I was reading David Shenk's The Genius in All of Us and was blown away by this photo:
Otto and Ewald are identical (monozygotic) twins. That means they were born from twin embyos derived from the same fertilized egg. They share the same DNA.
If you look closely you can see some very subtle differences.
Otto trained as a long distance-runner, and Ewald for strength events. Together, they trained for two very different athletic advantages.
Some would have us believe that we don't become. We are.
And while it would be ridiculous to suggest that anyone can literally do or be anything they want to, it is equally as foolish to see our abilities as set in genetic stone. David Shenk explains:
But the whole concept of genetic giftedness turns out to be wildly off the mark - tragically kept afloat for decades by a cascade of misunderstandings and misleading metaphors. In recent years, a mountain of scientific evidence has emerged that overwhelmingly suggests a completely different paradigm: not talent scarcity, but latent talent abundance. In this conception, human talent and intelligence are not permanently in short supply like fossil fuel, but potentially plentiful like wind power. The problem isn't our inadequate genetic assets, but our inability, so far, to tap into what we already have...So where is this hidden talent?
How do we unlock this long lost source of success?
In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck points towards our minds:
Physical endowment is not like intellectual endowment. It's visible. Size, build, agility are all visible. Practice and training are also visible, and they produce visible results. You would think that this would dispel the myth of the natural. You could see Mugsy Bogues at five foot three playing NBA basketball, and Doug Flutie, the small quarterback who has played for the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. You could see Pete Gray, the one-armed baseball player who made it to the major leagues. Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, who was completely lacking in grace. Glenn Cunningham, the great runner, who had badly burned and damaged legs. Larry Bird and his lack of swiftness. You can see the small or graceless or even "disabled" ones who make it, and the god-like specimens who don't. Shouldn't this tell people something?Rather than seeing ourselves as prisoners of our genetics, it would be far more wise for us to realize that we can't even begin to quantify our unactualized genetic potential.
David Shenk summarizes this all nicely:
Our abilities are not set in genetic stone. They are soft and sculptable, far into adulthood. With humility, with hope, and with extraordinary determination, greatness is something to which any kid - of any age - can inspire.