A B-minus is good enough

First, consider this idea from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia:

“I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession and degree of specialization that doesn’t appeal to me. Once I reach that 80 percent level I like to go off and do something totally different; that probably explains the diversity of the Patagonia product line–and why our versatile, multifaceted clothes are the most successful.” (p. 42)

Next, consider this idea from Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert”:

“When I speak to young people on the topic of success, as I often do, I tell them there’s a formula for it. You can manipulate your odds of success by how you choose to fill out the variables in the formula. The formula, roughly speaking, is that every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.

Notice I didn’t say anything about the level of proficiency you need to achieve for each skill. I didn’t mention anything about excellence or being world-class. The idea is that you can raise your market value by being merely good–not extraordinary–at more than one skill.

In California, for example, having one common occupational skill plus fluency in Spanish puts you at the head of the line for many types of jobs. If you’re also a skilled public speaker (good but not great) and you know your way around a PowerPoint presentation, you have a good chance of running your organization. To put the success formula into its simplest form:

Good + Good > Excellent” (p. 96).

It’s fine if you enjoy your A’s, but, with a few exceptions, they’re probably not much help.

[PS — If you read this and thought, “Oh, good, I can relax and go play Fortnite,” you missed the point.]

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