A reader objected to the advice below in “Morning Thoughts“, arguing that
Any advice for the average Joe? No special talent, IQ 100, makes his living with his hands and his feet. Has better qualifications than half the population of working ageHow about advice for the half who are less qualified than Joe?Those in the quartile directly above Joe? IQ 105, 2 years of community college, background in retail sales, construction. Works with his hands and his feet.May I suggest, Professor Mead, that you are only thinking of the nerd minority, the class to which you belong? IQ greater than 115 (probably greater than 125), BA degree, makes his or her living with an educated brain.In other words you belong to that smart fraction makes the economy go — or, rather, that smart fraction is necessary in order for the economy to grow, but unless you can address the needs of the 80% of those seeking employment as hourly wage workers in non-supervisory positions, may I suggest you are not addressing the needs of the American people.
Another reader countered, writing:
That advice applies to everyone, regardless of education level.The question is, does government policy help or hinder the young mother who wants to make breakfast burritos in her home to supplement her income so she can make a better life for herself and her kids?In places as diverse as New York City or here in southern Colorado, embarking on such a simple enterprise is fraught with a tangle of legalities and one must jump through a thousand fiery bureaucratic hoops.
I go with Reader Number Two. The advice to make the most of your talents applies to everyone. If anything, people who are constantly being told in school and elsewhere that they are ‘too dumb’ are MORE likely to miss their hidden talents and abilities than those who are constantly being told how special they are. Not everybody is going to win a Nobel Prize, or quit their day job to write great novels, but almost all of us are capable of more success and happiness than we now enjoy.As I read the advice, it is not limited to the super geniuses or even the ‘nerds’. A person with a passion for cooking or gardening may be able to find better ways to make a living than a routine factory job in an industry that is shrinking by the day. Someone with a gift for empathy and understanding may do more good and have a richer life by going into health care or education rather than working as a clerk in a local store. Figuring out your real strengths and passions and having the courage to base career decisions on them does not just make sense for the budding Einsteins and investment bankers among us. It is about living your best life and honoring your Creator by placing the sum of your talents, be they great or small, in the common service as best you can.Self improvement never has been and is not now a message solely for elites. The belief that ‘ordinary’ people can live better lives by dint of cultivating their talents and that the capacity for growth and self-direction of the ‘average’ American deserves respect is not, in my book, a mark of elitism.