Monday, July 07, 2008

Willingness to grow

When Janis Heaphy was publisher of the Sacramento Bee and my boss, she gave me an article by Peter Drucker called "Managing Oneself." Though much of the insight later seemed like simple common sense (doesn't it usually?), at the time it opened my eyes to a couple of important concepts.

(To me, the big take-away from that article was just this: try to arrange your responsibilities so that you do most what you do best. You're better off amplifying your strengths than improving your weaknesses, all things being equal.)

The basic premise in this article from the New York Times feels the same: fairly self-evident, really, but likewise profound.

Here's a taste:

“Society is obsessed with the idea of talent and genius and people who are ‘naturals’ with innate ability,” says Ms. Dweck, who is known for research that crosses the boundaries of personal, social and developmental psychology.

“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

In this case, nurture wins out over nature just about every time.

1 comment:

  1. Tying to look smart, or short-circuited by an oversimplified idea of "talent"? We think of talent as a "gift" If you've got it, no need to work baby, just send a thank-you card to the Almighty.

    Conversely, if you have no gift, why work? You'll never catch up to those with the big T, and your best hope is mediocrity. No point in work, baby, just send a thanks-for-nothing card addressed to "Occupant" in care of Heaven.

    I've worked with enough people to know that talent does exist. But it's a spectrum.If you're at the low end, work will bring your level up and make your life richer. If you're at the upper end, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to make it flower. And that means work.

    The ferociously gifted caricaturist Philip Burke is glad to share his secret, [probably because he knows few will heed his advice. "Draw ten times more than anyone you know."