273. Patterns

“One person is an enigma. A group of people is a statistic.”

I read that before in a book, I think it was from the Elementary Statistics textbook. But when I tried to look for it on Google, Google insisted that it did not exist.

(that said, I didn’t bother to check the second page of results…)

The more people you meet, the more you’ll grow to realize that there are certain “types” of people. There’s the incessant joker, the tech geek, the shopaholic, the know-it-all, the cook, the comforter, the leader, the dreamer… When you gather people in a group – be it in a casual circle of friendship or a predetermined project team – you’ll observe that people begin to fall into predetermined roles. In a group, people act differently than they do when they are alone.

Every man’s a mystery. Every group’s a statistic. There are infinite layers of depth to each individual, yet when you group these impossibly complex individuals together, you begin to see a pattern forming.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. But when something is a hundred men’s meat but only one man’s poison, I think it’s safe enough to bet that it’s meat. This is why people should be encouraged not to have a singular hero or role model, but to have them in the plural. When we zoom out and observe the group, we begin to see the patterns. We are able to note the indicators of success and the warning signs. We can use this to our own advantage, to carve out our own success from the successes of the past.

That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Getting success. Not just for the sake of it, but so that through attaining it, we can be happy.

Forget the billionaire dropouts: they have succeeded despite their academic failures, not because of it. Forget the accidental, or overnight, successes: to try and replicate their methods is to fall error to the survivorship bias. Everyone has to find their way in life, and as a general rule, what works for the everyman has a good chance of working out for you.

The tenets of success, I think (and I stress I THINK, because I’m far from it), are these:

Be hardworking. The idea is to produce more than what you’re being paid for. That way, you will always be undervalued. That way, you will always deserve to be paid more. That way, people will start paying you more. And even when – especially when – people have started paying you, continue to be hardworking.

Be patient. Success is built, like houses, brick by brick and block by block. You don’t want your contractor to build your house in haste – neither should you be impatient in building your success. It will come. Keep working. Keep building.

Be respectful. In essence, don’t be a prick. You know what I mean. Success is bestowed upon you by people, and nothing makes people feel quite as good as when they’re respected.

Be fresh. More than producing fresh ideas and concepts, bring fresh enthusiasm and spirit to your work. There are days when, like your car keys or your phone, you won’t be able to find your passion – make sure you find it and bring it with you before you head out, or be prepared for a very inconvenient day ahead.

Be clever. This sometimes gets in the way of being patient and being respectful, but that’s arrogance. Be intelligent about your work, and know your way around people and events.

You’ll be fine.


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