Get in the game
To start, you need to become useful in areas for which you have passion. To do this, you develop a solid platform to step onto, provided by a formal qualification embedded in conventional wisdom. Instead of a qualification, you could develop a skill or an experiential self-taught advantage.
Some successful people are self-taught, or they have achieved learning through personal experience. On the other hand, getting a qualification, at least for your first step, is like acquiring an ‘access card’. From a perspective of accessing success or significance, I believe it is essential that a portion of your learning be accrued through a formal education system. An additional benefit of a formal qualification is that it is generally accepted by society.
Get ahead in the game
Once you are useful, it is time to become valuable. To do this you question the answers provided by conventional wisdom. You build your knowledge to get into the front group of the game. You read, listen, think, write, and benchmark the best in your game.
Get ahead of the game
Your next step is to become rare. This requires of you to question the questions. No sacred cows allowed. You get new mind-altering knowledge by going beyond benchmarking your game and cross-pollinate the best in other games enabling you to enter new territory. This step requires you to move into the unknown.
You stay relevant by embracing what was previously unfamiliar to you, and in this way, the fear of the unknown reduces as you reconfigure your mind and change the game. Yuval Harari in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century writes: “The main struggle in the 21st century will be about becoming irrelevant, not about being exploited” (Harari, 2018).
I need to acknowledge that people who are extremely disadvantaged economically or who are dealing with challenging health conditions, like depression, face a greater struggle to muster enthusiasm or the resource deemed as ‘solid ground’ on which to start. Drawing on mental toughness applies – it is just tougher for them.
J.K. Rowling, billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, when giving the 2008 Harvard University commencement speech, referred to a time, shortly after writing her first book, when she was in dire financial and emotional straits. She claimed that rock bottom became the solid foundation on which she rebuilt her life. She added that there is an expiration date to blaming.