When we think of creative geniuses and innovators, we tend to attribute their successes to innate abilities. The prodigy scientist who was born to excel. The virtuoso musician who dazzles with her in-born talent. The gifted artist whose creations captivate all who behold them. We often overlook factors beyond talent, such as the environment in which individuals were raised and the life circumstances that shaped their opportunities.
As it turns out, economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues have discovered that external factors such as family income play an outsized role in predicting who becomes an inventor. Consider this: those raised in the top 1% of family income are 10 times more likely to become inventors than those raised in families below the median income. Another factor is geography – Chetty’s research has demonstrated that moving from New Orleans to Austin, Texas will increase an individual’s probability of earning a patent by 37%. And the presence of role models is critical, especially for women inventors.
In his amazing new book, Hidden Potential, Prof Adam Grant traces the factors required to nurture talent beyond natural born abilities: character skills, scaffolding and systems. The latter portion of his book delves into systems, cultures, and processes that cultivate potential, and this article…
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