Obviously, it was the right decision for Bezos but it’s not a great suggestion for everybody else. I’m a lot less gifted than many of the people I went to school with. I’m actually not gifted at all. My IQ is very run-of-the-mill. Everything takes me a very long time. In languages in particular, I’m just not naturally endowed. What other people pick up with ease, I have to plough through with endless flashcards and months of rote memorization. I have a terrible memory. Sometimes, I struggle for months to articulate an idea, and people go, “erm, that’s obvious.” Well, obvious to you maybe but I had to take a lot of time to figure it out.
In the only language class I ever took in Spanish, I was one of the slowest people to get things. Watching others just effortlessly get it made it clear that I was not made for it. But of those 46 people who took the class with me, who made a career for themselves in Hispanic Studies? Who publishes the work that a new generation of students is assigned to read? Only me.
The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes to me that natural gifts aren’t that important in intellectual pursuits. It’s all about the dogged perseverance of the not-so-brilliant.
Stalin, for example, was despised as a pedestrian, plodding mind by the brilliant revolutionaries like Trotsky or Bukharin. But who ended up winning and killed them all? Not that Stalin is a huge role model but
Forget being gifted and work on your psychological health. That’s a real gift that will carry you everywhere you need to go.