Books often celebrate being “the best” at whatever one does much more adequately than does life itself. Whether exhibited through sports or in celebration of creative expression, unique talents or gifts of individual achievement, people are fulfilled by the recognition they receive from others and (perhaps more importantly) from the satisfaction they derive from their own successes and accomplishments. Great books, however, rarely provide pure entertainment or escapism – they teach lessons through their insights and illustrations by providing examples of successful decisions (and the results of those choices) and the ramifications of poor decisions or inappropriate actions. We should pay attention to the lessons stories teach us as we chart a path – determine the directions we wish to take – as we travel through our everyday lives.
Identifying “naturals” can be a difficult task without providing an innovative environment that fosters (and rewards) an individual’s contributions through personalized (and meaningful) rewards. Without the freedom to expand their horizon, “naturals” often become bored (due to their ability to accomplish things easily), leaving them time to disrupt or disturb others. When you find a “natural,” celebrate your discovery by providing new and ongoing challenges that will allow his or her efforts to contribute to accomplishing things that will add to the “greater good.” If you ARE a natural, recognize that others may not think like you, experience life as you do, nor approach issues in the same manner – and that it is OK they are different. Remember that the broad parameters and boundaries you prefer might make tasks that are simple for you seem much more difficult for others who may have to remain focused on the “ends” if they are to establish the “means” to achieve results.
While a “black and white” person like Howard may be difficult to work with at times (because of an unwavering quest to accomplish the goal without compromise or negotiation), one will ALWAYS know where they stand and what they might come to expect from him or her. In dealing with such a personality, be sure to understand the underlying “why” beneath their actions rather than simply taking actions at face value. We often find ourselves accomplishing great things that were not previously been deemed possible when we embrace creativity and exhibit individuality. We must allow the unique – the unproven – to have a place in our lives if we are to achieve greatness.
Another book written by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, is one of my favorite books about individual accomplishment prevailing at the expense of societal “good” gone too far. For those unable or unwilling to read a book, pick up the movies (both The Fountainhead and two parts of Atlas Shrugged are available). Either book would make a “great read” as you seek to become all that you can be! Join The Natural as he finds success, share Roark’s quest for perfection or allow John Galt to guide you through Rand’s eerie prognostication of our times. You will be transformed as the words jump from the pages to become indelibly imprinted upon your mind.
Take the time to read a good book about creativity, individuality or accomplishment in the face of great odds or unparalleled objections. Given the choice between breaking a rule and breaking the spirit, I would choose to obliterate the rule rather than (even marginally) inhibit the spirit. What about you?