Abilities that come naturally to some are impossible challenges to others.  For the gifted individual, appreciating the difficulty people experience in achieving success in these areas, can prove frustrating.

Haven recently read a number of biographies, memoirs and self-help books; it appears that the consistent message is “If you do what I did, then you’ll be who I am”.

The problem with unique individuals is that they don’t always appreciate how unique they are.

What comes easy to some people is impossible for others.  

That being said, reading a multitude of books and articles that focus on techniques, mindsets and skills for success are not without value. It’s just that each reading needs a an underlying subtext.

Stories of success need to be reframed. Instead of “how to be successful”, they should be understood to be “how the author became successful”. What worked for the author may not work for you. Some people need a regimented, disciplined program in order to achieve, whereas others need a more flexible model. Some people can cope on 4 hours sleep and others cannot. Every story has what to teach, but appreciate that all they can offer is a model of what worked for them.

The second caveat is that people usually gloss over important aspects of their lives when they highlight their achievements. Many athletes leave behind a trail, littered with broken relationships and interpersonal dysfunction, on their path to the gold medal. We seldom hear of the successful family life of our most successful leaders; who were Moses’ children, or Churchill’s or Gandhi’s? Success in one area of life not only doesn’t mean success in other areas- at times it can be the catalyst of their failures. Success in life is multi-dimensional; there’s personal, family, professional and communal considerations that all equate to a well-lived life.

Narratives of success usually present a 1-dimensional perspective; how to achieve in one area of life. A life of fulfilment, however, covers every dimension.

With these perspectives, you can, and should, learn from everyone.

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