Are Successful People Born Or Made?

Genetics definitely play a factor in our personality, intelligence and ability, but it is not the determining factor as many scientists, psychologists, and entrepreneurs like to believe it is.

The problem with believing that your intelligence, happiness and talent is a result of your genetics is because this leaves you to think that you can’t do anything about it.

If, for example, you think that your academic intelligence is largely based on your genes, then you will quit at the first sign of trouble with any academic subject.

Instead of persevering and deciding to put in more effort into studying, you’ll just say, “I’m not good at this subject,” and give up.

Angela Duckworth, who is known for her study on the psychological trait known as grit, did a study on this where she found that having the ability to persevere when school got tough was an extremely important factor in Ivy League undergraduate performance.

This means that if you believe that you only have a fixed amount of intelligence, academic ability and self-control then this belief will always undermine your ability to persist and keep going when times get challenging.

This is known as “the curse of genetic fatalism.”

In the book “The Winner Effect,” neuroscientist Ian Robertson says,

“The curse of genetic fatalism undermines grit, and grit is one of the most important ingredients in life – not just in academic achievement, but in work, relationships and coping with stress and illness.”

Genetic fatalism hinders us, but in many cases of life, it is not scientifically justified as an excuse.

Anders Ericsson, a professor at Florida State University, has said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something.

Yes, some people have natural inherent talent and environmental advantages that push them towards success, but without the ability to persevere and practice consistently, you will never master anything.

People such as Jordon, Musk, Mozart, Picasso and Einstein were not great because they were naturally great at birth, they were great because they persevered and practiced more than any other individual.

Many people will self-handicap themselves by thinking that their intelligence, ability and happiness are things largely outside their control, but if we believe that such things are outside of our control, then for sure we’ll never be able to control them.

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23 thoughts on “Are Successful People Born Or Made?

  1. I went to a talk at my daughters kindy, about building maths skills, and the biggest point i took away was not talking about urself as bad at maths or bad at english, as it immediately shuts doors/as you said reduces motivation to try

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    1. I completely agree with that. In the book “the winner effect: the neuroscience of success and failure,” Ian Robertson says, “whatever we do, we should not praise a child for being ‘bright’, but rather for their effort, perseverance or ingenuity, otherwise we risk imposing the curse of genetic fatalism on them. Rather than praise your child for being bright, you should definitely praise them for having ‘grit.'”

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  2. I believe in nature and nurture, rather than pitting one N against the other.

    My paternal side of the family is pretty brilliant all around, and I think that’s why I breezed through school like it was nothing.

    However, my mom nurtured the love of education in me. I was home schooled by her and “regular schooled” for the usual hours. I started school illegally (too young to be legally registered but sat in class) at 2 and a half. By 16 I was a college student.

    I think both contributed to my academic career and my intelligence overall.

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    1. We’ve evolved genetically in order to learn from the environment, so wise geneticists will make the case for nature with nurture rather than for nature versus nurture. 16?????? That’s impressive

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      1. That’s true, although we could make the case that it’s actually learning from the environment that created the evolution.

        Yup, at 16. My straight bestie was 15 when she started. She’s three months older than me.

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      2. I did 2 years of kindergarten, 6 of primary (your elementary), and 5 of high school (we don’t have junior high/middle school). I should have done an extra year in elementary but took the state exams early. I should have also not been in 1st grade when I was. I should have been in 2nd year of kindergarten, but the teachers recommended I skip and I got sent to prep-school in the middle of the school year.

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      3. It isn’t legal to start at 2 and a half. My mom just asked the school if I could go because I really wanted to.

        I wore the uniform and all. No one knew. But I quickly became top of the class. When they moved me to K2 I was only just legally registered for K1. By the time I was legally in K2, I was way ahead of my class, so I skipped to grade 1.

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      4. Yup. I loved when my mom read to me and I couldn’t figure out how she turned squiggles into sounds. I thought it was magic, and then she told me she learned at school.

        So I thought I would go to school and a magician would whooosh me with his magic wand a few times and I’d learn to read. I was really disappointed when that wasn’t how it was, but I stuck it out. I had already asked to go. I was literate before I turned 3.

        I’m no genius though. Just really one precocious child and a determined adult.

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      5. Kudos to you. I could never get into reading nonfiction outside of school. Drives me nuts.

        I much prefer to live in my own little world. This is, after all, the woman who played The Sims all through school lol.

        I majored in HRM. Thinking of getting a PR certification since that’s pretty much what I do on a smaller scale. Originally though I had wanted to study psychology. Even got into the program but went to another school.

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      6. what! I would’ve guessed you read a lot. ever since I read the average CEO reads one book a week, I’ve been trying to read just as much. This stat makes sense to me when paralleled with warren buffet who always says, “the more you learn, the more you’ll earn, the more rewards you’ll get in life.” What made you change your major from psychology to HRM?

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      7. I read a lot of nonfiction articles and fictional books. Reading a lot doesn’t always mean reading textbook type materials. I spent 6 years in college and a year getting a CPP. I’ve done enough of that lol.

        I am from and went to school in Jamaica. Jamaicans don’t see psychologists. They roll a blunt or visit the rum bar. So I decided to do business instead. I may do my masters in psychology here (I now live in the US) when my husband gets out of school.

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      8. I think that’s one thing wrong with education is that it turns so many people off from reading. the fact that the average college grad will only read 3 book after college is disappointing. Jamaica? that sounds so cool, would love to visit one day:) let me know if you ever decide to get your masters

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      9. It didn’t turn me off from reading. I just prefer to read about different things from you. My entire profession currently revolves around words – both reading and writing. Articles and fiction are no less valid reading materials than textbook types. They just serve different purposes. 🙂

        Jamaica is a great place to visit. Terrible place to live, especially for the LGBT community.

        We have a 3 year wait for Michael to finish up before I do my masters. I don’t think it’s economically wise for us both to be in school, especially when I’m only going for the fun of it.

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      10. I guess it just matters what your purpose for reading is then:) oh wow, I wouldn’t have guessed that about Jamaica:/ and it’s probably not, what’s your husband majoring in?

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