Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Different Side of the Success Stories of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

What makes us successful? Is it high IQ? Hard work? Persistence? Good Education? Networking?

You could still have all that and still not be even a little tiny bit of close to what you call being successful. Maybe not even on the tip of the road of success. We are brought up to believe that if we study hard at school, go to college, do our shores, network and what not we will get there.

But then when it comes to work some employers would say would advice even others not to hire rich or high achievers. What happened to do good at school and you will get there? How about being rich? No one chose that and I am sure as hell no one would want to give that up. Justifications would be that rich employees wouldn’t be as keen as others to be best at work. That just means that we work for money not for achievement or any other sort of ‘success’ for that manner. Does that imply that ‘success’ could only be measured in terms of money? And then comes my favorite justification for not hiring high achievers. It’s because they come out of college to only see that ‘life isn’t fair’. This just means that people shouldn’t work hard from the start anyways. I am confused?

With all that in mind, let’s take a glimpse at the success story of two of the huge icons of today’s economy and lifestyle, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. We all know the well known story of them. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to run Microsoft and Steve Jobs was adopted by a poor family and made it all the way to what he is today. These are the stories most of us know except that they are incomplete. Yes, incomplete in ways that if we took them as role models we wouldn’t bother do any work.

From the first glimpse you will think that Bill Gates was a loser at college who didn’t bother study. So, yaaay, if you fail and stuff don’t worry, once you take the decision to drop out of college you would be just like Bill Gates. If you are poor, then hold on right there, you will make it just like Steve Jobs made it. After all, he was poor, adopted and well he is what he is now.

But it’s not about those factors. Those factors weren’t the reasons these icons are changing history right now. These were a bit of obstacles. Risks you might say but reasons? Not at all, they have reached the top despite those circumstances not because of them. So, what are the more complete stories of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

Definitely, they had to be smart, persistent, hard working and all that stuff. Not just them actually but many people are as well. Still, what made them shine?

A theory was put forward by Malcolm Gladwell in his book "The Outliers". It is called the 10,000 hours rule. It’s the rule that you have to minimum do something, anything for that matter for at least 10,000 hours to be exceptional at it. You might have the talent but you would have to at least practice it for 10,000 hours. Here the old saying that says “Practice makes perfect” rings a bell.

So, what is the other side of Bill Gates story?

He was an easily bored student and because his parents were wealthy, they were able to place him in a private school called Lakeside at the seventh grade. Half way through Gate's second year, the school started a computer club and guess who joined? Bill Gates.

In his school, there was a Mother's club that did a rummage sale every year. The year the computer club was created, the money was spent to buy a computer terminal that ever since Bill Gates lived and practiced programming. Why was that so special? This happened in 1968 where most colleges didn't have computer clubs. To put this straight, Bill Gates started programming in his eighth grade while those who were in college didn't even have the chance to practice. You see the edge?

There were definitely other obstacles and opportunities that was faced by Bill Gates, however, the bottom line remains that because Bill Gates was fortunate enough to be placed in a school that happened to have a computer club, he was able to start practicing programming at such a young age way before his fellow colleagues. So, will employers still condemn rich employees as spoiled? Just a thought.

Okay how about Steve Jobs? He was adopted from a poor family who couldn’t afford to send him to a private school. Steve Jobs’ opportunity was a little bit different.

Jobs grew up in Mountain View, California where his neighborhood was full of engineers from Hewlett-Packard. In his childhood, Jobs attended talks by Hewlett-Packard scientists. Jobs managed to get a summer job on an assembly line to build computers at such a young age. Again, you see the edge?

When we try to see these tycoons’ stories from another angle, we would see that not only IQ or hard work make us shine. It could be the opportunities that existed beyond our control. Even more important is to grasp them and that only belong to our vision.

One might think that okay because they have completed the 10,000 hours of practice earlier than their fellow colleagues, they are what they are today. But what if they haven’t had those specific IT related opportunities, would they end up as ‘ordinary’? I, myself, would like to think that no. They would have been tycoons in yet another field because they have something that many people lack. They have ‘vision’.

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