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The Surprisingly Narrow Path to Success

Losing your way

When you feel you've lost your way:

  1. If you've walked far in the wrong direction, you don't have to continue in it. Ask yourself if you're willing to get back on track.
  2. You may just need a course correction. If you already wrote a book, back up a step, find an agent and write a proposal instead.
  3. Other times it may be better to pick a new destination entirely. Start today.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Surprisingly Narrow Path to Success

The Surprisingly Narrow Path to Success

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/06/15/narrow-success/

scotthyoung.com

6

Key Ideas

Paul Graham

Paul Graham

"One thing I've learned as an adult that I didn't realize as a kid is how precisely you have to aim at a goal to hit it. If you choose to optimize something even slightly off to the side, you'll sometimes achieve almost nothing toward your intended goal."

The narrow path to success

Many of us don't want to face the narrow path to success. Instead, we prefer to hear the stories of rare misfits who managed to beat the odds.

To beat the odds, you have to understand the game you're playing. You have to know why success is so narrow.

Reasons why success is narrow

  • Elite achievement is very hard. To be in the top 1%, you need effort, talent and strategy.
  • Specific results come from specific efforts. The smaller the target, the more carefully you need to aim.
  • Signaling filters create conformity. Knowing the requirements, candidates rush to meet those criteria, which creates even narrower signals.

Learning the path early

To learn the path early, ask people who've walked it before. Notice what matters to people in charge. The way forward is not creative. If you have an idea to pitch, write it into a business plan.

Creative work can rarely be measured by a universal yardstick. Thus gatekeepers rely more on signals. Artists, academics, and authors may find that their paths forward are more constrained.

Losing your way

When you feel you've lost your way:

  1. If you've walked far in the wrong direction, you don't have to continue in it. Ask yourself if you're willing to get back on track.
  2. You may just need a course correction. If you already wrote a book, back up a step, find an agent and write a proposal instead.
  3. Other times it may be better to pick a new destination entirely. Start today.

The possibilities are vast

There are many targets to aim at. You're never starting from scratch. Wherever you are, there are many possibilities within reach. All you require is to recognize the path ahead and stick to it.

Getting a book deal is narrow. But there's self-publishing, blogs, newsletters, and writing for magazines.

The path may be narrow, but there are more destinations than you can imagine.

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People with high hope have a good number of difficult, challenging goals, and a good scorecard of achievement.

They have lower rates of anxiety and depression and greater happiness. They cope well with problems that consume the rest of the world.

Hope = Goals + Agency + Pathways

Instead of wishful thinking, we need to know what we want (specific goals), and have the drive and passion to go towards it (agency) and should be able to generate methods and devices to achieve what we want (pathways).

When we do a sum total of these three, we get hope: Hope= Goals + Agency + Pathways

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Keep track of your performance

In order to reach your goal, learn to rely on performance metrics, in order to understand where exactly you stand in terms of performance. To allow a successful tracking of personal progress:

  • Define a deadline
  • Use a simple system to track your progress
  • Ask for help from a trustworthy person if you cannot do it yourself.*

Think big

After a period of success, you most certainly want to keep doing the things in the same way, as it has allowed you to achieve everything that was on your list, rather than starting all over again.

In order to make sure that it does happen like this, consider making a visual that can enable you to go over your past progress while keep your motivation alive or keeping track of your progress by means of monthly reports.

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Willpower is known to be a limited resource.

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Changing your default thinking

You have conscious control of about 10% of your brain. Most of your judgments, prioritizations, decisions, and actions are happening in your subconscious. Many of these processes are running on default programs to maintain the current position.

One reason change is hard is that you're often working against these defaults. You can change the defaults by giving your brain a concrete goal.

Set your autopilot

A well worked out goal sets the compass in your subconscious. It's not going to change your bad habits instantly but will serve as a guide when you make a choice.

When your brain is set on a course, it helps those default programs work for you instead of against you.

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