It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.” The professional hockey player starts out a little bit better than his peers. And that little difference leads to an opportunity that makes that difference a bit bigger, and that edge in turn leads to another opportunity, which makes the initially small difference bigger still—and on and on until the hockey player is a genuine outlier. But he didn’t start out an outlier. He started out just a little bit better.Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
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Author Malcolm Gladwell sits down with Alex Hutchison, author of the new book [easyazon_link identifier=”0062499866″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance[/easyazon_link] to discuss how great athletes come to enjoy suffering pain.
Says Hutchison, “Great athletes don’t necessarily feel pain differently. They reframe pain differently.” Hutchison calls the suffering a type of benign masochism.
[clickToTweet tweet=”“Some day we’ll be able to identify that some people are wired to enjoy pain.”” quote=”“Some day we’ll be able to identify that some people are wired to enjoy pain.””]
Being uncomfortable is a ‘psychological coping mechanism’
The best performers also suffer more in training, says Hutchison. This reminded me of Michael Jordan who once said that he practiced so hard that the games were often easier. As the Marines like to say: ‘pain is weakness leaving the body.’
How much are you willing to suffer to be the greatest?
If you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.Malcolm Gladwell
In his interview with Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell talks about his admiration for Brian Eno’s music and then reminds people about the power of music with this adage:
For me, that music came from Mos Def and Talib Kweli. The Blackstar album had everything: the beats, the lyrical poetry, and descriptions of otherness – on “Thieves in the Night” in particular – which resonated perfectly with my feelings about high school.
Gladwell also discusses the importance of playing the long game in the podcast. As a writer and runner, he finds that what you’re looking for often doesn’t come until later, until page 1,000 in a long novel or the 6th mile of a marathon.
You’ll find your stride if you can delay gratification.