I Am BlackBrown White I Speak A Different Language But I Must Be Respected Protected Never Rejected I Am God's Child I Am Somebody Jesse Jackson

I'm not saying that everyone that is famous for doing something is purely lucky. S/he probably worked hard. Often s/he is a smart cookie. But as Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, there are loads of smart people who work hard who have ended up obscure, unknown and, quite often, unfortunate. Some of the defining characteristics of the people who have become 'somebodies' in Gladwell's book are:

  • Being born on the right date
  • Being in the right place at the right time (Gates had unique access to computers at a young age)
  • Taking an opportunity that was presented to them (usually a unique opportunity)

Even those who spent 10,000 hours at their craft towards success usually required some unique opportunity presented to them to get there. If Gates had lived somewhere else growing up, missing out on the early access to computer programming experience, he may not have had the idea to start Microsoft. The underlying thread to most of the stories of success that are out there is chance. The actor who was discovered because a talent scout was buying a cup of coffee where they worked. The entrepreneur whose business took a lucky turn when they connected to the right people or someone influential came across their product by chance and told the world about it.

But it isn't ALL chance. You can't just sit back and wait for luck to take it's course. There are ways in which you can open yourself to these awesome opportunities. You can get out into the world more often, meet more people, volunteer, pursue your passion, do nice things for others, open yourself up to new (and sometimes uncomfortable) situations and remain flexible and aware enough to recognize the unique opportunities that present themselves to you. You should also realize that every 'nobody' you meet could become a 'somebody' overnight. So be careful as to who you dismiss.

The cult of the somebody is an interesting phenomenon to me. It's good to celebrate someone's success...absolutely. And great to learn from the success of others is also positive. But to imagine oneself as lesser because of someone else's success is not such a positive outcome. It's more than a little cliché to say "We all put our pants on one leg at a time", but it's true. The only thing separating somebodies and nobodies is that somebodies had an opportunity and seized it with a fantastic outcome. And that opportunity could present itself to you at any time.

So the best thing to do is to ask yourself, "Will I be ready when that opportunity presents itself? Will I recognize it? Will I persevere even if I fall on my face?" and then realize that everybody is a somebody at the end of the day, so the best thing that you can do is to support others with finding their opportunities, too.