Chapter 18 and Genes

Chapter 18 discusses genes and predisposition. Clear mentions that while Michael Phelps is a gold medal winning swimmer, he wouldn't have been able to even compete in the Olympics if he chose a different sport like running, where his tall frame and shorter legs (for his height) would have put him at a clear disadvantage.

When I was a baby, people remarked on my long fingers and ability to point my toes to an abnormal degree. My parents heard things like "She'll be a piano player, with those long fingers!" or "She'll be a ballerina, with those toes!" As I grew into a toddler, I was very interested in sound and music, but very clumsy and often tripped or fell. My parents decided to enroll me in piano lessons when I was 5. (Sadly, I wasn't mature or patient enough, so I had enough of piano lessons only after two weeks.) Smart idea, playing to my strengths. (They also enrolled me in gymnastics briefly to help with my balance issues.)

My environment and genes were a good match with the nudge to get into music. My parents bought me a keyboard. I lived next door to my grandparents; they had a piano and grandma was the pianist for their church. After years of practice in band (played flute and trumpet as well) I was writing mixed ensemble pieces and trumpet or flute and piano duets for the youth in my church, and ended up writing a bunch of lyrics and music in college, and wrote an album with my friend and guitar player, Criss.

I would never have flourished like I did had my parents decided, "Well, she can point her toes really well, so we will enroll her in ballerina and other dance classes, despite the fact that she is tripping and falling. She'll eventually be good." Granted, I would have gotten better than I was, but I would have hated every minute of it and wouldn't have been as good as the average child, and nowhere near a child who had a genetic predisposition to it.

It's important to find skills that you 1) are genetically predisposed to have an advantage, and 2) enjoy doing. Clear mentioned a set of questions to answer to help figure out where to put your effort and time:

What feels like fun to me, but work for others?
What makes me lose track of time?
Where to I get greater returns than the average person?
What comes naturally to me?


Chapter 18 Chapter Summary:


  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.
  • Pick the right habit and progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle.
  • Genes cannot be easily changed, which means they provide a powerful advantage in favorable circumstances and a serious disadvantage in unfavorable circumstances.
  • Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities. Choose the habits that best suit you.
  • Play a game that favors your strengths. If you can't find a game that favors you, create one.
  • Genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on.


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