Some people seem to have a certain inner strength. They thrive, even in crisis. One thinks, perhaps of Winston Churchill. But you don’t need to narrow your vision to leaders. Claude Monet had a peaceful yet equally strong character that enabled him to stick with his vision of painting long after he was forgotten by the art world. Others do not. They waver. They give up. They don’t follow through. My question is what is the difference?
Is it that some people are just born to be strong and others to be weak? This is the conventional wisdom and it is possible. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it because I have seen people move from weak to strong and others from strong to weak. In these cases, there was something other than genes at work.
So if it is some
thing other than inheritance, what is it? My belief is that it has to do with how you start your life story. If you start from a weak point, you will end up with a weak story. Conversely, if you start from a strong point, your life story will be stronger for it.
But what does this mean in practice?`Your life story starts with how we react to significant events. That first reaction sets the tone for the story. Churchill, for example, was a bit of a trouble maker in his early days. The story really had not started yet. Then his father passed away — a major event. He reacted strongly — to vindicate the family name. And you can think of his life story as that vindication. H
We might compare this with Winston’s son Randolph. Randolph lived in his father’s shadow, rebelling by trying to show off how smart he was. Smarter than his successful father? He never really grew out of that attitude. It was a far weaker starting point and some would say it led to a somewhat tragic end.
This line of thought has made me more sensitive to what makes events “significant”. Why do some events start a story and others do not? I am also thinking about what makes for a strong and coherent reaction? These are interesting questions and important ones.