In NLP, we believe that excellence has a structure and therefore, if you want to be excellent, you have to find a role model who you consider as excellent and model him or her. Does that mean that we could then compose like Mozart or invent like Edison or think like Einstein?
Is talent born or bred, an in-built capability or can it be taught and nurtured?
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, he shared the stories of two individuals who were exceptional and talented and yet achieved very different outcomes.
Chris Langan was considered a genius from a very early age – he started speaking at six months old and taught himself to read by age three! He had an IQ of 195 when the average person’s IQ is 100 and a genius is 130+. By all accounts, he is a genius, and some considered him to be the smartest man in the world.
Today, Chris is a college dropout. He grew up in poverty, enrolled into Reed College and Montana State University but dropped out due to financial and transportation problems and also from the belief that he could teach his professors more than they could teach him. He had a string of jobs including construction worker, farmhand, firefighter and bouncer and while carrying out these labour-intensive jobs, he would go home and run equations in his head.
In spite of not completing college, Langan developed his own “theory of the relationship between mind and reality” which he calls the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe. He lives and operates a horse ranch with his wife.
Susan Boyle is famous. This Scottish ex-church volunteer rose to fame when she appeared on “Britain Got Talent” in 2009. The video of her audition went viral on YouTube, mainly because her appearance did not match the voice, and even took Simon Cowell by surprise. This Plain Jane standing on the stage was a complete mismatch to the mezzo soprano voice that emanated from her when the music started. Though she did not win, her debut album topped the charts in the US and UK and she has performed before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
An overnight success? Susan had entered talent contests previously but usually written off and mocked due to her looks. But she persevered, believed in herself and in the end, all she needed was the chance.
What we learn from this is that we have talent within us, the potential to excel and achieve. But we must have:
1) Self Belief – know who you are and believe that you have that potential and pursue your dream
2) Apply your talent – Chris Langan is obviously brilliant but could not apply his talent and knowledge as academia did not take him seriously without the proper credentials.
3) Growth – Susan Boyle took singing lessons and entered singing competitions to develop and grow her skills. By dropping out of college and university, Chris deprived himself of being in an environment that would nurture and help him stimulate his thinking.
4) Opportunity – Susan Boyle found the right platform to showcase her talent which led to her success. We wonder what could have been accomplished had Chris Langan found his stage.
Find your passion, your talent, your potential. When you do, nurture it, unleash it and let it grow. Like the Pencil (see earlier blog), we are all made to do great things. We need to believe in ourselves, practice and allow others to guide us, only then will we be able to achieve. Be Excellent!
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