You know those people that are exceptionally successful, the ones that make everything look easy, how do they do it? Do they have any natural talents that cannot be coached, were they just lucky enough to have them pre-installed when they started their journey? Research is proving that actually these people were incredibly lucky, not because they were born with anything different to anybody else, but more with regards to the situation they were born into.
The timing of birth, the geographical location, the culture of those around you are all influencing factors that can make someone a success or a failure. Did you know that approximately 70% of all sportsmen and women that get to the elite level in their chosen field were born in the first four months of the academic year, or the first four months of when that sport has its age cut-off for youth teams. This is simply explained by children being proportionately much bigger if they are four or five months older than their peers as they are growing up, and sport’s success often depends on physical prowess. They will all catch up at some point but those that were better in teams when they were younger tend to be pushed on to higher level teams where they receive better coaching, improved confidence, more expectation, all of which drive the eventual probability of success. All of these factors are provided to the children that are born at the beginning of the year, not deliberately but by virtue of being initially more developed. When you then compare like-for-like at the age of twenty, there is no comparison because the one who has received the additional help is leagues ahead. But it could have been different if all factors had remained constant through their development.
The age scenario is perpetuated in other walks of life as well interestingly. Like sports, mental development is also segregated in classrooms into top sets, middle sets and bottom sets. Developing skills, confidence and providing opportunity to only a select few. When you look at Oxford and Cambridge intake 60-70% were born once again in the first third of the year, in the City key positions in the larger firms display the same ratio. It is a phenomenon that is incredible in its coverage. There are obviously exceptions, 30-40%, but the majority have just had a bit more of a leg up.
Where a person is born could also lead to various opportunities that are not available in other places. For example, Bill Gates was born and grew up in California to a rich, successful middle class family near to Silicon Valley. He was born at the right time and in the right place to completely capitalise on the IT revolution that was just about to explode. He had incredible personal talent and motivation, which are also needed to exploit the opportunity, but if he had been born in Malawi then he would not be who he is today.
People are also conditioned by the culture of the society that they grow up in, their parents attitudes to success, the foresight of the school they attended. All of these factors are outside of a persons control when still a child, but the cornerstones for the rest of their life are being laid in those early days. Richard Branson may have the classic self-made, rags to riches story but he didn’t come from a family of miners. His grandfather was a High Court Judge, his father a Barrister and both his mother and father gave him an incredible free rein for his own living. He was lucky in some way, but then the rest of it is down to his own talents and incredible vision for what people want.
So, we can learn something from knowing about these factors that make up a successful person. You must seize the opportunities that you have been born with, and concentrate on your strengths. We are all unique in some small way, and this uniqueness is where our value resides. We have all had different experiences, and influences, that can be utilised. Be true to yourself, and be the best you that you can be.
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