By Michael McCauley I was reflecting on Malcolm Gladwell‘s assertion in Outliers: The Story of Success that true expertise requires 10,000 hours of practice. Then I read about James Dyson, father of the modern, bagless vacuum cleaner. His story is  amazing, and he is a true positive deviant. To get his invention to market took him 14 years, multiple lawsuits, and more than 5,000 prototypes! Dyson credits his confidence in himself and his idea for pulling him through the tough times. Early on he believed that people succeeded only if they had the best of everything – the best idea, the best connections, the best facilities, etc. But then, through a chance meeting with another entrepreneur, he realized that to be successful you had to follow your heart – if he thought it was a good idea, then he should pursue it and not worry about what people thought.  Another positive deviant, Henry Ford, once said that “”Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” He was a prolific inventor and was awarded more than 160 U.S. patents in his lifetime. But they didn’t come easy. His first automobile company went out of business. He then was forced to leave his second automobile company, and went through financing troubles with his third. However, through it all, he knew his idea was the right one – an inexpensive car for the masses – and he wouldn’t give up. There are numerous other stories of those who persevered. Whether it’s Dyson with his 5,000+ prototypes or Ford with his multiple tries at forming a successful company, one of the things that makes positive deviants successful is their unending patience, persistence,  and their “never give up” attitude. Today’s world seems to reward just the opposite – we want everything done quickly.  How many of us are willing to stick with an idea long enough to see it through, even against overwhelming odds? But that’s exactly what positive deviants do – they never give up!]]>

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