Are successful people super talented or just lucky?

Who hasn't heard that if you want to be successful you should look at those who've made it big and imitate them? I know I have. The idea is that to make it to the top, you should model yourself after those who are already there because they obviously have what it takes to achieve success. But I just found out that research suggests that this is not such a great idea after all. Why? Because apparently those in the lead are not necessarily the most skilled. Really?

You might not agree with the research, but it's definitely an interesting look at what it takes to be successful. 


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Researchers conducted experiments that "modeled the results of a game played in many rounds." They discovered that after several rounds, the most skilled players didn't come in first place while the players who did got either lucky breaks or big payoffs for taking big risks. 

The theory makes sense, at least to me, and it reminds me that there's a lot more to be learned from someone's failures and struggles on their journey to perfect their skills than from someone who simply got lucky and made it to the top quickly and without struggle.

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It also reminded me of an interview I read yesterday in which the Cuban-born couple of fashion designer Isabel Toledo and her husband artist Ruben Toledo spoke about success and how its achieved. The thing that struck me the most is that they agreed that success is impossible without mistakes and false starts and that, in the end, you really don't have to lead--or follow--but rather do your own thing. 

What's your take on success? Do you think it's a good idea to imitate those at the top? Share your thoughts with us by leaving us a comment below. 

Image via Victor1558/flickr

Topics: starting a business  success  career