One of the more memorable learning moments of my professional career came in August of 1991 when an individual who I had hired just a few month earlier, shared some deeply personal information with me. Despite having attended a prominent liberal arts school in the Mid-Atlantic, he wanted his first career to be in sales; and particularly, to involve big ticket financial transactions.
He was drawn to our firm’s value proposition, and felt that he too, could play a significant role in elevating the wellbeing of some of Washington, DC’s most prominent privately-held corporations. His work ethic was tireless; his character was the most genuine that I had seen, and his ability to comprehend complex ideas was a gift. Unfortunately, he was not able to convince anyone to implement his ideas.
Fearing my disappointment, he asked to have coffee with me outside the office on an early August morning, and for two hours, he spoke and I listened. He shared the story of his upbringing; and not only was he adopted and had never met his birth parents, he had his self confidence shattered when his fourth fifth grade teacher labeled him ‘a slow learner’. He has since never stopped trying to prove her wrong; and this job was no different.
He asked that I don’t give up on him, and for the next fourteen years he evolved into a remarkable story of success and triumph. Like Scott Barry Kaufman; he refused to let anyone define his future. In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined Scott chronicles a similar challenge; but in the process, he learned that society’s definition of intelligence is incomplete – here’s what he discovered ——-