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Thread: Talent and Doubt

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    Default Talent and Doubt

    How do you deal with doubting your own talents. Do you just "know" what you're good at? Do you ever question yourself after seeing others proclaiming their talents and think "maybe i'm just as misguided as them?". Do you easily commit to one of your talents to develop and nurter it or are you wondering wether or not it's the right one? Do you develop everything simultaniously or do you try to get to the 10000 hours norm with just one of them? Do you wonder how your life would have been if you'd started practising (or continued practising) from a young age? do you feel like you're too old to really get to excellence in any field or are you confident of where you're going?

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    The 10000 hour rule only works for people that can be trained for a particular task. Some tasks are simply impossible for individuals due to the way they think or their physicial limitations, especially for complex mental or physical tasks which demand specific traits. However it's difficult to identify what individual limitations are. It's important to identify the tasks which one has a more exclusive capability for, task that can be accomplished by anyone well trained is likely to be automated or unprofitable.

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    fake it till you make it

    people underestimate the therapeutic value of self-conscious dogmatism.

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    Thank you for your reply, well thought out and helpfull!

    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    I've heard different quotes saying that generally the worst talent scout someone has is themselves: people often don't realize their own abilities, and everyone suffers to a degree of self-doubt. It's part of what makes us human, and understanding ourselves within a group, and differentiates us with self-identity.

    That said, some things I've learned about life/skills/talents, is that usually when people are young, ie. teenage years/college age/throughout their twenties, they should be trying many different things, to find what they don't like and are somewhat bad at and find things they do like and are somewhat good at.
    Yes, finding out what you're good at seems hard to do with just introspection. As you say, experimenting at a young age can help identify some areas of proficiency and interest. I myself have found that self-perception also plays a huge role, prior to a year ago i was convinced I sucked at all physical stuff (even though i was a rather acrobatic child). Rediscovering that i can do physical movement stuff like martial arts and dancing was huge! Still don't think it's a "talent" of mine, but i'm past the "i'm physically intellented" part. In a way, self immage like "intuitive rather than sensing" although without the socionics words to describe it, limited the things i tried and thus the things i'd explore.

    Most skills/occupations - I know you just said 'talent', so certainly this could apply to hobbies as well, ie. musical instrument, hula hooping, finger-snapping, etc. - can be drastically improved and mastered over time. "If you practice something for an hour every day, in 5 years you'll be a master at it."

    Since as time goes on, people practicing any skill consistently will generally see their talent rise, the more important question in my opinion is do they have the motivation to consistently practice it? The question isn't whether or not you can acquire the talent. The question is whether you can acquire your own motivation to acquire the talent. That's where certain quotes like 'find something you love' and 'do something that makes you happy' come in - because the people who are able to be consistent over 10, 20+ years, etc., generally find success and happiness doing something they like every single day.
    Yes, i meant talent rather broad, occupations, liveskills, hobbies. I generally don't make those distinctions and just try to "further" things that are bringing value to me and others around me. I'd practise making people laugh for instance and massaging with as much passion as i'd display to subjects i liked in school.

    Motivation is a huge part. For me i'm generally well motivated to persue something as long as the "peak moments" are close together while motivation trails off as soon as the platuas get longer. Practising something every day for an extended period of time seems terrifying, but that's also due to the kind of longing for certainess about the skill, for instance, if i spend much time on something i want to be sure that it'll be usefull and that i'll be able to excell in it. Kind of defeatist now i think about it..

    One thing I've learned is not to compare yourself to other people, since this generally leads to disappointment. Everyone is at a different spot in their journey - quite often I'll find people who are new at doing something, within their first 1-2 years, comparing themselves to people who have been doing something for 5+ years, saying they'll never have the talent to do that. Don't say that. It's just not true. You simply don't know what that person looked like when they first started. In my experience, people's improvement over time is relatively hard to see for them. Another quote comes to mind: 'The only reason people quit is because they look at far they have to go, not at how far they've come.'
    ahhh yeah comparing does work against motivation and confidence. I agree totally. The only exception would be if you have a hero who you want to immulate, that seems to work for some people.

    I find our brains can only relearn things so fast, and we are limited by the time to invest in new skills. We must productively choose what talents directly we want to progress in, and what areas we don't mind not practicing and falling behind in talent. That said, I believe people can generally learn at least 2-3 things at once, if they manage their time effectively, depending on the degree of difficulty of those things.
    sounds reasonable. i usually go for complete lifestyle changes and try too many things at ones OR one thing too fanatic. I guess i'm scared to not develop my talents or to not develop all of them or to not develop one as far as i could. Thanks that was clarifying, I should just accept that i'm not going to develop all of them.

    It comes to mind, yes, I wouldn't say I regret it though. I try to think about the future. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting old, if nothing in my life has changed. I would postulate that generally the level of regret people experience is directly proportional to the lack of productivity they feel they've had in their lives. If you're not progressing, you feel stuck and start feeling guilt. If you are progressing, you feel happier and more confident about everything in your life.
    Very very insightfull and to the point. That's basically what was behind my question, I'm kinda not progressing at all right now, not trying to either and it sucks. I should get myself back on track with your suggestions in mind

    Again, thank you very much William!

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    Quote Originally Posted by point View Post
    The 10000 hour rule only works for people that can be trained for a particular task. Some tasks are simply impossible for individuals due to the way they think or their physicial limitations, especially for complex mental or physical tasks which demand specific traits. However it's difficult to identify what individual limitations are. It's important to identify the tasks which one has a more exclusive capability for, task that can be accomplished by anyone well trained is likely to be automated or unprofitable.
    Yeah, it really IS hard to identify area's of strength (esp if they're unactualized yet). I'm always afraid that I mislead myself by assuming i have talent. So i rather believe those who give negative feedback rather than the people who give positive feedback (the positive ones are just being "nice"). meh....


    And yes, some skills are really likely to be automated, lately i found an article about a glove that trains your fine motorskills for example for piano playing. If that really works, professional pianoplayers will go down in value since the long hours of practise side can be skipped an more people will be able to learn it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by lecter View Post
    fake it till you make it

    people underestimate the therapeutic value of self-conscious dogmatism.
    Hah, last time i heard that was in the context of PUA, but yeah, faking it will get you a long way into learning something. At least it'll allow you to get to places where you can learn for real and talk to people who know their stuff. I think faking it is basically there in any context where you're yet unskilled as you need to at least try to connect to the context you want to learn in.

    I'm extremely bad at dogmatism though :S

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    How do you deal with doubting your own talents. Do you just "know" what you're good at? Do you ever question yourself after seeing others proclaiming their talents and think "maybe i'm just as misguided as them?". Do you easily commit to one of your talents to develop and nurter it or are you wondering wether or not it's the right one? Do you develop everything simultaniously or do you try to get to the 10000 hours norm with just one of them? Do you wonder how your life would have been if you'd started practising (or continued practising) from a young age? do you feel like you're too old to really get to excellence in any field or are you confident of where you're going?
    I've always been a niche person rather than a jack of all trades. What I trained myself for since I was a teenager (broadly speaking) is what I still do. This gives me confidence lol.
    Your questions are actually challenging. I don't feel like I'd like to do something else, it's a matter of calling for me (so, yeah, you could say it was clear very early what I was good at and "what I was made for"). I've never regretted stuff and neither have I desired to throw everything in the air and start anew. Oh so boring. But I do have doubts - not in the sense of what I can do or what I know. It's rather the immense amount of extra stuff you can read and discover in a field like mine and it can feel like you'd need a life to go through everything that would be relevant and interesting and make sure you produce smth. really worthwhile at the same time. So if you ask me, I've only learned to do 2-3 totally new things for about 4 years ... one is a new language; the other is smth I started as extra work, namely writing non-research stuff, small e-books ... call it freelance writing. There's people who need others who have some writing skills and they give you topics that sell. This is something I only do for the money. So ...I hope it answers your Q . I think many people are different through ...maybe they like challenging themselves and start practicing new things more. Maybe they have lower tolerance for what's already known territory. I almost never get bored with what I do (ok, it would also be a bit hard ...it's not really routine stuff that you repeat every day). But I don't have many centrifugal urges anyway ...
    Last edited by Amber; 07-24-2014 at 11:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    I've always been a niche person rather than a jack of all trades. What I trained myself since I was a teenager for (broadly speaking) is what I still do. This gives me confidence lol.
    Your questions are actually challenging. I don't feel like I'd like to do something else, it's a matter of calling for me (so, yeah, you could say it was clear very early what I was good at and "what I was made for"). I've never regretted stuff and neither have I desired to throw everything in the air and start anew. Oh so boring. But I do have doubts - not in the sense of what I can do or what I know. It's rather the immense amount of extra stuff you can read and discover in a field like mine and it can feel like you'd need a life to go through everything that would be relevant and interesting and make sure you produce smth. really worthwhile at the same time. So if you ask me, I've only learned to do 2-3 totally new things for about 4 years ... one is a new language; the other is smth I started as extra work, namely writing non-research stuff, small e-books ... call it freelance writing. There's people who need others who have some writing skills and they give you topics that sell. This is something I only do for the money. So ...I hope it answers your Q . I think many people are different through ...maybe they like challenging themselves and start practicing new things more. Maybe they have lower tolerance for what's already known territory. I almost never get bored with what I do (ok, it would also be a bit hard ...it's not really routine stuff that you repeat every day). But I don't have many centrifugal urges anyway ...
    yes, i think this highlights something that i was thinking about. Even if you've already found your niche there's still further specialization possible/necessary. Even if you find what you want to do with your life early in life, there's usually questions about the how, where, when, and or what subset to persue.

    So as example you're highly succesfull in an acadamic field. Still, there's choices to make in terms of specialization, research topics, methodological approaches. Do you go after a technically difficult and largely socially unknown topic? Do you go into teaching/leading projectgroups? Do you pick something that has monetary value within your field? Do you check externally for what would fit your skills or do you know/feel what's the next step? Have you ever been wrong? Would there be a point where you'd really go "ok i'm done learning in this field" or would you keep digging?

    I think these questions, and the ones i raised in the OP are things that at least for me will always plague me in a way, or accompany me. To @Solaris: do you decide easily how to further your current field/occupation/artform/calling?

    @others: how do you deal with deciding WHAT to persue?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    yes, i think this highlights something that i was thinking about. Even if you've already found your niche there's still further specialization possible/necessary. Even if you find what you want to do with your life early in life, there's usually questions about the how, where, when, and or what subset to persue.


    To @Solaris: do you decide easily how to further your current field/occupation/artform/calling?

    @others: how do you deal with deciding WHAT to persue?
    So as example you're highly succesfull in an acadamic field. Still, there's choices to make in terms of specialization, research topics, methodological approaches. Do you go after a technically difficult and largely socially unknown topic? Do you go into teaching/leading projectgroups? Do you pick something that has monetary value within your field? Do you check externally for what would fit your skills or do you know/feel what's the next step? Have you ever been wrong? Would there be a point where you'd really go "ok i'm done learning in this field" or would you keep digging?
    I think these questions, and the ones i raised in the OP are things that at least for me will always plague me in a way, or accompany me.


    Let me tell you what I've noticed most highly successful academics do: they choose the most up-to-date topics, what's hot (scientifically), an area where they can still have a say. So what's socially/culturally relevant and scientifically not yet approached or at least not exhausted. It doesn't matter how technically difficult it is. Methodology is only up to them. When you're older and more experienced it's easier, I guess. When you start working on your thesis it can happen that you discover after about one year of research that you have to shift your topic a bit, because much has already been trodden. So you have to move like a snake into what is really a niche (literally speaking - a rift) for your further research to have value. Tbh I started off very enthusiastically with what I liked most ("tada! gonna write about her ... ooops, what. yeah, she's already super-famous and has written about 10 books and has a bunch of critics on her back. mmm I have to bring something completely new about her?!"). For instance, a colleague went from the start into intersex literature (this is super new) and she chose a writer who is still working on a third book. Basically she has to deal with much less literary criticism and theory and she must be able to set the tone for everything herself. There's not much written about that author, the person has just started --but the topic (area) is extremely new and promising. Perfect for someone who's into gender issues. Well that's what older academics usually do for their further specialization and books, I suppose she was very well advised on the matter.
    Many people choose topics that fit the research interests of their supervisor/superiors. And they adapt their specialization to what they know is very new and would make a "hole" in the academic body ... aka a position that can be occupied. So it's not really only for money and position, because they keep it up-to-date and aligned with the interests of the most modern research centers etc. Let's just say that the Uni is not creating a position to fit the dude or chick, but a bit the other way round (oh, we need Ethnic Studies, many cool Unis have it already --who's into that?). So those who are after clear success have a very keen eye on the academic trends in other relevant countries as well (e.g. the US, the UK, Denmark...). What is fresh and new and not very spoken about?
    As for teaching ... if you have to do with the academia for your PhD and you don't teach, you're half dead. Especially if you want to stay in research ...otherwise, of course, if you want to use a degree to top some other kind or work you're doing, it's totally fine.
    I don't think I've heard of ppl engrossed in the academia who gave up or got bored. It's too continuous, too much work. I mean lol, I only know a dude who wrote his PhD and then said fuck off to it all when his supervisor adopted a different view at his disputation in order to bootlick a superior. He was basically saying in public that the guy he had supervised was not much worth. And the dude was too proud to take such bs and simply said he saw no point in going on and got out of the room. Exit furious Shakespearean phd candidate kicking his 4-5-year work in the air . Cool huh.

    About me: I decide easily because more often than not I go into what I know I am or would be good at and into things I identify strongly with. But I sometimes have to double-check -- for instance, my supervisor kept telling me to adjust my thesis to the public a bit more (I think he's a special kind of EIE-Ni ...but I'm not sure). He urged me to become a bit less individualistic and more attentive to external opinions. In my life in general: yes, I decide easily. It's as if something in me tells me this or that is the right thing, the right way to go (gut feeling?). I haven't experienced much indecision. But as I said ... considering several things /hobbies/talents simultaneously must be cool. Oh here's something that has happened, dunno if I should call it doubt or common sense ...I canceled stuff after weeks of preparation when I made a last-day decision that it's not for me -- other projects I was thinking to apply for. Not what I'm doing now, stuff I considered to do further. It would have meant changing the field completely -- e-g. writing about hysteria in American culture (I could only use the US, race, and gender from what I've already done ...the rest was mostly psychoanalysis). Or I wanted to apply for a group project in an institute called "Law and Emotions". I could have dealt with the way emotions were used in constructions of race and gender in legal discourses in the US. The topic was fascinating, but I felt the field would have been too new .... no more literature and cultural studies, but law and the history of emotions (psychology-sociology). I gave up 1 day before the deadline .... after I filled my room and my tables with books for one month to prepare the new project. So yeah ... there are comfort zones for everyone, I guess.
    Last edited by Amber; 07-24-2014 at 11:58 PM.

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    The general rule of thumb, backed by research, says idiots overestimate their abilities while skilled and/or otherwise competent people underestimate their abilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    How do you deal with doubting your own talents. Do you just "know" what you're good at? Do you ever question yourself after seeing others proclaiming their talents and think "maybe i'm just as misguided as them?". Do you easily commit to one of your talents to develop and nurter it or are you wondering wether or not it's the right one? Do you develop everything simultaniously or do you try to get to the 10000 hours norm with just one of them? Do you wonder how your life would have been if you'd started practising (or continued practising) from a young age? do you feel like you're too old to really get to excellence in any field or are you confident of where you're going?
    Yes to the bolded.

    the www.sociotype.com descriptions mention smt for both EIIs and IEEs about how they feel like they might be or have been wasting potential.
    I'm IEI-ni subtype... so maybe that's what makes the difference?
    Ni = faith in the development of something over a long period of time, especially if lots of work is put into it (I've never doubted that I can be great at what I love, but I always understood it takes time)
    Ne = sees many opportunities, does not know which one to stick with, spreads itself too thin and can potentially not develop any one strong talent at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist Pig View Post
    The general rule of thumb, backed by research, says idiots overestimate their abilities while skilled and/or otherwise competent people underestimate their abilities.
    Yep. Anecdotally:
    I assisted a performing-arts teacher for a time, and he told me that over the years, the talented people who came to him thought they sucked, and the crappy ones thought they were awesome. I saw the truth of it in his students. Painful to witness.

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    doubt yourself to the fullest extent possible to get the incentive to develop your talents.
    It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist Pig View Post
    The general rule of thumb, backed by research, says idiots overestimate their abilities while skilled and/or otherwise competent people underestimate their abilities.
    this has been experience proven in my experience
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    I like this. It reminds me, although Mike Tyson was feared for his amazing knockout power, and is arguably one of the best boxers all-time, he used to say he would have dreams/nightmares of his opponent beating him. He never overestimated his own abilities.

    That said, many great athletes like Ali or Larry Bird or Michael Jordan have proclaimed their abilities and dominance and are known to a degree for their trash talk, and have proven to back up that talk.

    I think doubting yourself is one way to 'get the incentive' to 'develop your talents', but there are many other ways to motivate yourself: seeking perfection in your craft, contributing to a team, etc., that could prove amazing motivators and incentives for others.
    Dopamine rush is another good way.
    It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by point View Post
    The 10000 hour rule only works for people that can be trained for a particular task. Some tasks are simply impossible for individuals due to the way they think or their physicial limitations, especially for complex mental or physical tasks which demand specific traits. However it's difficult to identify what individual limitations are. It's important to identify the tasks which one has a more exclusive capability for, task that can be accomplished by anyone well trained is likely to be automated or unprofitable.
    Yes, if you take "skill" in the context of rote learned physical activity i'm of the oppinion that the economy is getting less "skill based" in the sense that a lot of stuff gets more and more automated. Social skills seem to be highly valuable as is specialised knowledge. however, those are harder to foster and highly dependant on early socialization and or heavy specialization.

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    If it's something where a direct competition or test with other individuals exist, I check the competition's schedule and I train for that, trying to reach the top 10% or so. If I'm able to do better than a sizeable amount of people, I think "ok, the skills are there". If not, I think "Ok, I need further training". If I'm really crap, I'll "Ok, better leave this now".
    In more "fuzzy" contexts it's hard for me to obtain an objective evaluation, there's too many social "layers" connected with the word "competency" or "skill".

    (I think I have been trained in the "wrong way" by sports from this pov, scoring a goal or climbing a mountain very quickly can be easily measured from an objective pov and you can "easily" check where you need improvement, publishing a paper or getting a promotion has lots of "social" stuff that's embedded, politics, etc and I'm bad at that)
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    i find it really scary doing new things sometimes. but it's exciting too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN CHUTNEY View Post
    Yep. Anecdotally:
    I assisted a performing-arts teacher for a time, and he told me that over the years, the talented people who came to him thought they sucked, and the crappy ones thought they were awesome. I saw the truth of it in his students. Painful to witness.
    In my experience there's a threshold of self-confidence that very good/competent students have. The crappy ones usually try to rationalize their deficiencies, while the awesome ones are highly aware that there's place for improvement. I don't think I've ever had very skilled students who thought they absolutely sucked. But I agree with part of the Dunning-Kruger ... above average individuals can recognize and evaluate competence much better. They know who is also good, who is better, why this is the case etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    If it's something where a direct competition or test with other individuals exist, I check the competition's schedule and I train for that, trying to reach the top 10% or so. If I'm able to do better than a sizeable amount of people, I think "ok, the skills are there". If not, I think "Ok, I need further training". If I'm really crap, I'll "Ok, better leave this now".
    In more "fuzzy" contexts it's hard for me to obtain an objective evaluation, there's too many social "layers" connected with the word "competency" or "skill".

    (I think I have been trained in the "wrong way" by sports from this pov, scoring a goal or climbing a mountain very quickly can be easily measured from an objective pov and you can "easily" check where you need improvement, publishing a paper or getting a promotion has lots of "social" stuff that's embedded, politics, etc and I'm bad at that)
    Also wenn du summa/magna cum laude promovierst, won't you know if there's real merit in what you did and where you stand among your peers, will it be so ambiguous, that you'll think some may just have good social skills.

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    So the performance students I mentioned were brought into reality by this great teacher. It's important to find a really GOOD teacher or mentor, because a shitty one can do more harm than good.

    The teacher gave people tools to analyze and restructure current work, and to guide future work in the right direction. Rather than being told they were good or bad, the students could see in "praxis" together whether they were succeeding according to objective principles, and they experienced the principles applied to others' work in before/after fashion.

    Not rocket science. But highly effective.

    The people with talent and skill could see how good they really were. Those whose work fell short could see clearly too (except for the nutters, who often dropped out), and how to get better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN CHUTNEY View Post
    So the performance students I mentioned were brought into reality by this great teacher. It's important to find a really GOOD teacher or mentor, because a shitty one can do more harm than good.

    The teacher gave people tools to analyze and restructure current work, and to guide future work in the right direction. Rather than being told they were good or bad, the students could see in "praxis" together whether they were succeeding according to objective principles, and they experienced the principles applied to others' work in before/after fashion.

    Not rocket science. But highly effective.

    The people with talent and skill could see how good they really were. Those whose work fell short could see clearly too (except for the nutters, who often dropped out), and how to get better.
    I've worked for over 5 years as a teacher in the academia and I was telling you about my own experience with students. The rest of the years I've spent in teaching outside of it drove me to similar conclusions --- it's hard for a really competent person not to know they are good. Maybe in performing arts it's different ...?
    However, as I said, this doesn't mean the person doesn't experience at least subliminally a form of "anxiety" that others may be just as good.
    Last edited by Amber; 07-25-2014 at 01:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    So as example you're highly succesfull in an acadamic field. Still, there's choices to make in terms of specialization, research topics, methodological approaches. Do you go after a technically difficult and largely socially unknown topic? Do you go into teaching/leading projectgroups? Do you pick something that has monetary value within your field? Do you check externally for what would fit your skills or do you know/feel what's the next step? Have you ever been wrong? Would there be a point where you'd really go "ok i'm done learning in this field" or would you keep digging?
    I think these questions, and the ones i raised in the OP are things that at least for me will always plague me in a way, or accompany me.


    Let me tell you what I've noticed most highly successful academics do: they choose the most up-to-date topics, what's hot (scientifically), an area where they can still have a say. So what's socially/culturally relevant and scientifically not yet approached or at least not exhausted. It doesn't matter how technically difficult it is. Methodology is only up to them. When you're older and more experienced it's easier, I guess. When you start working on your thesis it can happen that you discover after about one year of research that you have to shift your topic a bit, because much has already been trodden. So you have to move like a snake into what is really a niche (literally speaking - a rift) for your further research to have value. Tbh I started off very enthusiastically with what I liked most ("tada! gonna write about her ... ooops, what. yeah, she's already super-famous and has written about 10 books and has a bunch of critics on her back. mmm I have to bring something completely new about her?!"). For instance, a colleague went from the start into intersex literature (this is super new) and she chose a writer who is still working on a third book. Basically she has to deal with much less literary criticism and theory and she must be able to set the tone for everything herself. There's not much written about that author, the person has just started --but the topic (area) is extremely new and promising. Perfect for someone who's into gender issues. Well that's what older academics usually do for their further specialization and books, I suppose she was very well advised on the matter.
    Many people choose topics that fit the research interests of their supervisor/superiors. And they adapt their specialization to what they know is very new and would make a "hole" in the academic body ... aka a position that can be occupied. So it's not really only for money and position, because they keep it up-to-date and aligned with the interests of the most modern research centers etc. Let's just say that the Uni is not creating a position to fit the dude or chick, but a bit the other way round (oh, we need Ethnic Studies, many cool Unis have it already --who's into that?). So those who are after clear success have a very keen eye on the academic trends in other relevant countries as well (e.g. the US, the UK, Denmark...). What is fresh and new and not very spoken about?
    As for teaching ... if you have to do with the academia for your PhD and you don't teach, you're half dead. Especially if you want to stay in research ...otherwise, of course, if you want to use a degree to top some other kind or work you're doing, it's totally fine.
    I don't think I've heard of ppl engrossed in the academia who gave up or got bored. It's too continuous, too much work. I mean lol, I only know a dude who wrote his PhD and then said fuck off to it all when his supervisor adopted a different view at his disputation in order to bootlick a superior. He was basically saying in public that the guy he had supervised was not much worth. And the dude was too proud to take such bs and simply said he saw no point in going on and got out of the room. Exit furious Shakespearean phd candidate kicking his 4-5-year work in the air . Cool huh.

    About me: I decide easily because more often than not I go into what I know I am or would be good at and into things I identify strongly with. But I sometimes have to double-check -- for instance, my supervisor kept telling me to adjust my thesis to the public a bit more (I think he's a special kind of EIE-Ni ...but I'm not sure). He urged me to become a bit less individualistic and more attentive to external opinions. In my life in general: yes, I decide easily. It's as if something in me tells me this or that is the right thing, the right way to go (gut feeling?). I haven't experienced much indecision. But as I said ... considering several things /hobbies/talents simultaneously must be cool. Oh here's something that has happened, dunno if I should call it doubt or common sense ...I canceled stuff after weeks of preparation when I made a last-day decision that it's not for me -- other projects I was thinking to apply for. Not what I'm doing now, stuff I considered to do further. It would have meant changing the field completely -- e-g. writing about hysteria in American culture (I could only use the US, race, and gender from what I've already done ...the rest was mostly psychoanalysis). Or I wanted to apply for a group project in an institute called "Law and Emotions". I could have dealt with the way emotions were used in constructions of race and gender in legal discourses in the US. The topic was fascinating, but I felt the field would have been too new .... no more literature and cultural studies, but law and the history of emotions (psychology-sociology). I gave up 1 day before the deadline .... after I filled my room and my tables with books for one month to prepare the new project. So yeah ... there are comfort zones for everyone, I guess.
    Very insightfull post! Thank you!

    Yes, Identifying a gap in the literature does get easier when you know more/get more expierence. And like you said, knowing what direction the "field" is moving in helps tremendously.
    haha and yeah teaching is manditory nowadays with the teaching requirements that faculties impose. It seems though that some profs/phd candidates see it as the "stupid thing they have to just sit through" where others actively develop their teaching styles and strategies. I think the latter are usually the ones that are really excited about their subjects and are at the point of experience where they want to share, wheras the former are either not too happy about their subject or are not secure enough yet to share their knowledge. It's been puzzling to me, some really cool teachers where sub-par researchers but got a lot of miliage out of discussions with students where a few really lousy teachers were really good at one on one discussions about their subject while they

    That anecdote you describe is indeed basically what i'm asking about, those moments you have to decide to persue or to let go, or to initiate or not to. I guess it's part of the normal journey if you have it in moderate ammounts whereas it gets obstructive when you're constantly doubting. Yours sounds perfectly reasonable. Very interesting that you decided not to do it AFTER the preperations, I mean usually preparing is a huge investment (mentally) for people and changing your mind mid-way is harder than at the conception of a plan for most people. Ofc there's guys like the phd that walked out on his supervisor (i'm kinda in that camp) so apparently there's a lot of diversity there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist Pig View Post
    The general rule of thumb, backed by research, says idiots overestimate their abilities while skilled and/or otherwise competent people underestimate their abilities.
    hahaha yes! But how do you know if you're an idiot or a competent person?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elina View Post
    Yes to the bolded.

    the www.sociotype.com descriptions mention smt for both EIIs and IEEs about how they feel like they might be or have been wasting potential.
    I'm IEI-ni subtype... so maybe that's what makes the difference?
    Ni = faith in the development of something over a long period of time, especially if lots of work is put into it (I've never doubted that I can be great at what I love, but I always understood it takes time)
    Ne = sees many opportunities, does not know which one to stick with, spreads itself too thin and can potentially not develop any one strong talent at all.
    Hmhm, good point. i'm not interested in the socionics aspects really in this thread since it's something that i'm curious about personally outside of the framework of understanding socionics (that means i care about this much more) but still nicely put. I was thinking that this is something that people differ on, and if you're right it might be type related.

    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN CHUTNEY View Post
    Yep. Anecdotally:
    I assisted a performing-arts teacher for a time, and he told me that over the years, the talented people who came to him thought they sucked, and the crappy ones thought they were awesome. I saw the truth of it in his students. Painful to witness.
    Oh god.... the first time I saw "Idols" on tv i was soo sad about the people with absolutely NO talent whatsoever... Not for those who got their dreams shattered by the critics, those will get over it. Those who stormed out and still believed they were the next king of pop where extremely saddening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    I've worked for over 5 years as a teacher in the academia and I was telling you about my own experience with students. The rest of the years I've spent in teaching outside of it drove me to similar conclusions --- it's hard for a really competent person not to know they are good. Maybe in performing arts it's different ...?
    However, as I said, this doesn't mean the person doesn't experience at least subliminally a form of "anxiety" that others may be just as good.
    Mm, @capitalistpig linked to a brief explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's not presupposed to exclude people in any given profession, although it could be possible that in highly structured environments, the DK effect is less prevalent. It would have to be investigated. I also note that I assume Germany on the whole to have stronger, clearer social structures and rewards than the U.S. does, based on what I know from German friends and family members.

    But I personally have known quite a few Germans, Swiss Germans, and Austrians who seem a bit ... overly secure by my standards. Being, for example, one of Berlin's top lawyers doesn't mean you're knowledgeable about everything under the sun, nor that you're a better person than anyone else. People from other countries can behave this way, too, but it's expressed very strongly by some Germans, ime. Actually they're very fine people in most cases, but I have to navigate cultural differences to not lose sight of that.

    As for academia, some of my friends in that field here certainly have struggled with their perceptions of their own skill and merit, and they're not lightweights. They have degrees from the best schools, good publication track records, and tenure-track positions not so easy to come by in the United States.

    Seems to me that of the areas I've worked in (publishing, performing arts, education) the DK effect is no less more more common in any. I'm curious to know if anyone's experiences across cultures and disciplines could truly prove to be exceptions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    If it's something where a direct competition or test with other individuals exist, I check the competition's schedule and I train for that, trying to reach the top 10% or so. If I'm able to do better than a sizeable amount of people, I think "ok, the skills are there". If not, I think "Ok, I need further training". If I'm really crap, I'll "Ok, better leave this now".
    In more "fuzzy" contexts it's hard for me to obtain an objective evaluation, there's too many social "layers" connected with the word "competency" or "skill".

    (I think I have been trained in the "wrong way" by sports from this pov, scoring a goal or climbing a mountain very quickly can be easily measured from an objective pov and you can "easily" check where you need improvement, publishing a paper or getting a promotion has lots of "social" stuff that's embedded, politics, etc and I'm bad at that)
    I've got some friends who have this attitude, they're among the most competent of my aquintances. I'm much too scared to test myself compared to others. Now I think about it this seems to be holding me down.
    @William had this great insight about not comparing yourself to those much better than you, how does that hold in this context? Try to find the "legue" where you're at and only compare yourself with those in that setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio View Post
    i find it really scary doing new things sometimes. but it's exciting too.
    Yeah, it can be scary. I'm usually happy to "try" new stuff but I'm terrified at actually committing myself to something.

    @merc: Are you scared of the newness or of something else? How do you deal with the barier of scaryness if you decide you want to persue something regardless?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    In my experience there's a threshold of self-confidence that very good/competent students have. The crappy ones usually try to rationalize their deficiencies, while the awesome ones are highly aware that there's place for improvement. I don't think I've ever had very skilled students who thought they absolutely sucked. But I agree with part of the Dunning-Kruger ... above average individuals can recognize and evaluate competence much better. They know who is also good, who is better, why this is the case etc.
    Self rationalising of faults is something i'm extremely concerned about. I go between thoughts of great self confidence (fueled by others) to depths of great doubt (fueled by self conscientiousness about self serving biasses). As you say, there are usually bariers in place to select the truely bad ones from entering a field, so completely sucky ones are usually rare. But how about mediocre ones. I mean, i'm quite aware of the things i'll never learn, but there's also stuff that i can do better than avarage but STILL will never be able to excell in. Can you only find out by trying?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN CHUTNEY View Post
    So the performance students I mentioned were brought into reality by this great teacher. It's important to find a really GOOD teacher or mentor, because a shitty one can do more harm than good.

    The teacher gave people tools to analyze and restructure current work, and to guide future work in the right direction. Rather than being told they were good or bad, the students could see in "praxis" together whether they were succeeding according to objective principles, and they experienced the principles applied to others' work in before/after fashion.

    Not rocket science. But highly effective.

    The people with talent and skill could see how good they really were. Those whose work fell short could see clearly too (except for the nutters, who often dropped out), and how to get better.
    This is similar (but not the same) as what @FDG was talking about, determining skill by comparisson. Sounds like a very competetent teacher.

    I've read a lot of (admidedly psuedo or non-scientific literature) about self improvement and finding a teacher or mentor is usually adviced. How do people find one? How do you recognice that this is a good teacher rather than a mediocre one? I'm failry critical in my assessment of people and found only very few people whom I admire or think are somehow superior enough to take advice from. This problem ofc doesn't apply to literal skills, more thinking in terms of social skills/knowledge/wisdom here.

    Is it even usefull to question authority in this sense or is accepting it necessary?

    (as an example, i've found that i could basically outreason/outsmart most of my philosophy teachers (not to speak of the profs of the later studies i did). This ultimately ended in my getting extremely disappointed with the field of philosophy since most of them were working on extremely small niches and didn't seem to actually add anything to the field (i'm of the opinion that philosophy as a field is rather dead). Yes i did well in class but in my personal development this laid the foundation of extreme sceptisism of the worth of "knowledge". (not talking about the technical fields or medicine or other applied sciences, more about academics).)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    I've worked for over 5 years as a teacher in the academia and I was telling you about my own experience with students. The rest of the years I've spent in teaching outside of it drove me to similar conclusions --- it's hard for a really competent person not to know they are good. Maybe in performing arts it's different ...?
    However, as I said, this doesn't mean the person doesn't experience at least subliminally a form of "anxiety" that others may be just as good.
    Yes, i think after a certain level of experience/competency you will be able to tell where you're at. But this is AFTER the initial investment has been made. This could mean 500h+ of violin lessons that are wasted since the basic talent, or potence just isn't there to get further than "tulips from amsterdam".

    Also, usually when you achieve technical mastery in an performace art (or a certain level of mastery) there's a choice about content, about theme, about character. How do you "pick" one and stick to that?

    (i think it's similar and different to academics. In both fields there's conventions and also a drive to superseed conventions. But the ammount of changing bounderies, or filling research gaps or distinguishing yourself from other artists is limitied by what others in the field (and audience/research backers) are willing to accept. But I think there's a lot of external drive, for instance parents and media, that fuel peoples self delusions in performing arts whereas there are not many parents who send their nerd-child to a peagent to present it's self exploding vulcano (maybe i'm just being bitter here that my inventions never got to see the limelight )

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    Quote Originally Posted by GOLDEN CHUTNEY View Post
    Mm, @capitalistpig linked to a brief explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's not presupposed to exclude people in any given profession, although it could be possible that in highly structured environments, the DK effect is less prevalent. It would have to be investigated. I also note that I assume Germany on the whole to have stronger, clearer social structures and rewards than the U.S. does, based on what I know from German friends and family members.

    But I personally have known quite a few Germans, Swiss Germans, and Austrians who seem a bit ... overly secure by my standards. Being, for example, one of Berlin's top lawyers doesn't mean you're knowledgeable about everything under the sun, nor that you're a better person than anyone else. People from other countries can behave this way, too, but it's expressed very strongly by some Germans, ime. Actually they're very fine people in most cases, but I have to navigate cultural differences to not lose sight of that.

    As for academia, some of my friends in that field here certainly have struggled with their perceptions of their own skill and merit, and they're not lightweights. They have degrees from the best schools, good publication track records, and tenure-track positions not so easy to come by in the United States.

    Seems to me that of the areas I've worked in (publishing, performing arts, education) the DK effect is no less more more common in any. I'm curious to know if anyone's experiences across cultures and disciplines could truly prove to be exceptions.
    Don't know about german V.S. american "arrogance". I've always seen the germans as rather "owning their reputation" as they are a hard working responsible people as a whole. I think it's, if anything, less partisan than america and more based on merit. But than, this is based solely on personal impression.

    some area's of academics lend themselves to comparrissons more easily, in holland quantity of publications is seen as highly predictive of a persons worth where i'm not always sure this is warented. However, at least their work gets critically read and selected (even though there's politics in there as well). In technical fields your worth can usually be established easier so you might be able to know your place better (also they tend to have poorer social skills = less politics )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    Very insightfull post! Thank you!

    teaching is manditory nowadays with the teaching requirements that faculties impose. It seems though that some profs/phd candidates see it as the "stupid thing they have to just sit through" where others actively develop their teaching styles and strategies. I think the latter are usually the ones that are really excited about their subjects and are at the point of experience where they want to share, wheras the former are either not too happy about their subject or are not secure enough yet to share their knowledge. It's been puzzling to me, some really cool teachers where sub-par researchers but got a lot of miliage out of discussions with students where a few really lousy teachers were really good at one on one discussions about their subject while they
    teaching is only theoretically mandatory, that's the irony in the academia . If you don't have classes, you have less chances of getting something cool later on - teaching experience counts a lot. But positions and courses are hard to get, because you basically have over 20-30 ppl into research in a department and only 1-3 full-time stable positions and some part-time classes. (in Humanities at least, probably in fields where money moves more easily, the situation is a bit better).
    Courses are as a rule connected to one's research focus, which is great, because you don't have to prepare for something completely new. I love teaching, but ironically when I was a student I thought I have more skills in writing/research than in teaching. That changed as I started teaching and I realized it's really fulfilling.

    The phd guy I was talking about was already an academic in a different city, so his fit of pride was kind of justified. I mean, his supervisor should have told him on time if her take on the subject was very different from his. That's what supervisors are for, you know. Fortunately I've never been in such a situation, I have no idea how I would react to such a crappy form of professional "betrayal".

    My potential future projects ... well, yeah, I know it seems strange. But I was quite optimistic and thought I could make use of my own background a bit more. After reading lots of books from the new field I wanted to approach, it became obvious that someone with a PhD in Law or Psychology, for instance, would have had more chances to succeed. I mean my field was tangential to the new one at best. Of course I wasn't super pleased I wasn't illuminated enough before I started reading and preparing .

    From many things you've said around I gathered you're fairly at peace with what you're doing, that you have your own business and stuff. I fail to see how you're so easily moved from confidence to doubt ... maybe you could give more details about the kind of projects or hobbies you'd like to take on. Or the talents you think you could have developed or would like to explore.

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    doubting myself comes really easy to me so when i feel cocky i try to nurture that lil seed, lol.
    (#ennea6)

    i think i'm pretty decent at what i do but i dont know that its necessarily the optimal thing i could be doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    teaching is only theoretically mandatory, that's the irony in the academia . If you don't have classes, you have less chances of getting something cool later on - teaching experience counts a lot. But positions and courses are hard to get, because you basically have over 20-30 ppl into research in a department and only 1-3 full-time stable positions and some part-time classes. (in Humanities at least, probably in fields where money moves more easily, the situation is a bit better).
    Courses are as a rule connected to one's research focus, which is great, because you don't have to prepare for something completely new. I love teaching, but ironically when I was a student I thought I have more skills in writing/research than in teaching. That changed as I started teaching and I realized it's really fulfilling.
    they say teaching is the ultimate proof that you actually mastered and understood something. Your experience kind of seems to be something like that; The coolest teachers were usually those that didn't like doing the presentations and such in their studies but started to like that when they found something they loved talking and discussing about.

    The phd guy I was talking about was already an academic in a different city, so his fit of pride was kind of justified. I mean, his supervisor should have told him on time if her take on the subject was very different from his. That's what supervisors are for, you know. Fortunately I've never been in such a situation, I have no idea how I would react to such a crappy form of professional "betrayal".
    Crappy supervisors exist, crappy students too. I'm familiar with both.

    My potential future projects ... well, yeah, I know it seems strange. But I was quite optimistic and thought I could make use of my own background a bit more. After reading lots of books from the new field I wanted to approach, it became obvious that someone with a PhD in Law or Psychology, for instance, would have had more chances to succeed. I mean my field was tangential to the new one at best. Of course I wasn't super pleased I wasn't illuminated enough before I started reading and preparing .
    I don't think it's "strange" but rather shows self control. I mean, you're at steam, you've done a lot of stuff and you realise that someone else might do it better. Most people would confince themselves they were the person for the job anyway. It's hard to step back when committed i think. (there's choice supportive bias at work at least). Pretty cool imho.

    From many things you've said around I gathered you're fairly at peace with what you're doing, that you have your own business and stuff. I fail to see how you're so easily moved from confidence to doubt ... maybe you could give more details about the kind of projects or hobbies you'd like to take on. Or the talents you think you could have developed or would like to explore.
    Meh, deserves another thread. I'm interested in how others deal with developping themselves in this thread. Don't want to turn it into something about me personally in this case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    doubting myself comes really easy to me so when i feel cocky i try to nurture that lil seed, lol.
    (#ennea6)

    i think i'm pretty decent at what i do but i dont know that its necessarily the optimal thing i could be doing.
    Do you ever feel like you "should" search for the optimum? If so, how do you deal with the discrepancy?

    Is decent good enough for you? How much of your self worth depends on that one "decent" thing?

    Aren't there other "talents" you have, like parenthood, that are also in play when you look at your development? If so, is this something you develop consciously (i mean the development of that "role", not how "spontanious" your parenthood was)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    This is similar (but not the same) as what @FDG was talking about, determining skill by comparisson. Sounds like a very competetent teacher.

    I've read a lot of (admidedly psuedo or non-scientific literature) about self improvement and finding a teacher or mentor is usually adviced. How do people find one? How do you recognice that this is a good teacher rather than a mediocre one? I'm failry critical in my assessment of people and found only very few people whom I admire or think are somehow superior enough to take advice from. This problem ofc doesn't apply to literal skills, more thinking in terms of social skills/knowledge/wisdom here.

    Is it even usefull to question authority in this sense or is accepting it necessary?

    (as an example, i've found that i could basically outreason/outsmart most of my philosophy teachers (not to speak of the profs of the later studies i did). This ultimately ended in my getting extremely disappointed with the field of philosophy since most of them were working on extremely small niches and didn't seem to actually add anything to the field (i'm of the opinion that philosophy as a field is rather dead). Yes i did well in class but in my personal development this laid the foundation of extreme sceptisism of the worth of "knowledge". (not talking about the technical fields or medicine or other applied sciences, more about academics).)
    Of course I've also had teachers who I thought were not as good as they should have been. Is there anyone who hasn't?

    But for instance take my current supervisor -- who is not really a "teacher"/mentor for me, albeit an intriguing case. He's very good at what he's doing, but he's the kind of academic who excels in teaching rather than "supervising phds". I mean, he doesn't have a school of thought of his own and a bunch of people he wants to "guide" and "form", as some really great personalities in science did. I often think he's too diplomatic and not critical enough from a position of his own. My ex was also into research and the guy who supervised his phd was actually my ideal in this respect (the guy is dead now). The guy was was also my teacher at the Uni and a LII from what I could tell. You could see he was really invested in the work of those he supervised, he literally contributed to their formation with over 30%. For my supervisor I feel this job of supervising is actually more a formality ... I often feel I'm too much "on my own", kind of like he just reads my stuff and says where a new subchapter could work ... hardly any real ideological "guidance", more stuff related to structure and direction (e.g. "this aspect is really novel and fresh and under the radar of other ppl around as well, so you could emphasize it more" ---that's why I think he's a EIE-Ni species ).
    Last edited by Amber; 07-25-2014 at 04:59 PM.

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    Glorious Member mu4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    I've worked for over 5 years as a teacher in the academia and I was telling you about my own experience with students. The rest of the years I've spent in teaching outside of it drove me to similar conclusions --- it's hard for a really competent person not to know they are good. Maybe in performing arts it's different ...?
    However, as I said, this doesn't mean the person doesn't experience at least subliminally a form of "anxiety" that others may be just as good.
    In my professional experience I have met many many individuals who pretend they were good and who failed at every level of my field. Not all subjects have the same talent pool. Most scientific fiend have a very narrow band of individuals who are truly competent and a number that are little more than technicians and support staff. This is the same in design and any sort of creative problem solving. Consequently, I've met many individuals who were trained in something like social science/literature who I thought would have made very competent scientists, despite their educational background, however it would have been foolish for them to start the process. When you've been trained at something and given pieces of paper to validate that training it tends to inflate individuals self-confidence in that area, but given that individuals change careers extremely often and go back to school to study what they were really supposed to quite often, it's pretty common for individuals to know nothing about what they're good at. The inadequacy of school in certain fields is a long term issues and won't really be solved, however it's still useful for producing future middle managers and consultants.

    I would say scientific fields are particularly barren because of its unattractiveness and many talented individuals don't take it up.

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    killer wolf lemontrees's Avatar
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    useless anecdote:

    I was once in a class dissecting some reading when the prof (ILI) analyzed it as "this depicts when you have just enough talent that your guiding figures support and encourage you your whole life but not enough where you manage to actually accomplish anything- but you end up wasting your life doing it." you could hear the atmosphere in the room drop like a rock.

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    Moderator Reficulris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemontrees View Post
    useless anecdote:

    I was once in a class dissecting some reading when the prof (ILI) analyzed it as "this depicts when you have just enough talent that your guiding figures support and encourage you your whole life but not enough where you manage to actually accomplish anything- but you end up wasting your life doing it." you could hear the atmosphere in the room drop like a rock.
    Oh god that is an example of enlightened teaching and nurturing of young souls :S


    (he might have been right in a lot of cases, how many classmates of you flunked after that course?)

    Also, that's kinda a super big fear of mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    Do you ever feel like you "should" search for the optimum? If so, how do you deal with the discrepancy?

    Is decent good enough for you? How much of your self worth depends on that one "decent" thing?

    Aren't there other "talents" you have, like parenthood, that are also in play when you look at your development? If so, is this something you develop consciously (i mean the development of that "role", not how "spontanious" your parenthood was)
    i feel ambivalent about not having a calling of some kind. i wish i did but i'm skeptical that such a thing actually exists and that other people who have one don't just convince themselves that their arbitrary choices have been the best possible. i dunno, i put effort into the things that require it and hope that it pays off and moves me forward. "personal development" is such a vague and slow moving thing that investing self worth in it is stressful and i don't really think of it that way. i don't have some kind of lifetime goal to compare my current progress to, so i'm more inclined to compare where i am now to things like where my parents were or where i would likely be if i had made different choices. and from that frame of reference i'm not dissapointed. there's always an awareness that i'm far from reaching some sort of apex but i can't visualize what that would look like anyway.

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    killer wolf lemontrees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reficulris View Post
    Oh god that is an example of enlightened teaching and nurturing of young souls :S


    (he might have been right in a lot of cases, how many classmates of you flunked after that course?)

    Also, that's kinda a super big fear of mine.
    well to be fair I think he was specifically talking about creative pursuits. the idea being that perhaps you could have had a better quality of life if you chose something else. but also I'm not so sure that model is valid these days since so many people do so many different things at once (and education/training is much more democratized via the internet, etc).

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