If it's not the genes, what brings success?

We like to believe that genes bring success. It helps us greatly when we are trying to come in terms with the failures in our lives.

Be it a god dude who does only freak things or a natural calamity that washes away the savings of a lifetime, we like to shift the blame from ourselves and deposit it at a place from where it seldom comes back haunting us.

But looking at the gene theory, we seldom come across natural progenies repeating the same level of success their parents managed to achieve.

I am not going around cherry picking, but we don’t really see scientific success or mathematical prowess being inherited across multiple generations. There aren’t any mathematical or scientific ‘dynasties’, that manage to hold the helm of scientific innovation for a considerable amount of time.

While intelligence is driven by genetic composition, what this intelligence achieves in real life is a function of how productive the person have been during his lifetime. If the person hails from a background where he cannot properly utilise his raw ‘processing power’, it’s wasted forever.

I am led to ‘believe’ that what we all end up being depends heavily on the way we grew up, the kind of people with whom we spend our time with and the kind of environment we are submerged in.

A recent add-on to my repertoire is this article published on Nature.com yesterday:

[Majority of mathematicians hail from just 24 scientific ‘families’](http://www.nature.com/news/majority-of-mathematicians-hail-from-just-24-scientific-families-1.20491 “ target=”_blank)

If you analyse the teacher-pupil lineages across five centuries, you will actually find out that majority of the mathematicians we knew came from a mere 24 research families.

Now there are a lot of metrics at play here. Factors like the most intelligent people ending up with the most prolific researchers of their time, the most fecund period of these researchers might overlap with the time they spend with their exceptional peers and that leading to another overlap in their professional and personal relationships etc.

But if we approach it from ‘the correlation between a person’s eco-system, intelligence and achievements in life’ POV, we are led towards the people around you hypothesis.

This hypothesis can be wrong as well. But there is no doubt that the best possible setting for you to grow is when you are the least smartest guy in the room and you have won over your own ego, being ready to learn whatever it takes to improve yourself.

The resolve to learn whatever it takes to excel, willingness to learn from people smarter than you, a good amount of faith in yourself and an uncompromising position on scientific method is what we should be looking out for.

Written on August 27, 2016