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  • Writer's pictureLeo Wang

Embracing the 'Dull' Path to Success


In the annals of history, Zeng Guofan, a prominent Chinese statesman, was known for his self-proclaimed "dull" nature, often referring to himself as "slow-witted". Yet, it was this very characteristic that he believed led to his greatest achievements and wisdom. Inspired by the teachings of Laozi, Zeng Guofan embraced the principle of "great skill appearing clumsy," a philosophy that champions the virtue of perseverance over quick wit.


As entrepreneurs in a world teeming with rapid innovation and fierce competition, it's tempting to seek shortcuts to success. The allure of quick gains and the pressure to stay ahead can often lead to a restless pursuit of immediate results. However, the true essence of brilliance, as understood by Zeng Guofan and echoed in modern theories, lies in the steadfast commitment to honing one's craft, a journey often perceived as mundane or 'dull' by many.


Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Outliers," introduces the concept of the 10,000-hour rule, suggesting that true expertise in any field requires at least 10,000 hours of practice. This rule underscores the same principle that Zeng Guofan lived by: greatness is a product of persistent effort and patience.



For you, the entrepreneurs of today, this wisdom holds a crucial lesson. The path to innovation and success isn't paved with shortcuts. Instead, it demands a dedication to the 'dull' yet steady process of learning, experimenting, and growing. It requires facing challenges head-on, without succumbing to the temptation of quick fixes.


In your entrepreneurial journey, remember that the most significant breakthroughs often come from what appears to be the most unremarkable processes. Embrace the 'dullness' of rigorous practice and continuous improvement. The road to success isn't about outsmarting everyone in a moment; it's about outlasting the challenges through unwavering diligence.


As you embark on this path, remember that every step, no matter how small or slow, is a step towards mastering your craft and achieving true greatness. Let the stories of Zeng Guofan and the insights from Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule be a reminder that in the entrepreneurial world, the real winners are those who are willing to put in the 'dull' work, for they are the ones who emerge as true outliers.



Just as water must be heated to 100 degrees to boil, it is the unnoticed, persistent heating from 1 to 99 degrees that forms its foundation. Though these initial degrees may seem dull or mundane, they are essential, laying the groundwork for that final, transformative moment of boiling.

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