Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘talent

Redundant. Redundant at all stages of life. Still hoping for breakthrough?

You join people at an event and you are not noticed, invisible, no one even that mean to ask you a question.

Those who “knows” you, know that you never talk, participate in the conversation or even ask a question.

When young, my parents never sat with me or my sibling in a one on one conversation. I was Not to join the invited people and listen to their conversation.

Actually, my parents were “stranger” to me when I was dispatched to a boarding school at age 5. My brother and sister were even much younger when they were sent home to save them from Africa diseases.

They paid me visit, one summer out of two, since they were working hard in Africa to eek out a living, in towns lacking of everything, even electricity.

The most memorable moment I heard this word Redundant was from an elder British person working at headquarter as the official letter writer to the company. Sort of only educated elder British colonial figures can deliver obtuse and confusing letters to suppliers…

I was hovering around in the maintenance shop at the headquarter in Warri, Nigeria, and waiting for my airplane ticket to be ready and receive the order to leave. That was in 1980.

This British “official” saw me, smiled and threw at me: “Are you redundant?”. He was expecting of me to be totally flabbergasted at this unusually “difficult” expression and he resumed: “Do you understand what redundant means”? I felt this urgent retort back at him: “What about you? Do you feel pretty redundant these days”?

This British person behaving as a remnant of the colonial era was Not that bad. He had a library in his home and I borrowed a few English books from him to fill my time, 6 months prior to this date. You don’t find people enjoying reading after a day work. Do you?

Yes, I was mostly a very quiet person and didn’t participate in any discussion for over 50 years.

In my youth, I was the forgotten person that they recalled existed and they needed to fill the bus for a trip. We had many trips in summertime. People sang, laughed, danced, cracked jokes… and I kind of felt aloof, having no talent in any of these “entertaining” skills.

Ten years ago, I decided to be funny and entertain the gathering by describing my “redundant situations” in life.

People found me hilarious, on the basis that deep down I am explaining their emotional condition, mainly that everyone knows that he is redundant.

Cracking jokes at my expense. And that is the initial stage before you earn your badge of honor of speaking frankly on the other people redundant life.

Let me be clear: almost all of my life I felt disoriented and trying hard to get me a “talent” in anything to be “hirable”. Vast general knowledge in almost every subject matter was Not a negotiable subject in any productive job.

No surprises that jobs are mostly boring and your work acquaintances are Not used to share but their boredom and redundancy expressions.

You realize that you do have a quick mind, if you decide to talk about your limitations, limitations shared by most and wanting to be reminded of them and laughing at them.

Note: I say: If a quote with the proper context matches your state of mind at a period run with it. Feeling obligated to refer to “who said what he said” is Not only redundant but dangerous in spreading “religious concepts” that are hidden within the quote.

If there is a Creator (or a bunch of them) for this entire Universe and all the species, your personal existence should Not mean much to Him. If there is No creator, you have wasted your life on an abstract concept that brought death and destruction for the living.


If Talent is overrated, should belief (commitment) be automatically underrated?

Adams and Jefferson, Founding Fathers of the United States, didn’t always like each other. Toward the end of their lives they came to appreciate and respect each other, but for much of their political careers they were rivals.

By Dan Rockwell?

Jefferson’s compromising skills offended a dogmatic Adams, for example.

They were at odds but they invested their lives in a shared mission.

Committing to shared mission and vision binds talent together.

I constantly hear, “Find great talent.” But, fools think talent is enough. Leaders miss the point when they focus on talent and neglect shared mission.

Talent without shared commitment is disruptive and dangerous.

Off target interviews:

Job interviews miss the target when they focus on what people have accomplished and neglect what they believe in. Spend more time talking about organizational vision and values.

Dig deep into belief systems. See if their eyes light up when you share your mission.

Shared mission:

  1. Binds diverse people and groups together.
  2. Builds connections where people respect each other even if they don’t like each other.
  3. Enables a context where people rely on the performance of others.

Great talent strengthens organizations as long as everyone deeply commits to a shared mission. Apart from that, diversity is paralyzing chaos.

Don’t just tell me what you’ve done, tell me what you believe.

True believers:

Some are too good to deeply believe in an organization’s mission. They’re too talented, too smart, or too proud. They have their own agenda.

They feel they lower themselves if they “drink the kool aid.”

“Company men” are looked down on by aloof elites. I’ll take a true believer with average talent over a disconnected hot-shot any day.

Talent is overrated – belief is underrated.

The leaders who founded the United States believed and because they did, they committed. These are the people who change things.

Note: All these USA “founding fathers” had plantations and refused England’s new law to stop slave trade. Thus, they decided to split through independence. Was this a shared mission? Certainly, the mission was camouflaged under abstract notions from the common people.

Skills vs. talents

If you can learn it, it’s a skill.

The thing is, almost everything that matters is a skill.

If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is able to use effort and training to get good at something, it’s a skill.

It’s entirely possible that some skills are easier for talented people to learn.

It’s entirely possible you don’t want to expend the energy and dedicate the effort to learn that next skill.

But realizing that it’s a skill is incredibly empowering and opens the door of possibility.

What are you going to learn next?

Note: Talent? A skill learned quicker than average dedicated person?

The ripples

Every decision we make changes things. The people we befriend, the examples we set, the problems we solve…

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get to glimpse those ripples as we stand at the crossroads.

Instead of merely addressing the urgency of now, we can take a moment to focus on how a quiet insight, overlooked volunteer work or a particularly welcome helping hand moves so many people forward. For generations.

How did you get to where you are?

Who is going to go even further because of you?

Posted by Seth Godin on September 28, 2016

Pass on the baton


How’s your Talent for enjoying life? Your right to pursue Happiness?

A few times I’m asked: What kinds of music you like to listen to? My answer is invariably: I don’t know.

It’s not that I don’t listen to music, all kinds of music.

I love documentaries on music bands and the history of the various kinds of music, including classical music and composers.

I tend to hop, dance and clap when I hear a music that I like.

The problem is, if the environment (people and surrounding) is not conducive to talking and listening to music, then I lack the talent to pick up and register what the environment is sending as signals, hints and rhythms.

I do lack this imaginative and sensitive sort of memory that is triggered by music.

Are you hungry? Yes. What do you like to eat? My answer is: I don’t know. I’m Not picky and can eat anything you order…

It’s not that I have no tasty buds or that I love to eat and I tried all kinds of cuisines, West and East.

The problem is that I lack the talent to retrieve from my taste bud memory what I love to eat at the time of the question.

Are you thirsty? Yes. What do you like to drink? My answer is: I don’t know. I can drink anything you order. You don’t have to fret on my account…

The problem is that I lack the talent to retrieve my alcohol-induced memory for what I feel like drinking now.

This is not restricted to alcoholic drinks.

Do you want tea, coffee, Nescafe, milk… I don’t know. Don’t bother on my account. I drink what you feel like drinking.

Probably my mental capacity feels lazy to invest the necessary effort to give a definitive answer that is appropriate to the environment.

I used to blame conditions, situations, circumstances … for my deficiency in enjoying life. I got it all wrong.

Don’t get me wrong: I like to be entertained, dance, go to concerts, have adventures….

The problem is that I had to come to term that the problem is Me.

I don’t have it this talent to enjoy life.

How you were brought up and your living conditions play a mighty catalyst in increasing the quality of your joy for living, but they are not the main factors.

The main factor is: Have you got the talent to enjoy life? Yes? No?

I feel hurt when I get to know people who are in the same boat as me: they lack this talent to enjoy life.

It has nothing to do with genders, wealth, color of skin, cultural differences…

It is strictly an individual quality, a mix of characteristics and talents that distinguish you from the rest of the lame and sad people.

You can be born in a filthy rich family and not know how to enjoy life.

You can be born in a family living in a wretched neighbourhood, and yet you know how to enjoy your life to the hilt.

I had a varied childhood in conditions and situations, with plenty of varied opportunities to learn how to enjoy life: And yet, my childhood passed me by.

I had a youth with multiple fantastic opportunities to learn how to enjoy my life, and youth passed me by.

Opportunities add dimensions to the quality of life enjoyment, if you got the talent.

What is most essential is: Have you been trained as a child to enjoy life, all the artistic facets that enrich the quality of life enjoyment?

Proper Nurturing  at an early age is the key factor to set you free from the lot of the lame ands sad people.

You hear a wife saying of her husband: He is a contented man. He never complains or demand of much any thing… He maybe a jovial person in his demeanor, but deep inside he still has no clue what to demand.

You hear a mother saying: I had no trouble raising this child… This child never learned what it is to enjoy life in order to ask and demand for more of what he is experiencing.

And I cannot help wondering:

People who were born in an environment (family and culture) that stump the talent for enjoying life, who were robbed from this nurturing zest for life, have no reason to live.

And the family has no right to give them birth: Abort all of them.

This situation is totally unfair.

This is the worst kind of crimes against human rights: Murdering the right of pursuit to happiness in the bud.

Have you got the talent to enjoy life? Yes? No?

Non Transferable Domain Dependence:

Profession, talents, skills, book smart, street smart…

You talk to medical professionals on medical matters and they “intuitively” understand you.

Talk to them on related medical examples based on economics or business perspectives and their attention falter.

Apparently, insights do not pass well from one field to another, unless you are not a professional in any specific field

This knowledge transfer is also domain dependent such as working in the public domain or in private.

Or coming from academia and having to switch to enterprise environment and having to deal with real life problems.

Same tendency when taking a job selling services instead of products.

Or taking a CEO job coming from a marketing department: he talents and skills are not the same and you tend to adopt previous and irrelevant skills that you are familiar with.

Book smart people do not transfer to street smart individuals.

Literary critics’ novels get the poorest reviews.

Physicians are more prone to smoke than non-medical professionals.

For example, police officers are twice as violent at home compared to other normal people.

Nobel Prize Harry Markowitz for his “portfolio selection” theory and applications could not think better than investing his saving 50/50 in bonds and stocks.

Decision making mathematical theoreticians feel confounded when deciding on their own personal issues.

Many disciplines require mainly skills and talents, such as plumbers, carpenters, pilots, lawyers…

As for financial marketing, financial investors and start -up companies… luck plays the bigger role than do skills.

Actually, in over 40% of the cases, weak CEO leads strong companies.

As Warren Buffet eloquently stated: “A good management record is far more a function of what business boat you get into it, rather than of how effectively you row”

Note: Real “The art of thinking clear”


Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators

The psychological origins of waiting (… and waiting, and waiting) to work.
Lots of people procrastinate but for writers it is a peculiarly common occupational hazard.
“Fixed mind-set,” people versus  “growth mind-set” who thrive on challenges because they would learn something they had no talent in.
A good read.
 posted this FEB 12 2014

Like most writers, I am an inveterate procrastinator.

In the course of writing this one article, I have checked my e-mail approximately 3,000 times, made and discarded multiple grocery lists, conducted a lengthy Twitter battle over whether the gold standard is actually the worst economic policy ever proposed, written Facebook messages to schoolmates I haven’t seen in at least a decade, invented a delicious new recipe for chocolate berry protein smoothies, and googled my own name several times to make sure that I have at least once written something that someone would actually want to read.

Wikimedia Commons

One book editor I talked to fondly reminisced about the first book she was assigned to work on, back in the late 1990s. It had gone under contract in 1972.

I once asked a talented and fairly famous colleague how he managed to regularly produce such highly regarded 8,000 word features.

“Well,” he said, “first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”

Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writing habit of putting off writing as long as possible.)

At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion.

Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project.

It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.

This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent.

Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are.

As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good.

Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package.

By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.

The Fear of Turning In Nothing

Most writers manage to get by because, as the deadline creeps closer, their fears of turning in nothing eventually surpasses their fears of turning in something terrible.

But I’ve watched a surprising number of young journalists wreck, or nearly wreck, their careers by simply failing to hand in articles. These are all college graduates who can write in complete sentences, so it is not that they are lazy incompetents. Rather, they seem to be paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good.

“Exactly!” said Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, when I floated this theory by her. One of the best-known experts in the psychology of motivation, Dweck has spent her career studying failure, and how people react to it.

As you might expect, failure isn’t all that popular an activity. And yet, as she discovered through her research, not everyone reacts to it by breaking out in hives. While many of the people she studied hated tasks that they didn’t do well, some people thrived under the challenge. They positively relished things they weren’t very good at—for precisely the reason that they should have: when they were failing, they were learning.

Dweck puzzled over what it was that made these people so different from their peers. It hit her one day as she was sitting in her office (then at Columbia), chewing over the results of the latest experiment with one of her graduate students: the people who dislike challenges think that talent is a fixed thing that you’re either born with or not. The people who relish them think that it’s something you can nourish by doing stuff you’re not good at.

There was this eureka moment,” says Dweck.

She now identifies the former group as people with a “fixed mind-set,” while the latter group has a “growth mind-set.”

Whether you are more fixed or more of a grower helps determine how you react to anything that tests your intellectual abilities.

For growth people, challenges are an opportunity to deepen their talents, but for “fixed” people, they are just a dipstick that measures how high your ability level is.

Finding out that you’re not as good as you thought is not an opportunity to improve; it’s a signal that you should maybe look into a less demanding career, like mopping floors.

This fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you “really” are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome. A shocking number of successful people (particularly women), believe that they haven’t really earned their spots, and are at risk of being unmasked as frauds at any moment.

Many people deliberately seek out easy tests where they can shine, rather than tackling harder material that isn’t as comfortable.

If they’re forced into a challenge they don’t feel prepared for, they may even engage in what psychologists call “self-handicapping” behaviors: deliberately doing things that will hamper their performance in order to give themselves an excuse for not doing well.

Self-handicapping can be fairly spectacular: in one study, men deliberately chose performance-inhibiting drugs when facing a task they didn’t expect to do well on.

“Instead of studying,” writes the psychologist Edward Hirt, “a student goes to a movie the night before an exam. If he performs poorly, he can attribute his failure to a lack of studying rather than to a lack of ability or intelligence. On the other hand, if he does well on the exam, he may conclude that he has exceptional ability, because he was able to perform well without studying.”

Writers who don’t produce copy—or leave it so long that they couldn’t possibly produce something good—are giving themselves the perfect excuse for not succeeding.

“Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” For people with an extremely fixed mind-set, that tipping point quite often never happens. They fear nothing so much as finding out that they never had what it takes.

“The kids who race ahead in the readers without much supervision get praised for being smart,” says Dweck. “What are they learning? They’re learning that being smart is not about overcoming tough challenges. It’s about finding work easyWhen they get to college or graduate school and it starts being hard, they don’t necessarily know how to deal with that.”

Embracing Hard Work

Our educational system is almost designed to foster a fixed mind-set. Think about how a typical English class works: You read a “great work” by a famous author, discussing what the messages are, and how the author uses language, structure, and imagery to convey them.

You memorize particularly pithy quotes to be regurgitated on the exam, and perhaps later on second dates.

Students are rarely encouraged to peek at early drafts of those works. All they see is the final product, lovingly polished by both writer and editor to a very high shine. When the teacher asks “What is the author saying here?” no one ever suggests that the answer might be “He didn’t quite know” or “That sentence was part of a key scene in an earlier draft, and he forgot to take it out in revision.”

Or consider a science survey class. It consists almost entirely of the theories that turned out to be right—not the folks who believed in the mythical “N-rays,” declared that human beings had forty-eight chromosomes, or saw imaginary canals on Mars.

When we do read about falsified scientific theories of the past—Lamarckian evolution, phrenology, reproduction by “spontaneous generation”—the people who believed in them frequently come across as ludicrous yokels, even though many of them were distinguished scientists who made real contributions to their fields.

“You never see the mistakes, or the struggle,” says Dweck. No wonder students get the idea that being a good writer is defined by not writing bad stuff.

Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point.

“The reason we struggle with “insecurity,” says Pastor Steven Furtick, “is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

About six years ago, commentators started noticing a strange pattern of behavior among the young millennial who were pouring out of college. Eventually, the writer Ron Alsop would dub them the Trophy Kids. Despite the sound of it, this has nothing to do with “trophy wives.” Rather, it has to do with the way these kids were raised.

This new generation was brought up to believe that there should be no winners and no losers, no scrubs or MVPs. Everyone, no matter how ineptly they perform, gets a trophy.

As these kids have moved into the workforce, managers complain that new graduates expect the workplace to replicate the cosy, well-structured environment of school. They demand concrete, well-described tasks and constant feedback, as if they were still trying to figure out what was going to be on the exam.

“It’s very hard to give them negative feedback without crushing their egos,” one employer told Bruce Tulgan, the author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy. “They walk in thinking they know more than they know.”

When I started asking around about this phenomenon, I was a bit skeptical. After all, us old geezers have been grousing about those young whippersnappers for centuries.

But whenever I brought the subject up, I got a torrent of complaints, including from people who  have been managing new hires for decades. They were able to compare them with previous classes, not just with some mental image of how great we all were at their age. And they insisted that something really has changed—something that’s not limited to the super-coddled children of the elite.

“I’ll hire someone who’s 27, and he’s fine,” says Todd, who manages a car rental operation in the Midwest. “But if I hire someone who’s twenty-three or twenty-four, they need everything spelled out for them, they want me to hover over their shoulder. It’s like somewhere in those three or four years, someone flipped a switch.”

They are probably harder working and more conscientious than my generation.  But many seem intensely uncomfortable with the comparatively unstructured world of work.  No wonder so many elite students go into finance and consulting—jobs that surround them with other elite grads, with well-structured reviews and advancement.

Today’s new graduates may be better credentialed than previous generations, and are often very hardworking, but only when given very explicit direction. And they seem to demand constant praise.

Is it any wonder, with so many adults hovering so closely over every aspect of their lives? Frantic parents of a certain socioeconomic level now give their kids the kind of intensive early grooming that used to be reserved for princelings or little Dalai Lamas.

All this “help” can be actively harmful. These days, I’m told, private schools in New York are (quietly, tactfully) trying to combat a minor epidemic of expensive tutors who do the kids’ work for them, something that would have been nearly unthinkable when I went through the system 20 years ago.

Our parents were in league with the teachers, not us. But these days, fewer seem willing to risk letting young Silas or Gertrude fail out of the Ivy League.

Thanks to decades of expansion, there are still enough spaces for basically every student who wants to go to college. But there’s a catch: Most of those new spaces were created at less selective schools. Two-thirds of Americans now attend a college that, for all intents and purposes, admits anyone who applies. Spots at the elite schools—the top 10 percent—have barely kept up with population growth.

Meanwhile demand for those slots has grown much faster, because as the economy has gotten more competitive, parents are looking for a guarantee that their children will be successful. A degree from an elite school is the closest thing they can think of.

So we get Whiffle Parenting: constant supervision to ensure that a kid can’t knock themselves off the ladder that is thought to lead, almost automatically, through a selective college and into the good life.

It’s an entirely rational reaction to an educational system in which the stakes are always rising, and any small misstep can knock you out of the race. But is this really good parenting?

A golden credential is no guarantee of success, and in the process of trying to secure one for their kids, parents are depriving them of what they really need: the ability to learn from their mistakes, to be knocked down and to pick themselves up—the ability, in other words, to fail gracefully.

That is probably the most important lesson our kids will learn at school, and instead many are being taught the opposite.

This post is adapted from Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.




January 2023

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