Monday, August 16, 2010

Orkin’s Law of Supplemental Intrepidity

"Fortune Favors the Bold"

This phrase has appeared in various permutations for centuries, beginning with Second Century BC Roman playwright Terence in his play, 'Phormio'.  I'm quite fond of it. It brings to mind one of my favorite words: 'audacity'. It's a resounding call to action, a declaration that doing something is better than doing nothing.

But it seems somehow incomplete to me.

For quite some time, I've felt there was an Orkin's Law in it somewhere, but it just wouldn't take hold in my mind, so I placed it on the back burner to simmer for a while.

In my capacity working for St. George's University, I compose a document for medical students known as a Medical Student Performance Evaluations, or MSPE. The MSPE is critical to the students' applications for residency after they graduate, and is fairly complex, containing a great deal of statistical and evaluative information from various sources. Further, using the students' resumes, I incorporate some of their professional and educational history into the mix as well.

Even as twenty-somethings, their backgrounds are often impressive, with multiple degrees, research publication credits, diverse community service experiences, etc. Consequently, most of them have it together. They're organized, motivated, and professional.

Some of them - not a lot, but some - not so much. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they're kind of clueless, which is a little unsettling considering their intended vocation. They don't read the memos I send them. They miss deadlines. They don't respond if I contact them for information. And it's not just marginal students that do this. Sometimes, they're 4.0 students.

Though I do all I can to help them regardless, the simple truth is that the 3.0 student who's got all his or her ducks in a row has a better chance of getting a job than the 4.0 student who doesn't.

Many years ago, I was talking to the mother of my girlfriend at the time, and she was expressing a sort of resigned exasperation about her daughter, who was a brilliant musician. She said something like, "She'll pick the perfect music, find herself a perfect accompanist, practice three hours a day for four months straight until the piece is note-perfect, but forget to send in the application form."

What's the lesson? Talent and skill will only get you so far. True success lies in having command of the fundamental techniques to maximize your potential in any given situation.

Being bold is essential to success in this life. So yes, absolutely, Fortune does indeed favor the bold. But that's not the only tool in the toolbox. Hence:

Orkin’s Law of Supplemental Intrepidity: While it’s true that Fortune favors the bold, it also favors the well-informed and well-prepared.

Thanks for reading.