Yesterday I was listening to an interview of Malcolm Gladwell. The interviewer asked Malcolm why he didn’t believe in genius. Malcolm said that successful people are those with a great, all-consuming love for what they are doing, not because of some genius quality.
He gave an example: When Wayne Gretsky was 2 years old his parents would let him watch hockey games on TV; after each game ended he cried because he loved the game so much he didn’t want it to end. This love for hockey consumed him and he went on to become arguably the greatest hockey player of all time.
Albert Einstein was great because he had a tremendous curiosity. He didn’t strive to become the greatest scientist in the world. He simply wanted to understand how the universe worked. As a side-effect of his great curiousity he became arguably the greatest scientist of all time.
This is what I learned: Don’t strive to be a great hockey player (or scientist or teacher or researcher or whatever). Instead, be filled with a tremendous love for hockey (or science or teaching or research or whatever). If you do that, then you will become great without even trying to become great.