The Unfortunate Genius


Wheel of Fortune

How many geniuses do you know? How many of them are successful?

I am in the midst of reading a book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Outliers”. It tries to reshape our understanding of success and successful people. I am still halfway through the book and I can say Gladwell is enlightening and thought provoking. His inventive theories are logical and delightful.

What do you think Bill Gates and the Beatles have in common?

In a nutshell, the answer is practice. The saying “practice makes perfect” is revised and well defined. In order to be good at anything you have to do it almost 10,000 hours. It is the 10,000 hour rule. Mozart practiced over 10,000 hours before producing his masterwork of a concerto that contains his own original pieces at the age of 21. Before the Beatles hit stardom they were performing at strip-clubs in Germany. They used to perform for 8 consecutive hours, 7 days a week, for a whole year. I am not such a math wiz but looking at the calculations they got to practice 2,950 times in one year. It took them 10 years to be famous. So around 29,500 hours in 10 years. They exceeded the 10,000 hour rule and voila they became famous.

Talent does definitely play a role too in success. I am not going to argue that.

So the formula so far is practice + talent.

The third and last piece of the formula to success is Luck. How lucky are you?

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other successful individuals were lucky as lucky can be. You would think that some invisible force is disregardful to all of us 7 billion people on earth and focusing on gearing these lucky people toward good and better opportunity.

Let us examine this simple anecdote of Bill Gates life. His family was well to do. They enrolled him in a private school. That school club raised money and decided to get the most up to date computer of that time. He got the chance at a very young age to practice programming and work on the computer for hours on end. By the time he was at university he exceeded 10,000 hours of practice. Mind you that was in the 60’s when computers where expensive and not that very available. Thus he had the upper hand and practice. He had talent. And to top it all, he had a series of fortunate events.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the smartest man in the world, Chris Langan. His IQ is the highest recorded. Langan’s IQ is 195 compared to Albert Einsteins IQ of 150 . Yet this poor man is jinxed. He grew up in poverty. His stepfather used to beat him up. When he went to college his mother forgot to fill out the scholarship renewal forms so he was expelled. The universities he went to were disregardful to his genius nature. He dropped out. He lives in Montana and has worked in construction and as a bouncer at clubs throughout his life. This is the smartest person in the world… Now that is food for thought. He taught himself and has come up with a theory on the universe called “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe”. I tired reading through it but to no avail… The sad thing about his theory is that it will never be published or peer reviewed because at the end of the day it is written by someone who does not have credential and a degree.

Finally, to sum things up; the formula to success is practice+ a dash of talent + a tub full of opportunity and luck.

For all the people out there dreaming of success I wish you Good luck.

Rasha Nasser Khalil

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