Sin City 2014, Las Vegas 2014

Basics, Brilliance and Self-betterment

How many of us would like to know some secrets of self-improvement? How many of us yearn for a secret formula which will enable us to do better in school, at work or in sports? Surely, there must be some shortcuts to success.

Geometry teaches us that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In life, the straight line to success is not a secret path. It may be a path filled with obstacles. It might be a steep path. But it is not a secret path.

So many of us wish we were smarter, more athletic, better looking, etc. We believe that if we had those qualities, life would be so much easier. Yet, the road to success is not paved with bricks of brilliance. Yes, being smart is a good thing. But you do not have to have an Albert Einstein-like IQ to do well in life and make strong contributions to society.

In sports, a person of great speed and strength who is lackadaisical about practicing the basics of their particular athletic endeavor is not going to go very far. Being a naturally fast sprinter does not make someone a good soccer player. Being able to jump high does not, by itself, prepare someone to become a great basketball player.

The secret to success is no secret at all. The shortest distance to success, by and large, is diligent, focused commitment to mastering the basics of the field you are in. Mastery of the basics is going to put us on a solid success trajectory. Becoming a dilettante capable of spouting off about some esoterica does not get the job done.

When it comes to bettering yourself, do not worry if you are not brilliant. Genius absent work is multiplication by zero. The result is nothing. Take the tools you have and focus on becoming a master of the basics in your field. Let time and focus be your friends. Soon, you will look back and marvel at all you have accomplished.

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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