I heard a segment on the radio this morning asking for help with a mentoring program for young people about to age out of Foster Care. There was much said about why these people need guidance and what can be done to help. The last part of it I heard was a question: “What one piece of advice would you give a young person to boil down your experience with life” I didn’t hear the answer but thought about it. My advice would be “Be a man (woman)” Unfortunately that sentence is worthless without a lot of background these youth don’t have. So I though about a small expansion. Then I thought some more. My advice boiled down to the four things needed for success: Brains, Beauty, Talent/skill, and Hard work. These things apply to all of us at any stage of life and I’ll give you my thoughts here. Feel free to give me yours. I still need to learn too.
First up, because it really is the determining factor in creating geeks, brains are admired by virtually all of us. Brains, the ability to think and reason positions is a very useful factor in success. Brains alone are not enough of course. I don’t care how smart you are, if you hide in a garret being fed by your family till you die or get committed you are not a success. So something more is needed. What more? Well a little beauty, more specifically charm, helps. Your great thoughts and discoveries are worthless unless you can convey it to others. If you aren’t listened to, or noticed at all, you get bupkis. Skill/talent can help to. Your brilliant idea needs more, the knowledge alone, even with charm does not translate into success unless you can convey it somehow. Mathematics, craftsmanship, design, something to show others what you have conceived. Hard work is the capper. Hard work will turn your thoughts into results, otherwise you are just sitting there mentally masturbating. It does not take all four with great brains but, it does require at least some in one or more of the other areas.
I’ll tackle beauty next, all of us appreciate beauty. Note, beauty is not all about face or form. We all know at least one person who is physically less than truly appealing but who by sheer dint of personality makes themselves extremely attractive. We also know one with flawless skin and face who is so nasty a human being that we can’t stand them. This means that charisma is an important element of beauty. Beauty is in many ways both the most powerful and weakest of the factors in success. Enough beauty and you can be elected president in the 21st century without any of the other factors applying. While this does allow one to succeed while working on one’s golf game it also means someone else is supplying the brains and hard work. admittedly that is an extreme example of beauty making it on its own. Beauty also is the weakest factor because it fades. sometimes catastrophically. See the prior reference of success through beauty. Also beauty is the only one that depends entirely on society for its abilities. The most beautiful and charismatic person in a cabin 100 miles from the nearest sign of humanity is wasted with beauty alone. Beauty is assisted by the other three factors just as much as brains are. A beautiful person with a good mind, or a marketable talent, and a will to work can reach a position in life where success long outlasts beauty.
Skill/Talent, wonderful thing to have. If your talent is great enough people will come looking to find you. Maybe. Simply put, while wonderful it isn’t enough on its own. Brains can direct your talent into useful channels. Beauty can market your talent. Hard work makes your talent truly useful. Let’s take the case of a man I know. Very skillful as a designer of electronic hardware. He can work with anything from Franklin’s kite to bleeding edge software. He is also virtually unemployable. Needless to say he has brains and skill. However he has all the charm of a hydrophobic skunk. Added to that the fact that he will contract to do a project and then default through laziness. Assuming 3 days of hard work to finish the design, he will give a timeline of three weeks, and then miss the deadline he set himself. Not because he had problems but because he was too lazy to actually do the work until the contractors screaming becomes more annoying than working. I know several men less talented in the same field that are quite successful because they are nice to clients and do the work on time and right. Most unsuccessful people with strong talents fail because either work ethics or charisma are lacking so they end up in dead ends somewhere that takes advantage of their talents without recompensing them properly. The same things apply to those whose talents are artistic unless they are lucky.
Hard work is the last of the factors I am counting, last, but not least. Hard work will not completely overcome the lack of any of the other three but it will go a long way towards doing so. The hard worker gets noticed. Promotions often come to hard workers who have lacks in the other areas because they are reliable and can be trusted. With a modicum of the other three hard workers will normally surpass those with strength in any of them Hard work can impress people enough to count as charisma. Hard work and thought will produce more than thought alone. Add a little skill and the hard worker becomes CEO while the rest are still running around in circles.
What of those who have none of these things? Well traditionally they became serfs, drudges, or cheap prostitutes. These days? They become SJWs.