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child genius Hard Work Motivation

How To Be Successful When You’re Not A Child Genius Or Particularly Talented

Why People Can’t Relate To Most Celebrity Entrepreneurs

 

How many times have you heard a celebrity entrepreneur say something like “I started hustling at 7, built my first business by 9, built 3 more businesses by 11, and by 17 I flipped them all for a cool 8-Figures. Easy – anyone can do it!”, and suddenly you reflect and realise that you’re a total untalented loser who’s wasted their life – “OMG! Of course I should have had the foresight to invest $10k in apple in 2003 – the ipod and iphone were inevitably going to be mass successes – I’m such an idiot!”. 

 

Before you beat yourself up, stop for a moment. The world is filled right now with child geniuses (or at least ones who claim they were on their YouTube ads, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction), and while I’m sure their intentions are to be inspirational, for the most part they just leave people highly insecure. 

 

When all your life you’ve been pretty average, it’s hard to feel like you even have the right to stand in the same arena as these titans of teenage accomplishment. 

 

A Quick Life Summary Of Arthur Tutt

 

I thought it might be useful to paint a little picture of myself, where I’m at in my life and some of the things I’ve accomplished – and my intention is to paint a pretty picture of complete average (while still celebrating a few wins). So here we go:

 

I’m now 32 and a quarter years old (and yes, every quarter matters). I live in Toronto Canada, I’ve held jobs in Marketing, Engineering, University Research Assistant, Canadian Tire Customer Service Rep, and most impressively, a Pharmacy Delivery Boy. I’ve never held a job longer than about 3 years before I get restless, bored, and tired of people telling me what to do, before I move on and try the next shiny object. While I’ve always been a hard worker, I’d never say that I ever developed any specific talent or skillset to a high level of mastery. 

 

Some notable accomplishments in my life: I got my blackbelt in karate when I was about 17, graded highschool with a bilingual certificate in French when I was about 19, and became a licenced professional engineer when I was about 28. 

 

Beyond those 3 accomplishments, my life has been pretty full of average. In school I was a B+ / A- student, I’ve never really qualified for scholarships or awards, I’ve never graduated top of my class, I’ve never earned a crazy high income, I’ve never been the best at maintaining social connections, and really if you asked my friends or family whether they’d ever expect me to accomplish anything amazing, most would shrug their shoulders and say “well he’s sure a hard worker, but I’ve never seen much in the way of genius from him”. 

 

And that’s my point here – I’ve always been a hard worker, but I’ve never successfully been able to turn that hard work into anything particularly meaningful or noteworthy. And my guess is that if you’re reading these words now, you can relate to the feeling of being absolutely average, and never having accomplished anything of much significance in your life (or at least, you didn’t feel it was significant). 

 

So is all hope lost? Are we doomed to live lives of absolute mediocrity? Absolutely not. Just because we didn’t have the right guidance, mentors, motivation or inspiration as kids, doesn’t mean can’t grab life by the balls today, and turn everything around. 

 

The Problem With Child Geniuses

 

Everyone wishes they were born some kind of genius right? Wishing they were gifted, and ‘proper’ creative ideas. Then life would be easy right? Here’s the thing that nobody appreciates about child geniuses: they’re lazy. There, I said it. 

 

No disrespect to smart people, I’ve got some great friends and family members that are gifted and have things like PhDs. But it breaks my heart whenever I have a friend who’s clearly way smarter than me, yet lacks any real sense of ambition. 

 

See here’s the problem, when you’re a ‘child genius’, your entire childhood is on easy street – school is easy, projects are easy, and friends and family are constantly applauding your intense creativity and intellect. And then it gets to their heads. 

 

They start thinking they’re some kind of superhuman, amazing person, who’s just been endowed with these unbelievable superpowers. So why work hard when everything is so easy? There’s no incentive to build a strong work ethic, when everything is so easy. 

 

I’ve got a great friend, who all my life I’ve looked up to because of his insane intelligence. But he’s told me on several occasions: “you know Arthur, I really admire your ‘sticktoitiveness’ – your ability to just stick with a project and see it through”. My friend is a smart guy, but one of the consequences of being so smart, is you easily get bored. You get excited by new projects, quickly master them, then find them boring. Remember this: us mere mortals admire geniuses for their intellect, but many geniuses admire us for our ability to stick to a project and get it done. 

 

How Do You Get Motivated When Life Feels So Easy

 

Can you blame them? It is difficult to build motivation, hard work and discipline when everything in life comes so easily to you. And here’s the secret, this is the achilles heel, the weakness of geniuses, they can’t stick with a project long enough to truly master and complete it. 

 

It’s time to stop being jealous of what you don’t have, and start embracing what you do have: your unshakable will and determination to succeed. 

 

How To Build An Iron-Fisted, Rock-Solid, Unshakable Work Ethic

 

So how do you build an iron-fisted unshakable work ethic? Honestly (and this is good news), I think it helps to be a little bit dumb. I proudly admit that I’m not the sharpest cookie in the cookie jar. And to be honest, I’m kind of proud of it. 

 

“I always felt that I had to work harder than the next guy, just to do as well as the next guy.

And to do better than the next guy, I had to just kill.” – Dr. Dre

 

This quote says it all. To build an unshakable work ethic, you need to have been deprived in some way as a child. By feeling behind, by feeling not good enough, by feeling that deep insecurity – that’s where the fire and the flame comes from. 

 

A lot of people try to fix childhood trauma, as if living a ‘trauma free’ life is a good thing. I believe that sometimes our darkest demons propel us to complete our best work. Imagine for a second that everyone was ‘just happy’ – I know this sounds shocking but that wouldn’t be a very enjoyable world to live in would it? There would be no motivation, no one would have any desire to accomplish anything. 

 

The drive to succeed is driven by a deep feeling of lack. When we feel insecure, when we feel like we’re not enough, our survival instincts kick in, and suddenly we’re working on overdrive to get the work done. We have to put food on the table at the end of the day – and when we’re working on survival, we do what we have to do. 

 

People run from pain, but I love pain. When you’re in survival mode, the bullshit fades away. Our brains are built for survival. We’re wired for pattern recognition, and to get excited and move towards objects that help us survive and to blur out and move away from objects that don’t help us. 

 

When you’re in survival mode it’s easy to delete your social media apps – waste of time! It’s easy to stop going to parties – waste of time! It’s easy to stop playing video games – waste of time! The reason you waste your time doing dumb shit that you later regret, is because you’re not hungry enough, you don’t want it bad enough, you’re not lusting after success with laser focused 20/20 vision. 

 

You’re lost, you’re distracted. Which is why you’ll lose, and I’ll win. Because I want it more than you. That’s how you develop iron fisted discipline, by wanting it bad enough and knowing deep down that you’re entire survival depends on it. If you’re feeling too comfortable, maybe try fasting for a few days – that should kick in your survival instincts. 

 

Learning That I’m An ‘Optimizer’

 

Quick little side-tangent here, but the lesson will be relevant for you. Growing up with my friends we had an empire building game that we were super into called Civilization. There was about 10 of us playing and we’d all compete together on massive multiplayer maps. I wasn’t the worst, but I definitely wasn’t the best. Probably rank 5-7th place out of 10. 

 

But then we switched it up, and instead of playing live against each other we chose a map to play single player, and the goal was to see who could reach a certain technology the earliest (for any Civ lovers out there, it was Mining Inc). 

 

I played the map over and over and over and over and over again. I would figure out exactly how many units I’d need to take a city, how many turns it would take to research a new technology, and exactly what order I needed to do it in. 

 

Again and again, over and over again until I had optimized and streamlined as much as I could. I not only beat the standing record, but I destroyed it so thoroughly that no one even bothered to try to beat me. In a fit of despair they all said “alright, you win, I don’t think anyone here could ever beat that”. 

 

And then something clicked for me – I’m an optimizer. 

 

I’m not the greatest at real-time strategic decision making, however I have no equal when it comes to repetitively completing a task over and over and over again, to squeeze out any possible optimization I can. 

 

Take this blog as an example – behind the scenes my whole goal is to optimize the blog posts to the nth degree. To write these blogs over and over and over again, until they’re flawless – ranking at the top of search engines AND delivering you great content. It is an iteration problem, and I love the challenge of figuring it out. You have no idea how excited I am (and I can’t wait to see where this blog grows to in the next 3-5 years of hard work).

 

Accepting That You’re Pretty Average (And That It’s A Good Thing)

 

This sounds like I’m being an a**hole but I’m actually trying to be very positive here. We all get so caught up feeling like we could never succeed because we just weren’t given ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is. We compare ourselves to others and lament the fact that we weren’t born like some kind of magical savant who can see through time and taste the rainbow. 

 

Accept that you’re average. Accept that you’re a pretty basic, normal guy. And then say “Fuck you, I’ll do it anyway”. Resolve today that you will work harder, you will work relentlessly, you will work with unrelenting dogged determination, that no matter what you will figure it out and crush the competition. You don’t need to have been born with innate raw talent, you just need a relentless will to survive (and the good news is we’ve all got that).  

 

The reason most people never get started in life, is because they accept defeat before they’ve even stepped up to the starting line. They don’t even allow themselves to enter the stadium, let alone join the race. Why? Because they tell themselves they don’t have what it takes. They assume that they got skipped over when life was handing out talents, and that it’s better to just not even compete. 

 

I say bullshit. Accept and appreciate your averageness, and then realise that there is nothing that can stop hard work. If you want it bad enough, and you put in the time, you put in the hours, you can achieve. There is nothing in life that can stop a determined will. Stop crying about talent, focus on getting to work. 

 

Why It’s Great To Be Average

 

Honestly, it takes the pressure off. When no one expects very much of you, you can kinda get away with whatever you want. Let’s say you’re starting a new blog or YouTube channel. Most people complain that they have no followers. “No followers – what a disaster!”. But think about it, it’s secretly a blessing in disguise. 

 

If you have no followers, then there are no expectations. No one is reading or watching your content, so you’re actually free to post whatever you want. You could write literal nonsensical garble, and no one would notice, no one would care. 

 

Do you see why that is a beautiful thing? As you’re getting started and getting established, you’re going to make all sorts of stumbles, all sorts of rookie mistakes – and that’s great, it’s all apart of learning. The reason we’re afraid to make mistakes is because we’re afraid of being judged, but if no one is there to judge you, then the shackles have been removed. 

 

This is why I love and embrace being average, when no one has any expectations of me, I can get away with whatever I want. Now to be clear: I don’t plan on being average forever, and neither should you. The purpose of this exercise is simply to establish a comfortable baseline. Once established, our goal is to smash that comfort to smitherines and get you to grow in ways you never imagined possible. 

 

But nothing will ever happen if you never get started, and the simplest way to get started is to accept and love that you’re average, drop any fear of judgement you have, and just dive in. 

 

Work v Talent

 

It’s that old nature v nurture argument. Are you born with innate and unalterable talent, or, can you develop talent overtime with dedicated hard work. Call me naive, but I choose to believe in hard work. Whether it’s true or not, I choose to believe. Why? Because what’s the alternative?

 

The alternative is to imagine that people are these static charactetures of people, you have smart people and dumb people, successful people and unscucessful people, talented people and untalented people. And either you were lucky enough to be born into the right group of people, or you spen your life wallowing that you missed the boat, or complaining that your parents suck because they gave you the wrong genetics. 

 

Yikes, no thank you. So instead, I choose to believe that hard work is greater than talent. And I plan to prove it. Maybe theres a certain vindictiveness or vengeful part inside of me, but I choose to destroy my competition. 

 

Am I the best writer ever? Absolutely not. Am I the best marketer ever? Absolutely not? Am I the smartestet engineer ever? Abso-freaking-lutely not. But you know what? I don’t care. Because I know what I do have: a hard work ethic that is tough as nails, and a vindictive will to survive. 

 

I may not be the best or the brightest, but I will work you into the ground. I will run circles around you. I’ll make you look like a fool, and I will crush and destroy you. You might have had the upper hand in getting a headstart in life, but don’t forget it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the tortoise always steamrolls the hare. 

 

Growing From Average To A World-Class Master

 

“But Arthur!” I hear you exclaiming, “I don’t want to be just average!”. And Yes, I could’t agree more. The intention of this blog is not to celebrate being average. Personally, I’m not a fan of participation ribbons, I feel they’re not only dumb, but actually harmful in devaluing the importance of hard work and perseverance (once upon a time those used to be ideals of our society…). 

 

This blog is not here to make you average or to keep you average. This blog is designed to help you to excel and become a world-class master. My goal is for you to end up being the top leader in your industry. The highly-sought after thought leader, the world travelling public speaker – my goal is to make you legendary – to make you an expert and professional that everyone important in the industry knows and talks about. 

 

So why do I keep going on about celebrating average? Simply as a starting point, we all have to start somewhere and if the bar feels too high, sometimes we never start at all. So I’m lowering the bar to get you off to the races, but then we’re going to start raising the bar higher than you ever thought possible. 

 

Making The Transition To Master

 

So how do you then transition from being just mediocre and average, to being the top of the game? You probably already see this coming, but here it is: hard work. Yep, sorry, I know it’s not a very sexy answer. We all want the easy answer and the ‘top 10 hacks’, but there’s no substitute or shortcut on this one. 

 

The closest thing to a shortcut I can offer is to make sure your hard work is well spent. I am a believer in working smarter not harder. Just because you’re working ‘hard’ doesn’t always mean you’re being effective. 

 

How To Be More Effective In Your Work – Dedicate Serious Time

 

My first recommendation here to be more effective in your work is to dedicate serious time to it. If you only dabble in something for a couple hours a week, that’s not going to cut it. If you’re serious about getting good and becoming the best, you’re going to need to look into investing a minimum of 20 hours per week, 40 would be ideal, and at 80 we’re now getting serious. Side note: 84 hours works out to 12 hrs per day, 7 days a week. You game? 

 

Is Working 12 hours A Day Feasible?

 

My second recommendation is to always get 8 hours of sleep. Minimum. No exceptions. First of all, unlike most people out there into hustle porn (think Gary Vee, Grant Cardone, Arnold Schwarzenneger), I’m a big advocate of sleep. I think sleep is one of the most beautiful gifts, and I prize sleep above all else. 

 

To me there is nothing better than falling into bed exhausted after a long day, and knowing that you’ve got a solid sleep in front of you. Sleep is a gift, love and appreciate it. Sleep clears your mind, helps you focus, helps you de-stress, keeps you young, keeps you fit, keeps you health, and keeps your mind sharp. 

 

I fully recommend a full 8 hours of sleep, as well as giving yourself a buffer of an extra hour to get in bed, read a book, and maybe meditate for a bit. Rant aside – here’s my breakdown (in order of importance, and yes, despite my hard demeanor, I do rank sleep as more important than work) – let’s do a quick bit of math:

 

  • Sleep: 9 hours
  • Work: 12 hours
  • Eating: 1 hour
  • Reading: 1 Hour
  • Exercise: 0.5 hours
  • Hygiene: 0.5 hours

 

I’ve ranked this list in order of importance, so if you need to drop anything, drop hygiene, then exercise. One last point about sleep – I believe in long term success and long term happiness. If you cut your sleep to only 5 or 6 hours per night, you can get a way with that for a while, but eventually it catches up with you. 

 

I’m a big fan and supporter of Gary Vee, but damn that man has aged over the last few years. Zero disrespect, I love the man, but look at a video of him from 2014 and compare against 2021 – in only 7 years he’s gone from looking like a middle-aged man to someones grandpa. 

 

And that’s my point, good sleep is not optional for long term health and happiness. Sleep is one of those things that most people make a low priority. They do everything else instead of sleep, watch Game Of Thrones, party, scroll social media, argue with their partner. Literally everything except sleep. 

 

I’m the opposite, I put sleep at the top of my list. Getting 8 hours of sleep isn’t just some ideal that I aspire to, it’s something that I’ve consciously carved out time in my life to make sure it happens. If there’s one thing I could attribute my success to in life – it’s always making sure I get a good nights sleep. 

 

And before I beat this point to death, one last thought: it is so hard when you have to force yourself through life, force yourself out of bed, force yourself to drink that 4th cup of coffee, force yourself to keep going. I like an easy life. I want to play life on easy – why does everyone want to play so hard? I never drink coffee. 

 

Seriously. I never drink coffee anymore, or tea, or really anything caffeinated. I don’t need it. I spring out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, and I’m already getting my ass to work. By 8am I’ve usually accomplished more than most people have all day (hey when was the last time you wrote and published an entire 2000 word blog post by 8am? My point exactly). 

 

So get to sleep, get your body refreshed, Indulge yourself in that one luxury, then get your ass to work. 

 

How To Be More Effective In Your Work – Dedicate Serious Focus

 

My third recommendation builds off the first – which is to put serious dedicated focus into your work. It’s all well and good to block off 80 hours per week to ‘work’, but if work for you means regularly scrolling social media, chatting with friends, watching random YouTube videos, then you my friend, are not putting in dedicated focus. 

 

I have some books on my best business books of 2021 list I recommend, specifically Deep Work by Cal Newport and Mastery by Robert Greene. These books will straight up kick your ass. Here’s another harsh truth that most people run from, but is actually extremely liberating once you embrace it: multi-tasking is a myth. 

 

Maybe you think you can do it, and maybe you kind of can, but I guarantee in the long run it is shattering your focus, and leaving you an unproductive mess. I advocate for eliminating as many distractions as you can – delete apps, turn your phone on airplane mode, close your email, close youtube, whatever you need to do to regain focus, do it. 

 

As an example, in the last 40 minutes I’ve written 1200 words. Is that my best ever? Nope. But imagine your goal is to write a 1500 word blog post each day. You could have it written and published within an hour and be done your work for the day. Sounds pretty good right?

 

That is the power of deep focus, that you actually get stuff done. Stop pretending like you can multi-task, the sooner you have the humility to accept this, the sooner that you can move on productively with your life. 

 

How To Be More Effective In Your Work – Stay Hydrated

 

My fourth recommendation is to stay hydrated. This is one of those points that I shouldn’t have to say, but I’ll say it anyway: stay hydrated. Most people live their lives in a pretty dehydrated state, and it will negatively impact your focus, your well-being and your mental health. Luckily it’s an easy solution: just drink more water. I keep a 750ml bottle of water by my desk at all times, and I make sure I drink it full each day. That’s a minimum. 1.5L would probably be more ideal. 

 

How To Be More Effective In Your Work – Batching

 

My fifth recommendation builds off #1 and #3, now that you’ve blocked off large blocks of time to work, and you eliminated all distractions, batch your tasks. If you need to record a bunch of YouTube videos, record them all in one day. If you need to write a bunch of blogs, sit down and write them all in one day. The point of batching is it allows you to get into the flow state.

 

The problem with multi-tasking is that you’re always being ripped out of your flow state. Your mind is all over the place, always wandering, always thinking about what else it could be doing or getting distracted. So now we’re doing deep work – pick one task and get it done. 

 

For me, that means blog writing. It means sitting down and not moving until I get the job done. If my goal is to write 5000 words that day, you better believe I’m just gonna sit there until my fingers have whipped out 5000 words. 

 

Now there is an advanced version of this, which is to batch tasks in small bursts, or sprints of time. Some people use something called a Pomodoro timer (I just use the timer on my phone). The point is to set a timer (I typically do 50 minutes) and then work has hard as you can for 50 minutes. 

 

Mentally, it is pretty easy to get your brain to blast out a task over 50 minutes. It’s both a long enough time period to get significant work done, but also more importantly, it’s a short enough time period that your brain can get excited about it. 

 

Think about it, if you sit down at 7am and say “okay brain, we’re doing 12 hours of work, and we’re not moving from here until 7pm”, yeah you’ll get work done, but your brain will also subconsciouyl pace you. Your brain knows you’ve got a long day a head, and it doesn’t want to run out of energy, so you naturally work a bit slower as your brain tries to get you through the full day. 

 

The beauty of working in 50 minute sprints is your brain says “cool! Let’s go flat out for 50 minutes then take a break”, and for 50 minutes you literally just blast it out the park. 

 

How To Be More Effective In Your Work – Warp Up

 

So there you have my top 5 recommendations to be more effective in your work:

 

  1. Block off large blocks of time
  2. Get 8 hours of sleep religiously each night
  3. Maintain serious deep focus on your task
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Batch your tasks and work in sprints

 

These recommendations on the surface seem simple, yet many people never actually implement them. I’m an advocate that if you actually want to accomplish anything of any real significance in life you’re going to need to implement all, or at least most of these.

 

Everyone imagines that success in life is some crazy, mystical, amazing thing, that some people were just lucky enough to be born with ‘it’. Not true. I know it’s not very sexy, but if you follow these recommendations and actually implement them properly, you’ll be able to achieve more in your life than you ever thought possible. 

 

Using myself as a wonderful example here: never in my life have I ever really thought of myself, or seen myself as a writer, yet over the last 2 weeks I’ve pumped out over 50,000 words. Try it yourself, that’s a lot of words. 

 

It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t because I was ‘endowed with super human writing abilities’, or even intellect, I just followed my 5 simple recommendations above. I kept myself hydrated, got excellent sleep, blocked off large blocks of time to work, turned off my phone and notifications to get into deep work and batched my tasks into short sprints so I could just burn through and get the work done. It’s surprising how much you can actually accomplish when you just make those few simple adjustments. Yes, it does take sacrifice, you can’t be out eating tubs of hagendaaz with your girlfriends at 2:37am, you gotta get the work done. 

 

Oh yeah, and don’t forget this was all accomplished while working full time at a marketing agency, and maintaining some personal clients on the side. Writing isn’t even a full time job for me (yet). 

 

Happy hunting,

 

Oh! And here’s Tim Ferris and his thoughts on the concept of 10,000 hours and the value of hard work. :

 

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