Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Papa was a rolling stone

The nature versus nurture debate is an old one. Though I am no expert, it seems logical to me that both play a big roll. A friend of mine who was adopted at birth is one of the brightest guys I know. When he turned 21, his biological parents were allowed to contact him and he discovered that one was a chemical engineer and the other a software engineer. Not a big surprise.

And yet obviously, no matter who your parents are, life's experiences shape you in many ways. In 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell talks of the influence of communities and opportunities that shaped the lives of many great people. Being born in New York versus being born in Kwandengezi matters. Warren Buffet refers to it as the 'Ovarian Lottery'.

But sometimes your responses are a reaction to rather than a continuation of. In spending time with my Grandmother today, she spoke of her Grandfather who came out from England with a BA from Oxford. He decided to take his kids out of school at age 12 to work on the farm, and so their education was in milking cows and building things. My Gran's Dad became a skilled butcher, a builder of bridges ... and a rolling stone. My Gran went to `about 20 different schools'. My Gran was also one of 9 kids. Her brothers may have been tradesmen like their Dad, but they also made other decisions. The brother closest to my Gran in age decided that unlike his Dad, he was going to work for one company... he wasn't going to be a rolling stone. My Gran also made a 'going another way decision'. She just had three kids thank you very much.

Another friend told me a common saying... If you want to marry a girl, take a look at her mother. That's what she will be like in 30 years. Also, take a look at how her parents interact. I reckon there is some, but not complete truth, in that (for chaps as well as gals, and fathers as well as mothers). We get a lot from 'the ovarian lottery', but we also get to make a lot of choices along the way.

I also think that most/all of the people who read this post won more in the lottery than 95% of the World. I think we get to pick from what we want, and are accountable for where we end up.
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