When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.
The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”
There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”
The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”
In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”
In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.
Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.
People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.
Afraid that you’re getting old and haven’t reached the “pinnacle” of your career? Anxious that your lofty goal seems out of reach while your milestone birthdays are being thrown at you? Never fear! Published in Science magazine this month, a study of over 2,800 scientists showed that most wrote their “break through” career paper after 20 years of work.
There is little correlation to age and “success.”
In fact, there are many careers that require a passel of years of experience and learning, such as “law, psychoanalysis, history, or philosophy” and the average age of summit success came at 48.
Einstein once said that if you haven’t made a discovery by the time you’re 30, you never will. But data shows that the age where scientists are making ground breaking work is getting older and older, because there is more for them to learn before they reach the area of discovery. Makes sense!**
The most important factors for success are:
ability to create time to work;
ability to collaborate successfully; and
to make sure your work gets in front of the right people at the right time.