With over 350 million copies sold and 61 novels, Stephen King is an extraordinary writer.
Behind King’s success was his unforgiving daily habit of writing 2000 words. He seldom misses a day of writing – Christmas and New Year’s included. While his achievements are extraordinary, his system is quite boring.
Scott H. Young is an extraordinary learner – an ultralearner. He finished the four-year MIT Computer Science undergraduate program by taking online courses for one year. He also routinely masters foreign languages in six months.
While learning a new language, Young has a simple rule. He travels to a place where this language is spoken and from the first day, he does not speak any language but the one he is learning. He follows this rule everyday, until he is fluent in a new language in six months or less. Young’s language learning abilities are legendary, but his system is boring.
The conventional way at looking at people like King and Young is that they are ‘gifted’. We focus on the persons and not on the systems they use. Doing so lets us off the hook. We can never be those people, so why bother?
Yet, take apart the achievements of every ‘genius’ and you will find habits, rituals and systems that are more ordinary. And the reason they are extraordinary is because they have a massive tolerance for a boring daily routine.
It is less about the kind of person you are. It is more about how doggedly you can follow a boring, but effective system.