Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

David Foster Wallace said something about how when elite athletes try to say how they got there, it ends up sounding mostly like clichés, but that it's probably because most clichés became such because they hold some truth[1].

And yeah, they definitely look worse when listed off in bulk. You're probably best off picking a small handful that play to your strengths as a person and figuring out how to ruthlessly make habits of them.

The thing is -- cliché doesn't mean easy. Many clichés in both athletics and wealth building are very easy to understand on an intellectual level, but hard (for whatever reason) to put into practice for the required duration to reap the benefit. So there will always be a market for them to be remixed, repackaged, and expounded on ad infinitum[2], since the end results usually remain out of most people's grasp.


[1] I'm not saying all clichés are universal truths, just that many universal truths have at least one expression as a cliché

[2] I'm reminded of an exchange between two affiliate marketers on Twitter:

Aff-1: "It's 2015 and people still broke"

Aff-2: "It's 2015 and people still fat"

(Disclaimer: I'm feeling cynical today.)

I assume that elite athletes aren't complete idiots, though. When an interviewer asks them how they got where they are, it's not great PR to say "luck" or "genetics" or "my parents forced me", even if that were the most accurate explanation.

"I worked really hard for it" is the story that people want to hear.

Which is more likely: that cliché statements get repeated because of how true they are, or because of how much people like hearing them? Fiction has always sold much better than nonfiction.

Well because its true. Hard work for an athlete is even more important than hard work for getting rich. Luck and being in the right place, knowing the right people, right things, etc are all far more important these days for wealth than how many hours you put in at the office.

With athletics there are bunch of pre-reqs, and a lot of luck but for most physical sports your going to have to work as hard as you possibly can for years. The genetics and working hard makes you a competitor, then you have to find an edge to actually win.

Don't elite athletes' explanations of how they got there sound mostly like clichés because their stories are so similar to the aspirations and training and effort [initially] put in by the athletes who didn't make it to elite level?

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact