Attaining Greatness: Deliberate Hard Work or Luck

Categories: Hard WorkLuckOutliers

William Shakespeare, an English poet, believed that “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Most people perceive greatness as achieving a skill with excellence and a level of mastery, as well as being better than most persons also attempting to perfect that same craft. Humans are competitive by nature, and wanting to be the best is a significant desire for most. Striving for greatness is a fundamental human drive. Everyone wants to be the best at something or, maybe even everything.

Some may have innate talent in a special area that may make them achieve greatness a lot easier than most. People have to keep working at perfecting their craft to maintain greatness. It takes a lot of hard work, practice, and consistency to be great, yet some do all of that and still have yet to achieve it. Thus, how does one attain greatness? The other day I interviewed an old friend, Yousef, to get an opinion on the topic.

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Yousef said no matter what it is people want to do in life they can be great at it. if they devote all their energy, time, and feelings towards getting better at that craft there's going to come a day where everything just clicks. All that hard work they did to get to that moment will be worth it and will make sense if they just focus their energy on one thing. People have to want it with all their heart and mind.

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Yousef also mentioned the law of attraction, and that it allows an infinite amount of possibilities.

People need to imagine themselves with getting positive outcomes and no negatives one. Being great at great at your craft is something the universe will help them out in achieving. They have to want it with every fiber of their body and do the work that they need to do to be able to achieve in attaining it one day it's going to click. They will look back at all the hard work they put in and it's all going to be worth it. After interviewing Yousef about how to attain greatness, finding the answer won't be as easy as predicted. Yousef is someone who puts in the work for something and most of the time gets a great successful outcome. Yousef's point of view is about people's work ethic and about the law of attraction. For him it is more spiritual yet for most it is not. Usually people believe greatness comes purely from hard work and dedication. Some people even believe that greatness can come naturally with those who have innate talent. Greatness can be achieved in many ways and can mean different things for people. As for Yousef he looks at greatness as being above average and being better than most and having to work hard for what you want to achieve. Yet some may look at it as just simply being skilled at something, not necessarily above people but just being good at what one does.

Greatness can be looked at in many ways and achieved in different methods. In an article from Psychology Today, psychologist, Dr. Jim Taylor talks about what it takes to be great. Dr. Taylor says that greatness can not just be done by the amount of time you put in. The reality of it is that genes matter, whether it be from inborn intelligence or physical talent. People can't control their genes, so Dr. Taylor says to focus on getting the most on what you do have. He claims people's goals should be to find their personal greatness. They should find out whatever natural talent they were born with. That innate ability may not be enough to be the best of the best, but if you put in the work necessary, you will find a reasonable level of success. Those who find personal greatness can experience the same intrinsic benefits as those who are truly great in their field. That experience is the real reason why people suffer blood, sweat, and tears as they pursue something as elusive and unlikely as greatness.

After reading Dr. Jim Taylor's article, I've realized that I have a similar view on the topic. I agree that people who are born with talent have an advantage over those who are not. Those that don't have innate abilities are going to have to work much harder. Talent is the only starting point to greatness, so it puts those people ahead to be excellent. Nevertheless, people with inborn talent still have to work hard to achieve the greatness they desire. However, I do not agree that people without natural abilities should give up on trying to be great and settle for less. As said before, they need to work twice as hard as those who do. But acquiring 'personal greatness' should not be the limit for people. Getting slowly better every day, by being committed, patient, and persistent people will eventually become great at their craft. In chapter 2 of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he talks about something called the 10,000 hour rule. Gladwell provides evidence that claims for an individual to become an expert in any skill, they need to spend about 10,000 hours practicing or working on it. He talks about statistics that show all successful people in their fields had at least 10,000 hours of experience before they made it big. Gladwell says that it usually takes about a decade to get in 10,000 hours of practice and people need a lot of luck and extraordinary circumstances.

He talks about a couple of successful people like Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles and how they all had special opportunities to be able to reach 10,000 hours. Bill joy found a way to log in hours in a lab for free, Bill Gates went through a series of lucky events, and the Beatles played seven days a week for 8 hours or more a day. It was through experience that they gained from the hours they put in that made them so great and successful at what they do. Gladwell states that most people do not have fortunate circumstances that allow them to pursue their passion in dedicated time blocks. successful people share a similar story because of the luck they've had, they were able to spend about 10,000 hours on their craft. Although I do believe that the 10,000 hour rule holds true, I do not think that it’s the only thing necessary to be great and successfulI. people need to focus more on the quality of the practice and not the amount of time spent practicing.

Being great at something requires deliberate practice not just practice. It requires people to be motivated and performing tasks that stress the areas in which they need improvement on and not just mindless repetition. Most people also do not have the time to accomplish the full 10,000 hours, so I understand when Gladwell says it requires a lot of luck and for some, sacrifice. Nonetheless, someone that has logged in less than 10,000 hours can still become great at what they do. People who are athletes don't only rely on the amount of time they have put in the sport but they also rely on their genetics. For example, someone who is 7 feet tall and has practiced way less than 10,000 hours in total will still most likely be drafted into the NBA based solely on his height. So even though deliberate practice is necessary, it is not the only key ingredient to greatness.

Works cited

  1. Shakespeare, W. (1602). Twelfth Night.
  2. Taylor, J. (2011). What does it take to be great?. Psychology Today.
  3. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company.
  4. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row.
  5. Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books.
  6. Duckworth, A. L. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Scribner.
  7. Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books.
  8. Colvin, G. (2008). Talent is overrated: What really separates world-class performers from everybody else. Penguin.
  9. Kaufman, S. B. (2018). Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization. Penguin.
  10. Sylwester, R. (2006). The Adolescent Brain: Reaching for Autonomy. Corwin Press.
Updated: Feb 18, 2024
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Attaining Greatness: Deliberate Hard Work or Luck. (2024, Feb 18). Retrieved from

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