20 February 2011

For young wannabes playing the lottery


As a climbing coach who is always trying to understand and communicate the ingredients of becoming really good at climbing, I spend a fair bit of time observing other disciplines like art and business. An idea I read today looked at the lotteries we play as wannabes in whatever field.
Not the ‘actual’ lottery, but the lottery of getting picked by a talent scout, signed by a big record company or featured in a TV programme. Most people get to show some raw, unrefined talent as youngsters. It’s not really gone anywhere yet. It needs focus and application over years to develop before it has the power to break new ground. If you are gearing everything you do towards winning that lottery, are you accepting that you’re almost certain to be one of the ones who loses? People don’t really keep playing the national lotteries as a way to become millionaires. What keeps them buying the ticket is the buzz of buying the ticket.
A lot of the time, ‘waiting’ to win opportunity lotteries like record deals causes young talents to languish without ever going anywhere. In a flash they are no longer 18 but jaded and tired out from the fruitless wait for something they will never win. I’ve seen a lot of talents in climbing fizzle because they are ‘waiting’ to score a sponsorship deal, strike on a magic training formula, move to a climbing mecca and magically soak up the ability etc.
How would it change your approach if you bet on never winning a lucky break? If you bet on having to get there just on the resources you have right now? That’s when industriousness kicks in and some actual progress happens.

5 comments:

Nick said...

Hey Dave,

Always love your writings on the psychology and sociology surrounding climbing and the intersection with the "outside world". You should check out Malcolm Gladwell's last book, Outliers, on the hidden substance of success (if you havn't already)

Dave MacLeod said...

Yes that is a good book that everyone should probably read. I think about the 10,000 hour idea a lot as well as the general effect of culture on tendency for success.

Tim said...

I like this idea a lot Dave. I'm into expeditions/adventure rather than climbing specifically but it applies just as well: easy to spend months and years chasing sponsors and documentary makers instead of getting out and doing something off your own back.

Mark said...

Good point well made Dave. It reminds me of a Barry Sheene quote aimed at young bike racers: "Don't wait for your boat to come in, swim out and meet the bloody thing".

Mark.

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