learned, to a large extent.

From your writing, I'm worried that you (and Yudkowsky) care too much about seeming smart. Arrogance and ego-protection is deadly. Don't use uncommon words just to signal intelligence. Seeming smart won't make you live forever. If you agree with Yudkowsky's philosophy, you'll be just as alive as smarter people if you just sign up for cryonic freezing.

As far as motivation-- If I knew, I wouldn't be here. Lack of motivation could be due to not having a believable plan. It's how the brain protects you from wasting time on things that will fail. For your goal (learning enough to be one of the "power elite"), I'd recommend choosing any subgoal that's in the right direction (ideally completing the next level of school, but possibly doing a challenging and fun personal project) and going after that goal.
posted by sninctown at 3:18 PM on October 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


it's largely the company you keep. Try to hang out with people you admire.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:38 PM on October 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I also think that this question has some logical flaws, here's a response:

Aggressively pursue your interests, and don't be a jerk about it. It helps if you have ego-based or professional incentives for doing this. If you perceive that friends and colleagues are keeping track of your intellectual accomplishments and how well you articulate your interests, then generally you're more motivated to do these things well. I think that it comes down to your environment--the more demanding a place you put yourself, the more likely you are to have the chance to rise to the occasion.

'Nerdishness' and 'jockery' are also the result of environment, in a way. They aren't archetypes, they're a way for people to meet the expectations of their friends or copy people who they admire. I think people exaggerate certain traits and hide other aspects of their personality in order to please others. It isn't always a bad thing.
posted by _cave at 3:53 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there are a hundred people with insights of similar worth and knowledge of similar depth, the one who writes the best will be thought the smartest. Learn to write.
posted by escabeche at 4:10 PM on October 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


First I suggest finding some richer archetypes to draw from. Using high-school cliches makes you sound like you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder and doesn't exactly reflect the kind of excellence and intellectual nimbleness you seem to be striving for.


Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers
addresses some of this very well.

Excellence is a confluence. It is where raw talent and intelligence meets up with contexts that nurture and focus the cultivation of that talent. This context can be accidental or intentional - or a bit of both. Hard work and practice stitch all this together.

Said differently: accurately identify the nature of your talent, curiosity and motivation. Put yourself in contexts and circumstances where that talent and curiosity is most likely to find expression, focus and development. This will sustain you through normal ebbs and flows of motivation and drive. Work your ass off to become a master at what you have chosen. Surround yourself with people who are better at it than you and who will encourage you to be better. Have a sturdy enough ego to take direction and failure gracefully. Don't rely on raw materials alone to keep you going and don't expect brilliance to simply fall in your lap - doing so is a pretty good recipe for atrophy and stagnation.

There is, in my opinion, a direct relationship between mastery and confidence. They are each self-reinforcing and perpetuating.

The kind of range you are talking about when you say The "competent elite" also tend to be maniacally (albeit not single-mindedly) driven and seem to have retained a childlike curiosity for everything also, in my opinion, comes with having enough second-nature fluency and confidence in one's primary role/craft to have plenty of psychic reserves left for feeding it with other curiosities.
posted by space_cookie at 4:23 PM on October 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


What many extraordinary people have in common is a tremendous dissatisfaction with what ordinary people regard as more than good enough. Billionaires working 70 hour weeks are no less likely to prefer leisure and family time than anyone else, but they won't let themselves indulge even though they can.

Also, real charisma is rare in this set. The truly charasmatic default to paths like politics or sales where being lovable gives you anything unusual talent can, but easier, and when they advance too leadership because they surround themselves with talented people around you for the heavy lifting.

Basket-case geeks are rare, yes, but very common are nerds who've mastered a limited social skill tool-kit. Plenty of jerks and plenty of regular nice guys.
posted by MattD at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there are a hundred people with insights of similar worth and knowledge of similar depth, the one who writes the best will be thought the smartest.

That's not what I'm after. It doesn't even have to result from an internal improvement of my character. I want to be truly quick-witted, truly driven to discover and invent. I certainly wouldn't be able to maintain a mere facade of it for long. I've met only a handful of the "competent elite" in my life, but I realized very quickly into my interactions with them that there was a significant difference in our levels of mental performance.

I'm striving to emulate their characteristics not because I seek external validation, but because I can't come to terms with my mediocrity. It may or may not be more prudent to focus on this insecurity - that's another question in itself.
posted by identitymap at 4:33 PM on October 22, 2011


I think there is a difference and a distinction to be made between A) successful people whose success was derived from a genuine childlike curiosity about all things and B) successful people who attain that status because certain emotional needs cause them to be pathologically driven.

I don't think you can learn to be the first type. You either are, or you aren't naturally curious about all things and such a person wouldn't even ask this question - which is really a question about how you can learn to like and accept yourself...lest your own 'mediocrity' get in the way.

I think you can learn to be the second type if your need to not be mediocre drives you to pursue a business education to eventually become one of these 'competent elite' in hopes that this will unlock the happiness and potential that you imagine it will. Or if you genuinely are interested in business, entrepreneurship and deal-making - although it sounds like you are more interested in the trappings of this lifestyle (or the perceived trappings) rather than the content of the discipline itself.

Your question echos the common yearning for a "magic fix" that will suddenly unlock hidden potential and unleash success that sells so many self-help books and programs every year. The crux is that the more you want to be a 'competent elite' because you 'can't come to terms with your own mediocrity' - the further, I think, you are from having the stuff that makes a 'competent elite.'

Otherwise...pursue an MBA and you will mix with these types of people and either become one or find what you really want to do.
posted by jnnla at 5:10 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people I know who are interested in everything know a lot about everything. It seems kind of circular, but the more you know about a subject, the more interesting it becomes to you, because you have some sort of mental structure on which to hang the new information.

Like, before I bought a house, I had absolutely no interest in interior design, DIY, gardening, etc. Because I had to learn about some of those thing when I moved in here, I suddenly found that conversations about it, websites about it, etc all made much more sense, and triggered some mental reaction. ("X plant does well in drought conditions" would have previously been just a piece of information that had no relevance to my life, and that I didn't recall five seconds after I heard it, but now I'd file it away because X plant might be handy in that little corner of the yard, and then I'd start wondering about other drought-hardy plants, and other techniques for increasing plant survival, etc.)

In more academic realms, my husband has way more interest in chemistry and biology than I do, and will spend hours chatting to people who work in those fields about their work, and it's because he's just read enough of the basics that actual questions arise in his mind relating to anything they say. For me, on the other hand, they say something, and I just kind of shrug it off because I have no mental framework for it.

Until I learned to do some simple computer programming, I would have politely excused myself from conversations where everyone was geeking out about computers, but now I find it fascinating, because every couple of minutes someone says something that is of practical relevance to something I've done or am doing myself.

The people I know who are curious about everything probably always had some degree of curiosity - enough to make them read the elementary info about all these different topics - but I bet you could deliberately cultivate the same thing by making yourself learn a little bit about everything, and then putting yourself in situations where more information comes your way (talking to people, going to public lectures, reading books, watching documentaries, etc). Even if the curiosity is forced initially, I bet it will become real.
posted by lollusc at 5:10 PM on October 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


How would a person for whom curiosity and motivation appear in infrequent, fleeting moments become one of the aforementioned people?

This struck me the most, from your question.

I don't believe curiosity can be easily cultivated in oneself. Some people come out of childhood with a continual need to know more, and some people are content to accept the information that is presented to them in whatever limited context it might exist. To me it seems that curiosity is an emotion, one that some people simply possess in higher doses than others—much like empathy, anger, lust, regret, joy and a dozen others.

It seems as though one could easily train oneself into curiosity habits and actions—asking questions, seeking answers. But I worry that it would be merely the "facade" you mentioned. I don't know if one can effect a permanent change in the brain as you are seeking.

To be "truly driven to discover and invent," one must have inherent curiosity... and I also believe, an inherent need (not desire, but true need) for self-actualization. I think that what you are sensing in the "competent elites" you have been around and are hoping to emulate is that drive, inquisitive nature, wit, creativity. Yet, those qualities are so often a product of an permanent, lifelong, ingrained need to be constantly learning and growing. Those people don't perceive learning as work, as a means toward the end of some socially-determined level of "success".

I've heard many people say that true writers write because they have no other choice. I think it's the same here. People who constantly aim for higher levels of personal and professional development have no choice; it's what they wake up every single day and want to do.

On preview: totally concur with jnnla.
posted by pineapple at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ten years ago, I was in a rut and wishing I could be more of a competent elite person. Now I'm very happy with my "competent eliteness" level, and I'm where I wanted to be 10 years ago.

The issue is that when there's such a big gap between reality and your dream goal, the first steps will be really painful and seem inadequate. An analogy is being 30 pounds overweight, and looking at a marathon runner thinking, "I wish I could do that." Then you manage to go to the gym once, and you feel like an impostor the whole time. That gym outing makes zero perceptible difference to your body, and you feel like giving up.

Similarly, when you make your first steps, such as signing up for a more challenging work assignment without any immediate pay raise, or auditing a class at night, or reading research papers on the weekend, the first 20 times will feel terrible. You won't see any instant benefit, and you'll feel insecure as you're doing it.

You have to force yourself through it. It doesn't become fun until much later on. If you wait for it to get fun first, you'll never start, just like the couch potato who's waiting to get hit by a love of jogging before starting their exercise regime.

I told myself, "I'm going to do this for six months. I don't care how bad I feel during it, or how pointless it seems, or what anyone else says. At the end of the six months, I'll re-evaluate." Then I forced myself to do challenging work and personal intellectual projects.

It's interesting to reminisce about it, because now it's totally ingrained in me. It feels fun and natural.

I also recommend these books:

The Talent Code:
http://www.amazon.com/Talent-Code-Greatness-Born-Grown/dp/055380684X

How to be a Star at Work:
http://www.amazon.com/How-Star-Work-Breakthrough-Strategies/dp/0812926765

Adversity Advantage:
http://www.amazon.com/Adversity-Advantage-Everyday-Struggles-Greatness/dp/1439199493
posted by cheesecake at 5:36 PM on October 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm going to quote from a novel I just finished, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It just happens to be relevant, near at hand, and on my mind:

"If people could climb higher in the social hierarchy in proportion to their incompetence, I guarantee the world would not go round the way it does...But many intelligent people have a sort of bug: they think intelligence is an end in itself. They have one idea in mind: to be intelligent, which is really stupid. And when intelligence takes itself for its own goal, it operates very strangely: the proof that it exists is not to be found in the ingenuity or simplicity of what it produces, but in how obscurely it is expressed.”

Doing and becoming is much more important than being. Essentially your question might as well be, "What is the meaning of life? What is central, what is most important?" The answer is not "being intelligent" or "being charming" or "being elite" or being anything.

So begin your quest to elitehood by thinking outside that particular box, for starters.

I would focus on doing something you feel is important, and forgetting about yourself. But, to answer the question more practically, here's some of the type of advice you may be looking for:

-Find a mentor and become a protege of someone already elite.
-Publish something online in a blog that gets noticed, enough to net you an interview with someone.
-Make friends with people you admire. Start with someone you already know and attempt to widen the circle through the six degress of separation, getting closer as you go.
-Just do more, period. Travel more, interact with more people, stay busier, try more foods, try more activities. When you don't know where to begin, literally begin anywhere.
-Cultivate open-mindedness religiously.
-Accept being corrected. Seek it out, in fact.
-Focus on making your lows less low, rather than making your highs higher.
posted by Nixy at 5:42 PM on October 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


The blogger in the link does sound smart, but he also sounds like he's making an enthusiastic but not at all scientific observation. Meeting a group of type A folks at a conference where they are all 'on' and probably showing off does not define a segment of a super-race of VC hedge fund managers.

But to your question, be smart, do smart stuff (puzzles, hard real math) and do "show off". By show off, I mean, practice, do talks, study the clever trick that's used in the Ted talks and use that. Study hard, work hard, play hard, but become a bit of an extrovert.
posted by sammyo at 8:08 PM on October 22, 2011


First of all, there is no "competent elite". Being witty, while it's pretty popular among socialites, is a scourge and generally awful. Even really good witticisms are often conversation enders. Think "know-it-alls".

There are two bit of advice that I've followed over the years.

One; know yourself and plan accordingly. Who are you? What do you love and what can you do for it? It's YOUR reality, so don't buy into any bullshit or follow anyone else. (This applies to your perception of the "competent elite".) Make your own rules and standards. Make life work for you.

Two; If at all possible, always be a student of someone up the ladder from you and always be a teacher for someone just below you. It's not always easy to do that, but in my experience, the results are very profound.

My personal challenge is to make every day better than the day before. As humans we're learning machines and I believe that my life would be wasted if I was not continually improving.
posted by snsranch at 9:16 PM on October 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


From your question and the response you wrote, you already have the mental materials you need. Unfortunately, if one thing seems certain to me it is that the mind alone will not give you what you want, and attempting to 'take' or 'create' it will not work. Instead of wasting your time trying to make an apple, I suggest you simply pick one. Forget yourself as much as is compatible with proper living, and do something completely different that has been expressed in thousands of ways over thousands of years - the one I like best follows (it is quite long, but may be worth while reading through more than once). The trainings can be done by anyone, it just takes commitment, and should you undertake them, you will most certainly transform yourself in a fashion which will fulfill the desires you express in your posting (though not perhaps in the way you expect).

The Five Mindfulness Trainings
(according to Thich Nath Hanh, www.plumvillage.org)


-First Training-

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.

-Second Training-

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am committed to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

-Third Training-

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

-Fourth Training-

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

-Fifth Training-

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practising a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.
posted by nickji at 1:30 AM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think you can become what you are looking for without truly caring about something. And you can't just will yourself to care.
posted by yarly at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2011


I'm striving to emulate their characteristics not because I seek external validation, but because I can't come to terms with my mediocrity.

No magical threshold will ever appear that'll make you feel like you're enough.

What you have to overcome is a kind of generational indoctrination that led us all to believe that we each had the power to be head and shoulders above the rest of the herd. Well, it turns out that herd is pretty big, and when lots of people stand out, that becomes just another plane of mediocrity -- one which most people can't transcend because of either their own natural limitations, or society's. And that ends up being an intolerable place for many people to occupy, because they didn't expect to have to share their tier with so many other strivers -- it turns out there is nothing special about being special.

In trying to build a career in NYC, I've had to sit down and seriously consider what my motivations are. Admiring others awakens my competitive instincts, which often merely serve as a springboard to self-criticism. But there's no point in it -- in a city like this, there will always be people who are smarter than I, or more beautiful than I, or younger or richer than I, whom were afforded much better educational or career opportunities, etc. etc. I have to remind myself (almost daily) that I'm simply not playing on the same gameboard as any of those people. I have my own particular standards and circumstances, and those are what I have to work with. After months of working on this, it now feels much safer to let myself be inspired by others.

Forget about words like "mediocrity" and just embrace your own story. Your background, your interests, your dreams. You will never be other than what you are. If that isn't enough, then it's your expectations that need to be adjusted, not your "verve."
posted by hermitosis at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


But there's no point in it -- in a city like this, there will always be people who are smarter than I, or more beautiful than I, or younger or richer than I, whom were afforded much better educational or career opportunities, etc. etc. I have to remind myself (almost daily) that I'm simply not playing on the same gameboard as any of those people.

I completely understand. The position from which I started my life and the environment in which I was raised were anything but favourable to economic (even intellectual) mobility. I realize that I most probably would have been much more successful (by my own metric) had Fortune dealt me a better hand at birth. But I'm wary of using my origins as an excuse for stagnating - and I do think I've been stagnant for the past few months. Since I have no way of knowing whether I've hit my biological limits, I'd rather operate under the hypothesis that a refactoring of my psychological codebase will propel me to the next level. Perhaps there are a dozen more levels above the next, with each transition more difficult than the previous, but I'll endeavour nonetheless. If a younger me had dispiritedly thrown his hands up in the air and asked "what's the point?", he would currently be stocking shelves at a local supermarket.

Forget about words like "mediocrity" and just embrace your own story. Your background, your interests, your dreams. You will never be other than what you are.

Again, I wholeheartedly agree. The problem in my case is that my interests and drive are ephemeral. I can be curious about the most mundane things one moment, then be as uninterested as a vegetable the next. Unfortunately the latter state of mind lasts far longer than the former. (My long history of depression is currently the prime suspect.)
posted by identitymap at 2:27 PM on October 23, 2011


A person much like you describe said "Stop trying so hard to be interesting and start trying to be interested."
posted by fuq at 4:43 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


identitymap, i completely get what you're asking. I've seen the "competent elite" and they ARE head and shoulders above the rest. They have drive, they are fast thinkers, they are passionate, articulate, and persuasive, and they live life to the fullest.

The best way to start emulating these people is to find them and hang out with them. Passion and curiosity CAN be developed - these are not things that are indelibly written into your character. The best way to develop them is to be in contact with people whose passion and curiosity are overflowing - whose zest sparks other's interests, as well.

Here's what I would suggest:
1. Get that depression taken care of.
2. Surround yourself with passionate people. Whether or not they fully fit the definition of "competent elite" doesn't really matter - you can have multiple teachers for each aspect of competent eliteness. I've encountered passionate people at universities, but you may find them in the business world or some other sphere.
3. Try to engage these passionate people - talk with them, ask them questions, learn from them. This is easy to do if you're in a grad school setting, as some have suggested above, but it can also be done outside of school.
4. Be prepared. It's a slow process, and sometimes you might think that you haven't progressed at all. You might feel stupid, or you might feel like you're the slowest fish in the pond. Remind yourself that it doesn't matter. You're here to learn, and who can you learn from but the best?

Finally, I would very humbly suggest that if one day, you look around and realize that you're still not one of these competent elites, don't be harsh on yourself. Instead, realize how far you've come, and how much you've learned to enjoy life.
posted by be11e at 7:40 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just want to point out that the so-called "competent elite" got us into the current economic mess we're in, as well as multiple wars, and many other bad things. Eliteness and competentness on their own are value neutral, you know ...
posted by yarly at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The original linked Yudkowsky post is more than a little inane. He seems to mistake the aura given by status and success for being some kind of higher human being. If you had some kind of childish notion that successful people were stupid and had nothing on the ball, then you might be surprised when you met them and they were sharp and energetic. Particularly if you're not advantaged by birth it takes energy and drive and some degree of quickness to get ahead. But don't mistake that for necessarily being better at achieving a good outcome. Sometimes the system is inherently biased against good outcomes, and people who succeed in the system will accept and absorb the flaws in the system.

Also, be aware that success is self-reinforcing -- even if you get ahead by luck, the success itself will tend to expose you to people and circumstances that make you more polished and impressive.

For what it's worth, the single distinguishing factor I have seen in non-legacy successful types is an intense level of energy and ambition. If you are the type who can focus that kind of energy on whatever your area of greatest competence is then you're ahead of the game. On the other hand, America is a tough system to move ahead in today. Advantages and luck help.
posted by zipadee at 4:54 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


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