Axios Finish Line

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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 455 words ... 2 mins.

1 big thing: Beating the odds

Illustration of a small child being helped up a later by a giant hand
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Here's a corollary to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule: Greatness not only requires practice but opportunity.

  • Why it matters: This is essential for our kids. It takes time and hard work to master something, but it also takes the help of parents, teachers and family members to foster that talent and create the time and space for children to excel.

Case in point: Legendary musician Bono had to overcome a potentially insurmountable obstacle, he reveals in a new excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, published in The New Yorker. His mother actively discouraged music, he notes.

  • "Iris [his mother] wasn't looking for those kinds of signs in me, so she didn't see them."
  • "When my grandmother decided to sell her piano, my hints about how well it would fit in our house could not have been any less subtle. 'Don’t be silly, where would we put it?' was the reply."
  • "When I interviewed at St. Patrick's Cathedral Grammar School, in the city center, the principal asked if I had any interest in joining their famous boys' choir. My eleven-year-old's heart stirred. But Iris, sensing my nervousness, answered for me: 'Not at all. Paul has no interest in singing.'"

The big picture: All of us — especially younger people and kids — deal with imposter syndrome from time to time. That can be crippling even if we put the hours of determined, hard work into our craft.

  • We worry that we don't belong or aren't good enough and wonder if it might be easier to simply step back or give up.

In these times, the best gift we can give our children, our friends, our colleagues and ourselves is confidence.

  • Here are a few of the Child Mind Institute's top tips for inspiring confidence in kids: Model it yourself; encourage them to try new things; let them fail and praise them when they persevere.

The bottom line: Be on the lookout for people's talents and do your part to give them the confidence to keep at it.

💬 Bad habit hack

In response to our story on breaking bad habits yesterday, Finish Line reader Lynne C. from Everett, Pennsylvania, sent us this smart tip that has proved successful:

  • "A great approach to tackling bad habits that has worked for me is postponing taking an action. Want to quit drinking alcohol?  Postpone having the next drink.  Smoking cigarettes?  Delay buying the next pack.  Eating too much?  Don't grab that snack right away."
  • "Delay the action for a few minutes, which can turn into hours, which, in turn, can become days.  I have used this method to successfully overcome many bad habits over the years."