Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Body & Mind" -> Success (Part I)

What is success?

Most of us have a desire to be successful.

For instance:

Have you ever watched a good musician and said "wow, I wish I had his talent?"

Have you ever looked at a wealthy person and said, "wow, I wish I had his wealth?"

Have you ever looked at a smart person and said, "wow, I wish I had their brain power?"

Have you looked at Tiger Woods and said, "wow, I wish I had his talent?"

Generally, if you remember the hedonistic treadmill, the framing become the following for success:

"Success is our ability do a skill or attribute which is in the top 10% of the defined population."

This is my own personal definition, but one which I believe is found in reality. The interesting about my definition is the fragment "defined population."

So let's go back to a sport like golf. If you are playing with your buddies at work in a regular group of 10 people, and you are in the top 10%, you would be the top player in your own "defined population." Everybody in your group would say "wow, he has talent."

Place that person into a "defined population" of 100 professional golfers, that person would only be considered "talented" if he could also end up in the top 10 players (or top ten percent).

In most cases, in reality, the "talented" guy from the local pool would be crushed even against the bottom professional golfer. So we have the "local hero" with talent go to "professional with no talent."

To extend this look at professional golfers further, lets look at the defined population of PGA money winners. So now lets up look at the PGA money list.

Today, there are 263 golfers on the money list. If you are at the bottom of the list, you made $6000 this year. You might as well be working for minimum wage. Now, remember that this minimum wage "bottom of the list" golfer, would crush anybody that you or I know in our day to day walk. However, I don't think that you our I would say that he is talented in light of the money list. In some sense, he can't make a living wage, so perhaps professional is too strong of a word.

What could be considered professional? To be a professional golfer requires you to pay most all your own bills, and you probably need to be making around $200,000 to be considered "professional" because you need subtract all of the costs of transportation, paying your own medical expenses, retirement, and other costs.

If you use this as you cut off, then there are really only 200 players in the PGA that are making their living from golfing.

By my definition, if you hung out on the PGA tour, you would expect to find out that out of this "defined population" we would find out that it was the top 20 golfers that their buddies considered as "successful."

Is this what the PGA players actually believe? Well, if you scan the list, you will see that the well known players below 30 on the list are clearly people that the golf commentators describe as either "on the way up," "on the way down," or "have their career on hold."

For example, Tom Lehman who is around 40 on the list, will make about $1.7m this year, but he is described as "past his prime."

Why don't we described him as "wildly successful because he make $1.7M?" His yearly earnings would place him above the 1% percentile for average income. We don't call him wildly successful because we are comparing him to his peers. If, on the other hand, we did compare him against the average salary, everybody would call him wildly successful.

So, if you use my methods, how will you define success?

1. Define the subset by which you want to be measured
2. Work toward getting into the top 10%

For instance, the last census showed the following as average incomes in the USA in 2002: you need to make $114K to be in the top 10%.

If you wanted to be considered "smart" a IQ of 120 would put you into the top 10 percentile.

How about for pull-ups as a 17+ year old boy (Presidential Fitness)

AGE 17+ -> PERCENTILE

100 -> 26
95 -> 17
90 -> 15
85 -> 13
80 -> 12
75 -> 11
70 -> 10
65 -> 10
60 -> 10
55 -> 9
50 -> 8
45 -> 7
40 -> 7
35 -> 6
30 -> 5
25 -> 5
20 -> 4
15 -> 3
10 -> 2
5 -> 1
0 -> 0

15 pulls are required.

Makes sense? Now, your only challenge is to find the percentile charts and how to test.

We'll discuss how much of this is under your control in a future post.

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