You’re Not Special

The Cuckoos CallingLet me start by saying that you’re definitely important, just not necessarily special. Let’s face it…

If everyone’s special then by definition, no one is.

OK let’s begin…

As a mobile app developer I know that success in the Apple App Store has less to do with the merit of your app and more to do with factors that are out of your control. For example if your app is by chance selected to appear in the New and Noteworthy listing of the App Store – then you have the 15 seconds of fame needed to be successful. While apps selected for this category are usually worthy of the selection, there are hundreds of equally worthy apps that are not selected. Some might call these external factors luck but more accurately speaking – it is chance. The problem is that if by chance you are the recipient of a fortuitous break, you might be inclined to think that you are special. However, my counterintuitive advice is…

Don’t equate success with specialness.

Robert Galbraith’s book, The Cuckoo’s Calling is a perfect example of this dynamic. Even though the book had received positive critical reviews, it had unremarkable sales. However this all changed after news was leaked that this book was in fact written by J.K. Rowling. After this revelation sales increased 150,000 percent!. Same book, hugely different reception. So take heart, even the great J.K. Rowling can experience failure and know that…

Talent and hard work doesn’t guarantee success.

The second, and more important part of my advice is…

Do not be duped by those peddling success formulas

Beware of “how to be rich and successful” scams that are based on the anecdotal experiences of others. As I’ve pointed out, their success probably required the inclusion of a fortuitous random event. So even though you follow their advice to the letter, without the random event, how are you to succeed? In fact by purchasing their product, you’re draping their initial random success in yet more success – further perpetuating the myth. So let me sum up by saying that if you’re talented and hard working – you’ve already succeeded. Now you just need to remember that…

Worshiping those who succeed is just as dangerous as dismissing those who fail because sometimes the only thing separating the two is a random break.


17 thoughts on “You’re Not Special

  1. Greg Mercer, MSN December 1, 2014 / 3:05 pm

    So rarely do I see someone promote an idea that to me is both crucial and self-evident. With relative terms like special or important, the meaning is entirely lost when it becomes universal. These words have meaning only when something, someone, is prioritized higher, and thus something, someone, lower. To say “everything has priority” is to insist on saying nothing meaningful at all, while pretending otherwise. Thanks!

  2. Sal's Blog December 1, 2014 / 4:34 pm

    Well said Greg! Thank you for the comment.

  3. Opher October 14, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    I think we’re all equally special.

  4. Jasbir Chatterjee July 1, 2017 / 8:37 am

    Wonderful write! Your dropping by and liking what you found is my randi

  5. Michele LaFollette July 9, 2017 / 7:20 pm

    Hi Sal, Thanks for the like…it led me to this post. I love it; agree with it. In the end, there are only a handful of people that consider me special, but those are also the people I consider special!
    Keep up the good work, I enjoy your blog!

    • Sal's Blog July 9, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Thanks Michele – love your blog

  6. fishinthec August 6, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    I’m having technical difficulty in pressing the “like” button, other wise I would. So I LIKE!

  7. I like how you turn around popular beliefs and make a good story.
    Well, I’m sort of a lot in critical thinking. I come from the Eastern Europe Latvia originally, and most of stuff which is widely popular in Canada where I haved for 15 years now, would never go through in Latvia.
    I like down to the Earth reality.
    It is true that all what matters is how you present it.
    That’s how great literature, music and art sometimes die unnoticed and very average works get all the fame.
    I just recently read some 20 books which had the label of whatever bestseller. I got them at a used book store. I was just like really disappointed. Some of these were big names and some had published between 40 and 60 books. Oh my, extremely average content and all the same formula for each one regardless of content. Flat characters, verbosity, that type of thing.
    I guess, I noticed your blog because it is different. Well, I’m trying to share my knowledge which I am getting from theories that are not known in North America since I speak 4 languages that are not that much loved here. It isn’t the art blog, but the other one:

    • Sal's Blog October 23, 2018 / 2:52 am

      Thank you for your thoughts and experiences on the topic. I’m looking forward to looking at your blog.

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