On Success

 

01

Success is often presented as a fixed destination, after which life should coast smoothly along. In reality, 'success' is a mere starting point, a leveling up after which unknown and unknowable challenges await. Many have sought a magic formula for professional success, particularly when it comes to creative or innovative work. 

 

02

In 1990, cognitive biologist John Hayes published a paper that would provide a working blueprint for several generations of creative entrepreneurs. Surveying a group of students at Carnegie Mellon University, he discovered that successful creative work was dependent on four personal characteristics: devotion to the task (the kind of 'devotion' that falls somewhere between a healthy work ethic and what Hayes quotes as 'absorption in work, over long years, and frequently to the exclusion of everything else'); the ability to work independently without falling prey to "fashions" or conventions; the quest for originality; and, perhaps most importantly, flexibility in the face of difficulty or hardship.

 

An excerpt from Kinfolk: Issue 22

 
 

03

In other words, do the work. Put in the time. Master your craft. And don't panic over professional failures - they're a natural part of the work process.

 

 
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