No shortcuts to success

In the 21st century we’re conditioned to expect speed. We use apps because they are faster than searching. We like followers to respond to our social media thoughts within seconds. The web site loads instantaneously; and if it doesn’t we conclude the site must be down.

Yet there is still one thing that will never come to us quickly—success. There are no shortcuts to success either —just ask anyone who ever purchased a weight loss program that advertised fast results without a long-term commitment to diet and exercise.

I was recently reminded of the discrepancy between the speed in which we usually receive things and the time it takes to succeed when I attended a reception honoring the Dyson College Fed Challenge Team. You may remember that our Pace team won the annual national College Fed Challenge in December for the second year in a row. The Pace team beat out teams from Princeton University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bentley University, and Northwestern University.

Last year at a similar reception I asked one of the team members how he accounted for the team’s success. He said, “We work harder than anyone else. We are better prepared.”

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Our team won because they understood the dedication and time it takes to obtain real mastery of the issues in a new and complex field—which is the same dedication and time it takes to become a leading professional. To put in that kind of effort and realize a positive result is hugely satisfying.

The faculty members who worked with the team, principally Professors Mark Weinstock and Gregory Colman, also understand what it takes to succeed in this competition and in life. They did so much more than teach these students about monetary policy. They created a culture that led a group of students to believe that they could compete at the highest levels and win—and that the accomplishment would offset the sacrifices required to make it happen.

This is truly higher education at its best—creating a desire for learning at as deep a level as possible so that learning becomes a motivation in itself—the classic academic search for truth.

Congratulations to the team and its coaches on an outstanding feat.