• Zeeshan Samad

Anyone can be anything

The Polgar sisters experiment shows that there is no such thing as innate talent, that all skills are acquired. In 1965, a Hungarian psychologist named Laszlo Polgar hypothesized that any child could be trained into becoming a genius in any field. He and his wife decided to test his hypothesis. (In fact, this is why they got married!) The first of their three daughters was born in 1969. But even before she was born, Laszlo had outlined a detailed plan of how to raise their children. They filled their house with chess books and pictures of chess players, homeschooled their children, kept records of all opponents their children played against in tournaments, etc. Basically, they made their whole lives revolve around chess.

Anyway, long story short, all three daughters ended up becoming grandmasters at a very young age, confirming Laszlo's hypothesis.


And this is not the only such story. Take Serena and Venus Williams for example. Their father coached them from a very young age and made their lives revolve around Tennis. To give you an idea how much they practiced, ``The young sisters hardly ever left the courts, grinding through practice sessions that started as early as 6 a.m. and stretched into the dark of night after school was out. They sometimes had to return 500 volleys just to earn a rest for the evening.'' (source) And we all know how all that effort turned out for them.


So if we can become anything, we don't we? Will power. Even after we have decided what we want to focus on (which is a very hard task in itself), we are not willing to make all the prescribed sacrifices needed to excel in it. For example, say one day we decide to become fit, like a bodybuilder. We start hitting the gym everyday, make some progress, but eventually plateau. Basically, we don't excel in bodybuilding. We may be fitter and stronger than before, and definitely stronger than the average person. But within the subset of bodybuilders, we're nothing. At best, we'd be average in that subset. This is because we didn't have the sheer will power to follow an extremely strict diet plan, an extremely difficult exercise routine, and strict sleep schedule, etc. That's really the only reason. That's the only thing that the Polgar sisters and the Williams sisters had that others don't.


So it is true that you can be anything you want. But are you willing to, though?

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