Now that West has achieved billionaire status, according to Forbes, people are pointing to that achievement as proof that what has often been deemed insanity (he has been open about his mental health challenges), is actually genius. Some are going even further, defining his mental health issues, eccentricities (whether real or contrived), and “outside of the box” thinking as the formula for great wealth and success. The thinking of these folks goes pretty much like this, as stated by one of my Facebook friends:
“Genius and so-called insanity are partners. Most billionaires and millionaires are eccentric. And most people deem them a little insane. Start thinking outside the box and massive success will soon follow.”
Stories of the insane billionaire genius are among the great and enduring myths of wealth creation. They are anecdotal notions, romanticized in books and films, with practically zero objective evidence, data, or research to support them. However, billionaires and millionaires are no more eccentric or prone to being seen as insane (and/or actually having mental health issues) than the rest of us. There is far more to achieving “massive success” (including great wealth) than merely “thinking outside the box.” Also, there is zero correlation between the ability to profit from ideas, even massively, and so-called “genius.”
It is true that people often achieve great wealth from new and unexpected ways of thinking, and that people often view their ideas as “crazy” until they work. However, there is a good reason for that: most outside-the-box ideas don’t work. What drives the myth that they do is that everyone sees, knows about, and celebrates the relatively rare, but huge, successes and almost no one hears about, remembers, or promotes the countless, unremarkable failures. After all, how many people want to memorialize and document the ideas that don’t work?
Long-term success, including massive wealth creation, is far more a function of being willing to endure the failure of hundreds, even thousands, of bad ideas to get to a good one. Becoming a billionaire genius is about persistence, not just being crazy and eccentric. Believing otherwise is why people become too discouraged to keep going when their first or second attempt at executing an outside-the-box concept doesn’t result in their achieving millionaire status overnight—as they’ve been too often led to believe by more than a few “success” coaches.
To quote Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Kanye West may or may not be a billionaire genius. However, he is successful not because he is insane, a genius, talented, or any combination of these, but because he never becomes so discouraged by the failure of his many bad ideas (whether crazy and/or “outside the box” or not), that he becomes unwilling to press on until one of them actually works.
This is an opinion piece that does not necessarily represent the views of BLACK ENTERPRISE.