It’s Never too Late to Succeed

A New York Times article just came out about a study that shows success is not age related. The article was in part based on large scale study that was recently published on

The idea might be counter intuitive when you think about the great discoveries and successes of our time. A lot of names that we know such as Bill Gates, Einstein, Steve Jobs, all made their mark at an early age, and it’s easy to assume that things have to be this way.


However, the results of this study show that age is not as relevant to success as we think. The biggest splash a person makes with their work can be at any time in their career, and is based on persistence, productivity and luck.

Productivity is quantity, how much you publish, how many inventions you make, how much music you put out there. Quantity counts. Throwing a hundred darts has a better chance of hitting your target than one.


Luck is luck. It’s a part of who you know and who knows about you, it’s who sees your work at the right time and it’s part of embracing opportunities.

The researchers boiled this down to something called the Q factor, where Q is the ability of someone to take advantage of the available knowledge in a way that enhances or diminishes the potential impact of their work.

It’s the drive, passion, and time spent focusing on your projects and getting the word out. The reason younger people seem to make a mark earlier is simple: they have time.


Before you settle down and start a family or embark on a career or buy a house or find a nice damp cave to live in, whatever your idea of settling down is, before this happens you generally have time on your hands. Time to play. Time to party. Time to practice. Time to get in trouble. Or, if you have an idea, time to devote yourself to this idea.

Success is measured in a lot of ways. It could be financial or the respect of your peers or something on a personal level. Regardless of your definition of success, if your projects pay for themselves and you can keep working on them, then you are successful.

Once a hobby becomes your work, you’ve discovered your vocation.

Thomas Edison said there is no such thing as failure, just ways not to do something. The trick is to throw enough darts until something hits the bulls eye. Focus on your passions and don’t let other people throw your darts for you.

You’ve also probably heard that it’s a good idea to have a backup plan. Problem is, having a backup plan that doesn’t work out sounds like a way out without resolving the issue. Instead of a backup plan, there’s another, less final, way of looking at it. It’s a philosophy shared by the people on this page:

Attack issues from all angles until, inevitably, they are solved.