Sunday, 30 May 2010

My understanding of the ingredients of Success

Well, here it is. What you need to get on in life.

Number One, Drive. Determination, motivation, energy, WILL, focus, courage. The opposite of idleness, indolence, can't-be-arsed-ism. I suspect that you are born with this are you are not, and that environmental factors merely exacerbate or dull one's native drive. This is, I am sure, rooted in mammalian hierarchies. Who is to become Top Dog must be courageous, self-confident, determined. Will science identify a gene for Will? (If scientists do so, will it be ethical of them to let society know?). Successful motivational speakers, successful leaders, ones who can bring about increases in the drive of their workforce (or nation) are in short supply.

Number Two, Intelligence. Smartness. Wisdom. Awareness. Consciousness. The child that instinctively understands without having to swot too hard to remember - and possesses the drive to acquire more knowledge, determined to make the most of the opportunity while it is there. Intelligence in humans has come to replace the antlers of the stag or the feathers of the peacock.

Number Three, Luck. Being born intelligent and willful. Being born rich in a rich country rather than poor in Somalia or Papua New Guinea or Haiti. Being in the right place in the right time - a Malcolm Gladwell points out in Outliers. Bill Gates, the Beatles, Andrew Carnegie - had they come along just a few years earlier or a few years later, would have not made it so big. But then Luck, as Margaret Thatcher pointed out, is an Opportunity Not Missed.

And so. If you consider yourself - and the impact your life has - as a cake-decorating syringe, the factors that determine how much icing comes out of the nozzle are determined by a) the bore [diameter] of the syringe; b) the stroke [length] of the syringe; the force with which the piston is pushed, and the diameter of the nozzle. You are the syringe that you were born with. The force pushing against the piston may often weaken; "I'll just have a sit down, have a cup of tea"; but then, the days are marching.

(Should you need one of these gadgets, you can find them here.)


Jeannie said...

With drive, I find that as I get older I have more can't-be-arsed syndrome. Entropy, gravity, depletion of hormones--trying to fight a losing battle here.

As for luck--agree 100%. With enough intelligence and drive one can outwit luck, but those are the exceptions.

Intelligence, love the analogy of the peacock feathers. Intelligence does have to do with memory but not entirely. I feel it has more to do with ingenuity. But the basic memory is absolutely necessary in order to pass tests--though the person may be completely stupid in other ways even though s/he can remember the name of a medication or the date of an historical event.

student SGH said...

The order is right and conclusions are spot-on.

Drive - try translating it into Polish - will you find one word to describe? This may speak volumes about Poles - the English have their drive, so don't Poles have a drive, if their language doesn't define it?

And I wonder - is it an economic post? Or should it be rather categorised as social? I'm sick of seeing management gurus, project managers or marketing experts ranked among economists. The time to draw a thick line between economists and graduate of business schools is nigh. And the resumption of blogging too!

Michael Dembinski said...

Drive - I've heard it in Polish as "drajw" (as in "moja córka ma dużo drajwu"). I like the phrase siła przebicia which I think lacks the English equivalent (unless it's 'drive').

Onto economics. Economics is the study of the behaviour of humans in the market place. Attempts at modelling it with high-order maths are doomed to fail. To understand economics, we must understand the genetics of human behaviour. This will be the future trend of scientific enquiry.

student SGH said...

And I've never heard drajw (in this context of course).

Siła przebicia - I'd use 'clout'.

Economics is a social science, with all implications of that fact. But in your short definition you focused on the micro- aspect and seemed to neglect the macro- one.

Economics is more about calculations and rationality than into explaining psychological decisions taken on the spur of the moment.

Modelling - on micro and macro levels it has already failed. Look at the recent crisis. One chinese guy transformed Gauuss copula and he worked out that one bad loan is bad, two bad loans are still bad, one hundred also have high probability of default but millions somehow make up safe securities. Model is always a simplified version of reality. The biggest drawbacks of those simplifications are assumptions, not there are any at all, but that in unrealistic in practice.

In modelling financial markets there's a shift towards psychological approach which is key to understanding the fluctuations and deviations from fundamental values. This will continue but maths will still be harnessed and we'll see some spectacular collapse resulting from applying models. Models don't work in critical situations. Stock market crash in October 1987 according to maths should have occured once in eighteen billion years. It's three billion years longer than the Earth exists. Will it happen again? Probably not, because markets are much regulated and like in the bleak years of PRL there's only one right direction...

PS. 'Drive' = chęć działania (more or less)

Unknown said...

More related to the shoulder sprain above, ...well... we're all of us not getting any younger - George Jaron popped in the other day to do some plumbing for me as I was back in London for a week - he mentioned that Jack Czyzowski had died of Septicaemia; 52 as many of us are or will be this year ... wondered if you had heard,
Best, Stan

Michael Dembinski said...

Stan - Jack died last year - 24th February 2009. He was 51. Jack was only a few weeks older than me; last time I saw him was late January 2008, we went for a lunchtime pint in Holborn. He must have popped out five times for a fag. Version I heard was that he suffered several consecutive heart attacks. All the best, M.