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Genius Without Work is a Myth.

Genius Without Work is a Myth.

When I was much younger than I am now, I was lamenting being a decidedly mediocre swimmer. I was decent, to be sure, and won a state gold medal once, but never succeeded in larger competitions, despite training with those who did and being able to keep up in practice.

I was frustrated and consulted my dad, the beacon of all wisdom at the time (to be clear, now that I'm almost 30, I'm back in the stage where I find him pretty smart. Hey, Dave!). He told me that as a coach, he'd take the person who worked hard over the person with natural talent any day of the week. His words were meant to encourage (and, to an extent, I agree), but they sent up an interesting dichotomy in my head: if you have natural talent, you don't have to work hard, and, if you work hard, you must not have much natural talent. You can't have both.


To be certain, there are those of us with a dash of both. Duality is a myth; almost nothing in life is all good or all bad, all black or all white. The "cult of the genius" is a myth.

Assuming the person with natural talent doesn't have to work at all is lazy. It says, "well, they will always be more talented than I am. I won't ever be the best, so I'm off the hook. I can stay small and not really try."

Chalking another's success up to mere genius is playing small, an insult to them and a disservice to ourselves. It's a copout, allowing us to accept that we will never be as good as they are, because they're born with it, and, while that may be true, accepting that idea takes us out of the arena and ensures that we won't succeed as far as they have.

From  Grit  by Angela Duckworth (one of my favorites; if you haven't picked it up yet, what are you waiting for?)

From Grit by Angela Duckworth (one of my favorites; if you haven't picked it up yet, what are you waiting for?)

It strips us of our power: it puts a ceiling on our abilities and adds jealousy into the mix (not a very powerful motivator).

Most importantly, it's none of our business. So what if someone didn't have to work as hard as you did to get to the same place? Does that change anything on your path? Probably not.

Not many of us get to skip steps. When the road gets rocky, readjust, sure. But keep the blinders on, stay in your lane, and refine the process rather than compare your path to that of another. Your goals may require a lot of work, a few stabs at it, and myriad adjustments, but that's okay. Tune in to you and stay the course.

You're a relentless motherfucker. šŸ‘Šā¤


On Learning (and Looking Stupid)

On Learning (and Looking Stupid)

Be the Snowflake, and What I'm Reading

Be the Snowflake, and What I'm Reading