If you are like most people, then you want to change the world. You want to create something that people will remember and that can make a difference. However what do you need to do in order to do that?
Richard Hamming was a world-class scientist and a pioneer in computer engineering and telecommunications, and also worked with many other brilliant minds. He shared the lessons he learned through his lifetime of work in a series of speeches that he gave in front of future researchers.
These lessons are quite illuminating and I summarize some of his most important take-aways below:
Lesson 1: Ambition, motivation, drive. If you want to succeed, you need to be ambitious, and have the drive necessary to carry out that ambition.
Lesson 2: You need to turn failures into assets. Treat your setbacks as learning opportunities.
Lesson 3: If you can’t do a problem, try to figure out why not. Then turn it around and reframe it.
Lesson 4: You need to work hard. Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest. Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former.
Lesson 5: Hard work needs to be applied sensibly. Make priorities and focus on the right things.
Lesson 6: You need to keep an open mind. Being too rigid and stubborn can create problems, but so can being too skeptical. You always need to keep a balance.
Lesson 7: Creating important work is a matter of asking the right questions and working on important topics. If you work on unimportant stuff, you will never create anything that is of consequence.
Lesson 8: Luck is important, but luck also favors the prepared mind. You need to be able to strike when the opportunity comes.
Lesson 9: It’s not just about the brain, but other little things matter too.
Lesson 10: You need to have courage. The ability to take risk is what separates the successes from the others.
Lesson 11: And the last lesson and probably the most important is that you need to be able to sell your work. If no one sees it, it is as if it doesn’t exist.
Click on the article below to read a more detailed summary of many more of his insights and to watch his presentation:
How to make an impact in this world.
However keep in mind that many things are also products of a particular combination of circumstances and luck, so take the lessons as higher level principles only:
Beware of advice: What can we really learn from successful people.