On the Shoulders of Giants

by Brian SperonelloIcon

Perseverance & Preparation

The following section of a blog post by Bob Lefsetz, titled "Muse At Staples," caught my attention a while ago, and I realized it was because one of the themes in the article came up in a few other things I'd read around the same time.

We all get caught up in our day-to-day life sometimes, and we lose sight of the long-term reasons for what we're doing. Unfortunately for some, this becomes a permanent state. Ask them "What are you working towards?" and they will respond with a blank stare. The point to take away from the Lefsetz article and the two related book quotes is this: Whatever your specific goals are, your purpose now should be to prepare yourself for when you get a rare opportunity to excel. That way you are in a position to capitalize on it when it happens.

Bob says [bolding is mine]:

"You might be rolling your eyes now, saying it’s all about placement, that’s how you break, but Muse had been working for years before Ms. Meyer discovered them, "Twilight" was a lucky break. The key is to be in the game long enough to experience your lucky break. Most people give up too soon. Or expect it to come too early. Success comes to those who wait. And want it."
This idea of perseverance and preparation came up in two books as well. In The Little BIG Things, Tom Peters cites Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan and the idea of the "Unpredictable Extreme Event" (U.E.E.) [bolding is mine]:
"Well, if we can’t plan for it because of its, by definition, “difference-ness,” and we can’t let it distract us 24 hours a day every day, what can we do? There are no surefire remedies, but there is a line of thought ⎯ and a single word ⎯ that may be of practical use. The word is…resilience.

To deal with the absurdly unlikely, we can consciously think about and hire people and promote those with demonstrated evidence of resilience and, hence, perhapse travel at least some distance toward shaping our organization to be more or less able to respond to a Black Swan." – p.45
And Malcolm Gladwell's thesis statement in Outliers [bolding is mine]:
"These are stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Their success was not just of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up." - p. 67
The most difficult part about preparing for a distant unknown is the uncertainty that creeps in. You start questioning if it's worth it, whether you will ever get there, and whether or not you're making the right choice. The more you can think long-term, the better off you will be at achieving some level of perseverance.

This post stands on the shoulders of:

Bob Lefsetz: "Muse At Staples,"

Nassim Nicholas Taleb via Tom Peters: The Unpredictable Extreme Event (U.E.E.)

Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers


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