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想致富?不能复制比尔·盖茨模式

更新时间:2017-10-16 19:13:53 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why you shouldn't imitate Bill Gates if you want to be rich
想致富?不能复制比尔·盖茨模式

Bill Gates is a lot luckier than you might realise. He may be a very talented man who worked his way up from college dropout to the top spot on the list of the world’s richest people. But his extreme success perhaps tells us more about the importance of circumstances beyond his control than it does about how skill and perseverance are rewarded.

比尔·盖茨(Bill Gates)比你想象得幸运得多。他或许很有才能,毕竟,他从一个大学辍学生一路坐上了世界首富的宝座。但这种极端案例的主要意义或许在于,它证明了不受盖茨控制的环境所发挥的重要作用,而不是他的能力和毅力如何造就他的成功。

We often fall for the idea that the exceptional performers are the most skilled or talented. But this is flawed. Exceptional performances tend to occur in exceptional circumstances. Top performers are often the luckiest people, who have benefited from being at the right place and right time. They are what we call outliers, whose performances may be examples set apart from the system that everyone else works within.

我们往往认为,实现卓越成就的人拥有最好的能力和才华。但这种看法其实并不完全正确。卓越的成就往往来自卓越的环境。成功人士通常都是最幸运的人,他们得益于在正确的时间出现在正确的地方。他们就是我们所说的"极端个例",他们的成就游离于其他所有人身处的体系之外。

Many treat Gates, and other highly successful people like him, as deserving of huge attention and reward, as people from whom we could learn a lot about how to succeed. But assuming life’s “winners” got there from performance alone is likely to lead to disappointment. Even if you could imitate everything Gates did, you would not be able to replicate his initial good fortune.

很多人认为,盖茨和像他一样取得巨大成功的人都值得关注,因为我们可以从他们身上学到很多成功秘诀。但如果你认为这些人生赢家之所以有如此成就,完全是凭借自身的能力,那可能就会失望而归。即便你能模仿盖茨的一切,也无法复制他当初的好运。

For example, Gates’s upper-class background and private education enabled him to gain extra programming experience when less than 0.01% of his generation then had access to computers. His mother’s social connection with IBM’s chairman enabled him to gain a contract from the then-leading PC company that was crucial for establishing his software empire.

例如,由于盖茨出身上流社会,上过私立学校,因此得以掌握编程技术。要知道,当时只有不到0.01%的人使用过电脑。他的母亲与IBM董事长之间的私交也让他得以从这家当时领先的PC公司那里获得了合同,而这对他后来建立自己的软件帝国至关重要。

This is important because most customers who used IBM computers were forced to learn how to use Microsoft’s software that came along with it. This created an inertia in Microsoft’s favour. The next software these customers chose was more likely to be Microsoft’s, not because their software was necessarily the best, but because most people were too busy to learn how to use anything else.

这件事情之所以重要,是因为多数使用IBM电脑的用户都要被迫学习如何使用配套的微软软件。这就形成了一种对微软有利的惰性。这些用户下一次选择软件时可能还会选微软,未必是因为微软的产品最好,而是因为多数人都很忙,没有时间学习其他软件。

Microsoft’s success and market share may differ from the rest by several orders of magnitude but the difference was really enabled by Gate’s early fortune, reinforced by a strong success-breeds-success dynamic. Of course, Gates’s talent and effort played important roles in the extreme success of Microsoft. But that’s not enough for creating such an outlier. Talent and effort are likely to be less important than circumstances in the sense that he could not have been so successful without the latter.

微软的成功和市场份额或许比其他公司高出好几个数量级,但这种差异最初得益于盖茨早期的运气,后来在强者更强的良性循环下得以加强。当然,盖茨的天赋和努力也在微软的巨大成功中发挥了重要作用。但这还不足以形成这样的极端个例。与环境相比,天赋和努力或许就显得没那么重要了。甚至可以说,如果缺乏有利的环境,他就无法取得这么大的成功。

A magic number?

神奇数字?

One might argue that many exceptional performers still gained their exceptional skill through hard work, exceptional motivation or “grit”, so they do not deserve to receive lower reward and praise. Some have even suggested that there is a magic number for greatness, a ten-year or 10,000-hour rule. Many professionals and experts did acquire their exceptional skill through persistent, deliberate practices. In fact, Gates’ 10,000 hours learning computer programming as a teenager has been highlighted as one of the reasons for his success.

有人或许认为,很多成功人士仍然通过自身的努力和超人的毅力掌握了卓越的技能,所以不应该因此降低对他们的赞扬。有人甚至认为存在一个实现卓越的神奇数字,例如10年或10,000小时定律。很多专业人士和专家都是通过坚持不懈的反复练习才掌握了卓越的技能。事实上,很多人都强调,盖茨青少年时期在计算机编程上花费的10,000小时是他取得成功的原因之一。

But detailed analyses of the case studies of experts often suggest that certain situational factors beyond the control of these exceptional performers also play an important role. For example, three national champions in table tennis came from the same street in a small suburb of one town in England.

但针对专家进行的详细案例研究往往表明,某些不受这些成功人士控制的环境因素也发挥了重要作用。例如,有三位全国乒乓球冠军都来自英格兰一座小镇郊外的同一条街道。

This wasn’t a coincidence or because there was nothing else to do but practise ping pong. It turns out that a famous table tennis coach, Peter Charters, happened to retire in this particular suburb. Many kids who lived on the same street as the retired coach were attracted to this sport because of him and three of them, after following the “10,000-hour rule”, performed exceptionally well, including winning the national championship.

这并非巧合,也不是因为他们一心一意地练习乒乓球。真正的原因在于,著名乒乓球教练彼得·查特斯(Peter Charters)退休后恰好住在那里。与这位退休教练住在同一条街上的很多孩子都因为他而喜欢上这项运动。而其中三个孩子在遵循了"10,000小时定律"后,实现了卓越的成就,获得了全国冠军。

Their talent and efforts were, of course, essential for realising their exceptional performances. But without their early luck (having a reliable, high-quality coach and supportive families), simply practicing 10,000 hours without adequate feedback wouldn’t likely lead a randomly picked child to become a national champion.

当然,个人的才华和努力对实现卓越成就至关重要。但如果没有早期的幸运(一流而可靠的教练和支持自己的家人),单纯在没有适当指导的情况下练习10,000小时,不太可能让一个随便找来的孩子成为全国冠军。

We could also imagine a child with superior talent in table tennis suffering from early bad luck, such as not having a capable coach or being in a country where being an athlete was not considered to be a promising career. Then they might never have a chance to realise their potential. The implication is that the more exceptional a performance is, the fewer meaningful, applicable lessons we can actually learn from the “winner”.

试想,如果有一个孩子在乒乓球运动上天赋秉异,但却运气不好,没有碰到有能力的教练,或者在一个不重视体育的国家里生活,他或许就永远没有机会发挥自己的潜力。这表明,某个成功人士的成就越是卓越,我们就越难以从他身上学到重要而实用的经验。

When it comes to moderate performance, it seems much more likely that our intuition about success is correct. Conventional wisdom, such as “the harder I work the luckier I get” or “chance favours the prepared mind”, makes perfect sense when talking about someone moving from poor to good performance. Going from good to great, however, is a different story.

如果是普通成就,我们对成功的直觉反而很有可能是正确的。在从差变好的过程中,"越努力越幸运"或"机会总是留给有准备的人"这些传统智慧都很有意义。但从优秀走向卓越却并非如此。

Being in the right place (succeeding in a context where early outcome has an enduring impact) at the right time (having early luck) can be so important that it overwhelms merits. With this in mind there’s a good case that we shouldn’t just reward or imitate life’s winners and expect to have similar success. But there is a case that the winners should consider imitating the likes of Gates (who became a philanthropist) or Warren Buffett (who argues that richer Americans should pay higher taxes) who have chosen to use their wealth and success to do good things. The winners who appreciate their luck and do not take it all deserve more of our respect.

在正确的时间(早期的运气)处在正确的地点(你成功时所处的背景能让早期的结果产生持续的影响)都是至关重要的因素,甚至会超越你本身的价值。明白了这个道理之后,我们就不应该模仿那些人生赢家,期待着自己也能取得类似的成功。但成功人士的确可以考虑效仿盖茨(他成为了慈善家)或沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)(他认为越是富有的美国人就越应该多缴税)的做法,利用自己的财富和成就做一些有益的事情。如果一个成功人士感激自己的好运,而且没有把这一切都据为己有,那就理应得到我们更多的尊重。

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