I hardly ever watch TV, and on the rare times I do, I never get past SBS or ABC to a commercial station, and I most certainly have never, ever even considered watching a “reality” TV program.
Until recently, when we tuned in for the last few episodes of Masterchef, and I have to be honest – I’m starting to see what the fuss has been all about!
My wife Fiona and I both love food, cooking and entertaining, so there is an obvious attraction there for us to “see how its really done”. Then of course there is the drama, the personalities and the tension which really make the show compelling.
But the really intriguing element of the show for me was when my “success coach’s” brain kicked in and recognized a universal truth being played out on the program which effectively created the backbone of the drama and excitement of the competition. This concept is called “cumulative advantage”.
Let me explain. It’s a fair assumption that there are tens of thousands of talented aspiring chefs across Australia – but only a small number had the time and opportunity to audition for the program, and only a smaller number of those were selected to be a part of it.
So to be selected in the first place you had to have the means to live up to Woody Allen’s credo of “80% of success in show business is in simply showing up”.
Then of this small number who were a part of the show, those that showed obvious promise and won the early rounds were given additional training, tutoring, experience and mentoring as a reward for winning, thereby leaving those perhaps equally talented competitors at a distinct disadvantage.
As the eliminations continued, those who won the later rounds were given additional advantages, such as recipes in advance, their choice of ingredients, and so on. So the more you won, the more chance you had of continuing to win, and the more you didn’t win, the less chance you had of winning the next round.
This is the concept of cumulative advantage – whereby success in one area of life, or being given an opportunity to get ahead opens up a brand new series of advantages and opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
So here is the interesting thing about cumulative advantage – it creates an exponentially better outcome for the recipient. Consider that of all the thousands of aspiring Masterchef applicants, only one guy won the show and now has the prize money, media acclaim and an almost certain future as a “celebrity chef”, while the rest are still doing what they always did for the hourly wage or similar.
So in this case, the winner’s results didn’t come through hard work. They didn’t come because he was exponentially better than the thousands of others, or even because he was remarkably more talented than those he beat in the final rounds. (In fact it could be argued that at best he might have been 5% to 20% better than his competitors – and more likely he would be almost equal). His fantastic success has come about by putting himself in the right place at the right time, and by being a recipient of a cumulative series of advantages over his competitors.
This surprising concept holds true in almost any other area of life you care to investigate.
The rugby player who show promise as a junior gets selected into the state representative team and receives extra coaching, more game time, and sponsored boots, then goes on to be noticed by a first grade talent scout because he happens to be playing in a curtain raiser for a big test match…
The kid at school who is crazy about his guitar scores a job at a local music shop and spends his weekends with a guitar in his hands, mixing with other enthusiasts and occasionally meeting music legends in the shop, and then gets invited to play as a stand in for a well known local band one night, and then leverages the fact that he “played with” this band to get himself more gigs…
The young entrepreneur who spends so much time at seminars learning and absorbing from the best in the business that eventually he understands the seminar game so well that he gets asked by the promoters to be on staff as a highly paid consultant…
So what has this got to do with you as a health practitioner? Well, everything. You see, it’s a common misconception amongst practitioners that to be successful you need to work hard – and this, as we have seen above, simply isn’t true. Often there is also a sense of martyrdom about the health profession – that somehow, somewhere down the track we will be recognized for our skills, our passion, for how much we have given of ourselves to patients with no expectation of reward. My advice in this case is simply not to hold your breath for this to occur!
To be truly successful in our chosen field of health and wellness, we need to create for ourselves cumulative advantage.
We firstly need to “simply show up” – in other words, put ourselves in the firing line by attending workshops, flying to seminars, joining mastermind groups, and mixing with the most successful people in our profession.
Secondly, we need to humbly recognize and acknowledge excellence, talent and integrity in ourselves, and in doing so allow others to recognize it too.
Thirdly, we gratefully allow the cumulative advantages that we therefore attract to empower us and propel us forward, keeping in mind Marianne Williamson’s words “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to the same”.
As health practitioners, healers and community leaders, in my opinion there is no more important success that we could achieve than this.
Yours in health,
:a, Adam Gibson, Australian College of Natural Medicine, Health Practitioners, Lifestyle Practitioner Academy