Ground Rules for Success

Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) recently spoke at Boing Boing Ingenuity on his ground rules for success as a maker. As someone who self-identifies as a maker, these really spoke to me. I'm going to post them here first, and I'll give my thoughts below.

1. Get good at something.
Really good. Get good at as many things as you can. Being good at one thing makes it easier to get good at other things.

2. Getting good at stuff takes practice.
Lots and lots of practice.

Everyone at the top of their field is obsessed with what they're doing.

4. Doing something well and thoroughly is its OWN reward.

5. Show and Tell.
If you do something well and you're happy with it, for FSM's sake, tell EVERYONE.

6. If you want something, ASK.
If something piques your interest, tell someone. If you want to learn something, ask someone, like your BOSS. As an employer, I can tell you, people who want to learn new skills are people I want to keep employed.

7. Have GOALS.
Make up goals. Set goals. Regularly assess where you are and where you want to be in terms of them. This is a kind of prayer that works, and works well. Allow for the fact that things will NEVER turn out like you think they will, and you must be prepared to end up miles from where you intended.

8. Be nice. To EVERYONE.
Life is way too short to be an asshole. If you are an asshole, apologize.

9. FAIL.
You will fail. It's one of our jobs in life. Keep failing. When you fail, admit it. When you don't, don't get cocky. 'Cause you're just about to fail again.

Work like your life depends on it...

I don't know that any are more important than others, but some are easier to follow than others. Having goals is easy, but sitting down to write them out and assessing where I am is hard for me. Not the actual act, but getting myself to do it.

The last one can be tough too. When I was still working for the school, I spent all of my spare time working on programming. Now that I'm doing the programming full time, it's easy to say "that's enough" when I get to the evenings. I don't need to spend every evening working on the same stuff I work on during the day, but I need to be working harder than I am. I need to not say "that's enough".

All in all, this is a great list. I find myself agreeing with every point on it. I highly recommend watching the video because he expands on each point a bit as he goes through them.


  1. Great points. So far I'm doing pretty good at 7 and 8, and REALLY good at number 9 when it comes to number 10. I can SEE the path to success...from where I'm sitting on my ass reading a book in the evenings.


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