The moment we believe success is determined by an ingrained level of ability, as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.
If you tell a kid that she's a winner, which a lot of parents do, then she believes that her winning is because of something ingrained in her.
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The last century added 30 years of opportunity to our lives, conferring what's been called a second middle age.
Especially in light of our extended life span, it's worth confronting the very notion of late blooming to ask: late for what?
"We know that the genes are partly responsible for brain organization, but we also know that the brain is not completely organized until well into adulthood." Think of genes as players in an orchestra, with different sections responsible for different traits.
Not only do all the individual players have to be in sync, but so do the sections.
Perhaps the most basic component of success is ability; it's necessary, but not by itself sufficient.
And there's no question that ability—often called "gifts" and "talents"—has some basis in the brain.
The fluid in my ears kept me zipped up in a cloud, unable to process words. Not to be confused with the late-recognized bloomer, such as photographer André Kertész, who, little noticed by the world for his unusual compositions, finally gained public acclaim in his 80s.
My performance on that IQ test when I was 10 is a reflection of my early learning difficulties." I sat back in my chair trying to calm myself, then continued to explain how I had finally caught up to the rest of the kids and, as my grades now clearly showed, I wasn't the least bit challenged in the "slow" track at school. No less important is the repeat bloomer, such as Ian Fleming, who, after succeeding as a journalist, banker, and stockbroker, went on to create James Bond when he was 45. Late bloomers are actually plentiful, and each has his or her own story and distinctive pathway.
"This is you," the elderly school psychologist said as he pushed up his horn-rimmed glasses and pointed to the left side of what looked like the outline of a camel's hump. That was merely the first such experience that led me to realize that we live in a society with peculiar expectations about the time course of success.