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Talent is Overrated, Hard Work is Not. (Part 1)

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How often have we showered praises, eulogies and even gone to the extent of worshipping successful people in their fields? It could probably go like this: “Bill Gates is absolutely brilliant, he must have DNA programming in his genes,” “Look at Michael Jordan achievements, he is born to do this,” “Michael Phelps must be born a fish; he is just so talented in swimming.”

Have we dug deeper into the lives and upbringing of these successful people before coming to a conclusion that it was real hard work and the environment that moulded their character?

I am going to explore and briefly summarise the life of Bill Gates; to uncover the points that we have missed out. To only look at where he is today without looking at his past, must have been a huge oversight.

Gates’s dad was a well-known lawyer in Seattle while his mother was the daughter of a successful banker. During seventh grade, they sent him to Lakeside, a private school that catered to Seattle’s elite family. On the second year of school, the school purchased a computer terminal worth three thousand dollars. It was in 1968 and most colleges didn’t even have a computer club.

Soon after, a group of programmers at the University of Washington formed a club called ‘Computer Center Corporation’ or ‘C-Cubed’ in short. One of the parents at Lakeside is one of the founders, and he offered the club a job to test out C-Cubed software programs in exchange for their free programming time.

Not long after, another company named ‘Information Science Inc.’ allowed the boys to work on their software, which can be used to automate payroll in exchange for their free computer time.

During the age of fifteen and sixteen, Paul and Gates learned of the availability of free computers at the University of Washington. These computers were connected to the medical centre and Physics department running twenty-four hours a day, but with a slack time between 3am to 6am, where Paul and Gates utilised to practice on what they like.

TRW, a technology company, required programmers who were familiar with a specific kind of software called up Gates for help. Gates managed to convince his teachers to allow him to decamp at Boonerville for such undertaking, under the guise of an independent study project.

Because of Bill Gates’s passion in programming and being born into the right family with the right environment, he was given ample opportunities to grow and hone his skills. Thus, if you read about the 10,000-hour rule, this was where he had accumulated his hours. As such, being an outlier and dropping out of Harvard University during his sophomore year to set up Microsoft was by no means sheer luck. It was his passion and hard work that got him to where he is today.

As Michael Jordon put it, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Jordon further added, “Maybe I led you to believe it was easy, when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner. That my game was built on flash, and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength, that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God-given gift, and not something I worked for, every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game. Or maybe, you’re just making excuses.”

There will be a Part Two of this article, where I will delve deeper into hard work and share a psychologist experiment on it. Stay tuned till my next article, and have a good day every day!