Recently I read an answer on Quora that had an interesting statement.
“Don’t try to play a rigged game.”
Here is some context. The answer talks about why as a Ph.D. student, one should not try to start with a field that is crowded. You want a high impact paper that separates you from the rest. If you work in a field that people have been working on since ages, with teams and researchers of much high caliber than you, it is a game that you are bound to lose. A game that you cannot win is rigged. This is even more essential to those who are not studying in elite colleges and have a point to prove.
I think this statement is really accurate for every career on the planet Earth. People keep on trying hard to make a name in an already known field. You see Sachin scoring hundreds, you want to be a cricketer and hit sixes like him. You see Steve Jobs killing it with innovative Apple products, you want to be an entrepreneur and develop state of the art smartphones. The point is that these are the fields where people have already made strides and are way ahead of you. You would be like a Lilliputian in front of Gullivers. Think about what happens if you start your own company with technology similar to Microsoft products. Will you be able to entice users to come on board, if you give them the exact same thing but with more financial risk?
Everyone is supposed to have dreams. I am not discouraging you to drop your dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur or to become the next Rihanna. But you should know that no one became successful without bringing something new to the table. Einstein being a small patent clerk, would not have been famous without his path-breaking paper on relativity. Picasso would not have been such a huge sensation, had he kept on painting the boring portraits of rich wives (Both of their stories appear on a famous TV show Genius). Instead of playing the rigged game that everyone was playing, they rose above it. They created their own game, with their own set of rules.
This advice is most important for people entering into a new profession. Instead of going with the herd, choose something that no one has ever explored. Create a niche for yourself. Mind you, it isn’t going to be easy. But, at least you will have a shot at winning the game.