Wednesday, August 08, 2007

To Genuinely Understand Brilliance

All too often, when someone tells you they have "high standards", they mean they have only one standard -- a narrow one -- that they try to fit everyone into. The ancient Greeks had a wise myth about that. Procrustes was the fool who had only one standard, and thus became a monster.

When travelers stopped at his house for the night, he would offer them a bed. If the bed was too long for the traveler, Procrustes would take a hammer and pound the man out until he fit the bed. But if the bed was too short, Procrustes would take a saw and remove enough of the man's legs to fit the bed.

When we apply only one standard in judging people, we not only become monsters, but we become unrealistic monsters.

You cannot genuinely understand human brilliance if, like an IQ test, you hold everyone to the same standard. Some people are brilliant in how they see shapes and spaces -- perhaps they become architects or sculptors. Some people are brilliant in how they see words -- perhaps they become authors. Some people are brilliant in how they see human relationships -- perhaps they become counselors or leaders. I could go on, but you get the picture.

I have never met a person who was deeply appreciative and knowledgeable of human talent and skill who had only one standard by which to judge human talent and skill. There can be a decided lack of realism involved in having only one standard for folks.


Sister Mary Lisa said...

This post is excellent, Paul. I appreciate differences in people a lot, and after leaving the church, I actually embrace those differences without first filtering the thought of What Would The Church Have Me Think About This Person? That mindset is grossly wrong.

Paul said...

Thank you, Sister Mary Lisa! I believe I can see how wrong it would be to filter what you thought of a person through how the church would have you think of them. After all, churches very often seem more concerned with social control -- and they judge people in light of that -- than with encouraging people's talents and skills.

Krish Ashok said...

Great post, and great blog. You need to move to Wordpress though :)
Almost every country in the world uses standardized tests to measure intelligence. These also tend to (and in some cases, force) determine a person's career. In India, people are comfortable with these national, standardized tests simply because almost all of them want their children to become engineers or doctors. Not artists, sportsmen, chocolate tasters, bee-keepers, interior decorators or entrepreneurs.

Paul said...

Hi Krish! Welcome!

Yes, I have to agree with you about Wordpress. I've gotten to like it better than Blogger. But at this point, how would I move my archives to a new blog? I feel stuck here.

Economic pressures often force people into careers they are not happy with. I think that's a tragedy because it so often means that someone does not fully develop their talents and skills -- their human potential -- in the career they are an ill fit for.