I have been reading a book called Factfulness, with a subtitle that says Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think’. Bill Gates supposedly called it one of the most important books he has ever read. The book begins by asking the reader to answer a few questions such as “In the last twenty years, the majority of the world population living in extreme poverty has: A) Almost doubled B) Remained the same C) Almost Halved.” By the way, only 5% got this right. The correct answer is C. The number of people worldwide who live in extreme poverty has been halved in the last twenty years – yet most people think the opposite. The book is loaded with interesting facts, but even more importantly, it explains why people tend to focus on the negative rather than the truth. Factfulness is an easy read, and in this age where every headline is designed to shock and scare you, it’s a refreshing look at the world as it really is.
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors said “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”. The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” A few days later the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out “Your horse has returned and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” and the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
I’ve written about this in other iterations. I’ve talked about finding your rhythm, and the importance of letting things come to you, not forcing things, and then riding the momentum when you have the wind at your back. The point of it all is that success is not linear. Progress doesn’t follow a straight line. For most people, the journey is long and winding. It looks more like a stairway or a hockey stick.