In response to the nature vs nurture post one of the readers had a link to this article from New York Times (Thanks Mukesh): “Sorry, Strivers – Talent Matters”. Got me thinking again about nature and nurture (I suppose that was the intent anyway). I used to be parked firmly in the “talent” camp back in my immature callow days but thankfully over the years my views on the matter have become more nuanced. My assertion in fact is exactly the opposite to that stated in the article: Striving is all that matters.
If we are trying to predict “success” in any given sphere of life, we can divide the competing folks into 4 categories, those with: 1) No talent and lots of motivation, 2) Lots of talent and no motivation, 3) No talent and no motivation and lastly 4) Lots of talent and lots of motivation. Now if we define fulfilment in life as realization of one’s potential, numbers 1) and 4) will get to enjoy equally fulfilled lives. The actual material success for category 4) will probably be higher compared to that for category 1), so yeah talent matters. But you cannot say sorry strivers!! Categories 2) and 3) are the sorriest bunch of people, one might even say that 2nd category is by far the worst. We all tsk tsk when we meet people who are wasting their potential. By choosing not to strive, we give up our only chance of discovering true happiness in life.
What matters in our otherwise mundane existence on this planet is not where we get to but how we get there. We all need to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from our actions. The successes we achieve in life through the dint of our hard work taste so much the more sweeter for the labor and toil involved. The lessons we remember most in life are the ones we learn the hard way. Things that are handed to us on a platter somehow do not have the same meaning. We cherish the feeling of having “earned it”. Accomplished con artists and thieves will take no pleasure in robbing the blind so to speak. A tennis player with superior ability will get no enjoyment from beating a lowly opponent. The point being that we can get by in life easily by operating at just ~50% of our ability i.e without striving. That will be a very sorry existence however. Struggle plays a key role in achieving satisfaction in life. Striving is the key to thriving or no pain, no gain.