The BBC ran a piece on BBC Worldwide (International Site) which they won’t let UK viewers read, so I’ll summarize it. They went to the question-and-answer site Quora to find if some people have qualities, ones they didn’t necessarily earn, that give them an ‘unfair’ edge over others. It makes interesting reading. One of the most popular was “not needing a lot of sleep.” If, like Napoleon and Lady Thatcher, you can get away with only a few hours a night, that leaves you with more productive hours out of your 24. “Optimism” was another choice, since optimistic people believe in themselves and have a can-do attitude that brings results. “Energy” was chosen, in that some people seem able to live at a pace that would exhaust others, and manage to fit an incredible number of activities into their lives.
“A good memory” was listed as conveying several advantages. It helps you learn by remembering your mistakes. It helps with people by remembering things about them. And it helps with self-confidence as you remember all your achievements in full colour. It also aids your efficiency if you can keep track of everything you are engaged in. Not mentioned in the survey, but one I’d include is what might be called a practical intelligence, meaning that you can work out ways of doing things. It does enable people to achieve things that might leave others baffled.
But does any of this deserve to be called unfair? Some people are good looking and become movie stars. Some have good voices and become pop stars (as do many that don’t). Some have blue eyes; some have blond hair. Nature is by no means egalitarian when it comes to handing out talents, and the same might apply to life skills. OK, some need less sleep, some are more optimistic, some more energetic. Some have more vivid memories and some people always seem to know how to do things. Why not just call them lucky?
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