The No. 1 Predictor Of Career Success According To Network Science
Michael Simmons


In his brilliant article on predicting career success Michael Simmons describes a characteristic quality of outliers. You could call them outsiders, moving in ‘open networks’ because they cannot fit in.

This might not be their first choice, but a matter of survival.

Some call them ‘round pegs in square holes’, because they are too different, too individualistic, too creative, and too rebellious, to be limited by any existing formula or structure.

But they must also have an inborn drive – not just to succeed, but to share a unique gift with the world – to push the human race forward.

Without a deep passion to give life to something new, precious, and rare, they would not have the strength to weather the storms that a life without respect for the status quo throws at them.

“People in open networks have unique challenges and opportunities. Because they’re part of multiple groups, they have unique relationships, experiences, and knowledge ... it can lead to feeling like an outsider … because few people understand why you think the way you do. It is also challenging, because it requires assimilating different and conflicting perspectives into one worldview.”

This is what many people experience in a ‘multicultural’ life. Millions feel like misfits, see things differently, and are not fond of rules. Yet, instead of exploring the ‘open network’ available to them, most feel drawn to a small cluster of like minded kindred spirits. It feels safer. The soul-family can compensate a little for the lack of roots and home.

In search of success we are told to ‘find a niche’, identify a specific ‘ideal client’, become singleminded while developing a product, and focus on ‘gathering our tribe’. Then we huddle together in support groups of people who are trying to do exactly the same.

While single-minded focus is essential, limiting ourselves by the edges of our comfortzone is not the path to a successful creative life.

In this context Steve Jobs’ phrase “Creativity is just connecting things…” is an unexpected stumbling block. It cannot be that simple. Even if you have all the creative talent in the world, and if the thing you do comes easy, creativity – especially making creativitiy a successis NOT just connecting things.

The hero’s journey is full of personal challenges and discoveries, tests and trials, resistance, gifts, obstacles and real battles. If a creative person feels ‘a little guilty because they didn’t really do it…’ watch out, the next big battle might be just around the corner.