On our most recent show, How Rich People Get Rich: The Secrets Revealed, we discussed the four main paths to wealth. One of those paths, the path least traveled, is becoming a virtuoso. Virtuoso is a funny-sounding word that basically means really, really good at something. Top of the class, best of the best. In the study referenced on our show, only 7% of the wealthy were considered virtuosos. While being among the best of the best isn’t required to become wealthy, everyone should become a virtuoso, or at least strive to.
Virtuosos are everywhere, not just on TV
No matter what you do, you can be a virtuoso. If you’re a financial planner, you can strive to become the best financial planner you can be. Even if you work in retail or fast food, you can still be a virtuoso, best of the best. A Monster.com survey found that the strongest driver of happiness for employees under 35 years old is a sense of accomplishment. Someone who’s a virtuoso and really, really good at what they do will naturally feel a strong sense of accomplishment at work.
Many people feel like their jobs don’t matter or aren’t important, so they don’t see the point in putting in the effort at work, but the cream of the crop will be recognized no matter the industry. Don’t believe me? Thousands of people attend a grocery bagging competition every year, and the winner gets $10,000. Grocery baggers are being replaced across the country with self-checkout kiosks, but the best of the best are still recognized and valued. The lesson here is if you put in the work to become one of the best, you will have success.
What does it take?
What does it take to be one of the best? Surely a lot of hard work, natural talent, and a little luck, but in what proportions? Author Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.” This should be great news for everyone because this means the biggest thing holding you back is putting in the work, not a lack of natural talent or luck, which can’t be changed. Then again, this might not be great news. When the only roadblock to your success is putting in the hard work, there is no one else to blame but yourself.
Malcolm Gladwell also popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of practice is the magic number of greatness. Gladwell found that this magic number remained true regardless of natural ability, and that anyone can achieve a master level of proficiency by putting in the time. Obviously putting in the work won’t get you everywhere, though. If you’re 5’5” with no athletic ability, you probably will never be in the NBA, no matter how much work you put in.
10,000 hours is the equivalent of working a full-time job for 5 years, so it’s a significant amount of time. Have you ever known someone who worked at a job for 5 years, was very passionate and gave it their all, and was still terrible at their job, after 5 years? I’m sure that person exists, but I’ve never met them. Every passionate and hard-working person I’ve ever met that’s been in their field for several years or longer has excelled at their job, and many are probably considered virtuosos.
What if I am the only one to blame for my lack of success?
We are all our own worst enemies sometimes. If you don’t have any passion for a certain occupation, it may be hard to dedicate yourself to your work. Try different things in your spare time, or get a side-hustle; find something you can pour your passion and time into, even if it isn’t work. Once you find something you truly enjoy, reaching that magic number won’t seem so daunting. Even if you aren’t making money at first, once you are the best of the best there will probably be some way to use your skills for money.
In addition to becoming a virtuoso, putting in the extra effort at work will lead to higher satisfaction and greater personal development. If you aren’t in the field you want to be in, try different things in your spare time until you find something you have a knack for. Almost everyone can become a virtuoso, no matter how naturally talented, lucky, or gifted you are. The only obstacles in the way of your success are time and effort.
If you want to see what Brian and Bo said about virtuosos, or learn about the other 3 paths to wealth (that I completely ignored in this post), watch our latest video on How Rich People Get Rich: The Secrets Revealed!