Tuesday, 13 January 2009

FT.com / Columnists / Luke Johnson - Graft, not genes, brings success

Is there a gene for success in business? As those of you who have read below will know I stumbled on Malcolm Gladwell and in fact it was Outliers that I first read about. It suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything, and that it is no surprise that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs et al are of a similar age as they were the right age to spend 10,000 hours playing with computers at the start of the micro revolution. I agree with Luke Johnson that hard work contributes to success, but would add that certain personal qualities also help - which may come from genes. They are perhaps a necessary but not sufficient condition (forgive my lapse into maths speak). Lets just say that even if all successful business people do have characteristics that are genetic not all people with those characteristics are successful business people.

And what does religion have to say into this space? Perhaps the first thing to say is that God values everybody, not just successful business people. So before someone complains that they don't have the genes to be a business success - so what?
Paul talks about the different parts of the body as an analogy for the body of Christ, and just as all types of people are required, so a world made up only of successful business people would not be a great place.

I also question whether it is healthy for anyone to spend 10,000 hours - at least over a short period of time (about 10 years at 3 hours a day) on anything - what kind of person has that dedication? It would of course explain why tennis champions are getting younger - they can clock up their 10,000 hours quicker than used to be the case when they also had a rounded education.

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