Support for those with
by Tony Copple

For those who like to smell the roses, feel that 'success' is overrated,
and that there is just too much motivational munbo-jumbo around

Warning: these three web pages contain information that is my
own personal observation. I cannot provide references because
for all I know there aren't any. This may be the cutting edge
of sociology, unhampered by other people's ideas,
or it may be totally inept.

Do you have sports trophies on your mantleshelf? Do you have a doctorate graduation photograph on your office wall? Are you a "top producer" in your company? Do you find some skills come easily that others seem to have difficulty with? (The only first prize I have ever been awarded was the hairy legs competition at St. Isidore's Church in Kanata). Are you beautiful? Are you renowned for anything, outside your immediate circle?


Then read on. This page is for you.

Benjamin Franklin said: "I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan." Most people have abilities in some areas, although they may not yet have discovered which. But a minority does not have tolerable abilities. Maybe you are in this group. Maybe accomplishing great affairs is not your future.

Guess what? You may be one of the lucky ones. Remember how unpopular the class genious was at school, and how convivial the average student who didn't take examination marks so seriously? Well, it's much the same throughout life. If you are the captain of the ship, or the CEO of the company, you probably went through training in not being too friendly with those you are in charge of or work for you. After all, most CEOs maximize their own income by setting the incomes of those who work for them at just enough that they won't quit. This doesn't make them happy.

How do you relate to those motivational posters that abound on office walls with pictures of excellence and by-lines to encourage draining the last drop of energy in the fight to beat out the competition, or your own colleagues? Do they slightly sicken you? A company called Despair Inc. of Dallas sells demotivational posters with slogans like "Apathy: If we don't take care of the customers, maybe they'll stop bugging us." They offer the Despair calendar, marking some of history's greatest failures (Van Gogh cuts his ear off, 1888; the Mars probe crashes due to software that fails to convert from imperial units to metric, 1999.) Now, don't get me wrong: if you have the talent, than you do need the motivation, because none of the world's top athletes, singers, engineers or homemakers got there without supreme effort. But this site isn't designed for you!

There's a semi-truth put out by every motivational speaker I've ever heard, and it's that if you want to achieve something enough, you can do it. As a counsellor, I know this often isn't true. They forget to add that you need talent in that field, or at least some capability. Certainly, the young boy with a rough-hewn hockey talent won't play with the NHL without a driving belief in himself. But I see people with no ability in a particular field but with desperate desire to succeed exhausting themselves in the effort, while others achieve fame and fortune doing what comes naturally to them, and telling less endowed folk that anyone can do it if they just focus and want it enough. Mickey Mantle is an example of this. In his excellent book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shows that other ingredients needed for world-class success include the good fortune to be born at the right time, and practice; 10,000 hours of practice is the norm. The saddest thing is that you can't just tell the truly inept that they simply don't have the skill and talent, and never will have. That little slice of truth might cause irreparable damage. Better to let them carry on hoping that one day they'll succeed, and when they go to their early graves having failed all their lives, you won't be around for them to bitterly castigate for building up their false hopes. Carlo Strenger writes about the false malaise of not achieving global success in "The Fear of Insignificance." Those of us who understand we lack talent often attempt to make up for it with hard work. At university I worked longer than anyone else I knew, while my friends partied. In my careers I always went the extra mile just to perform adequately, and the result was two divorces. In my first training as an insurance man the class was told that anyone who put their family before their work would fail. In my third marriage, older and wiser, I compromise my work on a regular basis, putting my relationship higher than my desire to please my bosses. I now work for a company that recognizes that spouses exist and are not a liability. I see others work half as hard and succeed twice as well. So if you feel less than talented, I empathise with you, but I have learned to be content since I perceive that some highly "successful" folk are not. One reason never to tell people they don't have talent is because they may in fact be extremely talented. John Lennon knew he was talented from an early age, and through strength of character rose above the taunts of his teachers telling him the opposite. How many gifted children never develop, through negative taunts? The City of Ottawa health department put out a poster in 2005 showing a picture of a happy child, and the caption: "Why would this boy think he's dumb, stupid, lazy? Because his parents told him so." It was on my 60th birthday that a friend told me I was very intelligent; a comment that has completely changed my self image (and therefore every aspect of my life) which had been imprinted by my father when I was a child.

I don't want to pass over Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success" with just a single mention. This is ground-breaking work, setting to rest the myth that successful people are just born that way. In fact many have become successful because of their birthday; not because of astrology (!) but because as children their birthdate fell shortly after the registration date for school, or sports. Many more sports celebrities were born in the first three months of the year than would be expected, since when first enrolled they received up to 12 months more training than others born later in the year. Same with kindergarten enrollments. But if on first hearing this seems extraordinary, please read the book and be convinced. Such accidental factors have resulted in far more success than had been widely understood hitherto. Invariably, rags to riches stories gloss over mountains of hard graft, and no small measures of providential circumstances. So if you are not among the rich and famous, please do not assume it is because you have failed in your own efforts.

The Silva Intuition System is an effective way to learn to use your talents to their highest potential, and does not suggest that anything you may want to do is achievable. This is an intelligent and logical approach that I would recommend - particularly since it has been recommended to me by intelligent and logical people whom I trust.

In the matter of getting the top jobs, there may be factors at work that are outside your control. Have you ever noticed how many of those with the really top jobs are also very good-looking, and vice-versa? Companies seem to like the image portrayed by handsome or attractive employees at the top management level. Some such matters may be controllable, but are you aware of how important they are? I have written on this subject.

William James, Harvard's most distinguished professor of psychology, wrote: "In almost any subject, your passion for the subject will save you. If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. If you wish to be good, you will be good. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich. If you wish to be learned, you will be learned. Only then you must really wish these things and wish them with exclusiveness and not wish one hundred other incompatible things just as strongly."

Maybe we should not be too envious of all "brilliant" people. Asperger's Syndrome is a condition where a person may have a very good mathematical or scientific mind, or be very knowledgable about a particular subject, perhaps having a particularly good memory, but is likely to struggle with the art of social relating to a greater or lesser extent. In such people, their gift in one area may be offset by "negative talent" in other areas. Have you ever worked for someone who seemed handicapped in part of his or her range of activity, yet had been thought skilled enough for promotion, perhaps even to managing director level? The movie 'A Beautiful Mind' describes a physicist who has some of the Aspergers characteristics, although in his case it is extreme and he is also psychotic. There is an example of a married couple, one of whom has been diagnosed with Aspergers. He is a very successful computer technician, but quiet, withdrawn and lacking in social skills, so sometimes perceived as rude. Communicating and expressing feelings is often particularly difficult, and his wife was about to divorce him because she'd had enough of his apparent insensitivity, but the diagnosis of Asperger's saved their marriage, because it gave an explanation for his behaviour and made her feel much more sympathetic towards him! People with Aspergers often find it extremely difficult to sense other people's feelings and cannot be empathic.

A related condition is "idiot savant" where an individual is at genious level in one narrow area, and otherwise totally mentally defective.

There is a series of books witten by Dale Carnegie that I would strongly recommend as the starting point for anyone seeking success in many fields, particularly business or sales. They are: "How to win friends and influence people," "How to stop worrying and start living," and "The quick and easy way to effective speaking" (from which the above statement by William James is taken). Until you have read these books and practised what they advocate, you have no evidence for assuming that you cannot succeed in your chosen field. "How to win friends...", particularly, points out that it is not technical or academic knowledge that brings success in business and in life, but the ability to deal with people, and build relationships, a skill that can be taught to virtually anybody. People give scant regard to expertise and knowledge, but can be led to any destination by someone who has practised the art of dealing with people. No university course is needed; indeed, few teach it. (It should be taught to kids in school.)

Lest you think I am contradicting myself, suggesting such skills can be taught to anybody, the sad fact is that few people have them, and the majority continue destroying relationships rather than building them. How well do the neighbours on your street get on with one another?

It is my observation that only about 5% of the population have not received the intelligence to succeed (which includes the common sense to follow advice). God did not see fit to imbue eveyone with equal intelligence (which is not a by-product of education). The original concept behind this web page was primarily intended for the 5%. 90% of you should read the books, understand and overcome the barriers that others inadvertantly put up (described on this site), search for your vision, get off your butts and and blossom. The most difficult of these four is getting off your butt, but this will be no problem if you want to succeed enough. The top 5% of the population seem to be naturally imbued with the simple skills in dealing with people necessary for success, and they don't need any help, though they will need a huge amount of practice. Neither should we too effusively admire them; they were born like that! If you doubt this watch a video about child prodigy Ethan, or this amusing call from 8-year old Becky, a product of the communications age. Research from the University of Montreal published in 2013 suggests that 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week during pregnancy enhances a newborn's brain development. Drug-taking will do the reverse. Your chances in life are determined in part in the womb.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Every man is created equal." He was referring to every person's right to equal opportunity. Unfortunately some have inferred from this little phrase that we all have the same brains, and the same capacity to think and to excell. The truth is different, in my observation, as we exploit our abilities in the game of life. It is known that people are endowed with different amounts of creativity; some are left-brained, some right. Success in life or any particular field is not correlated with race, affluence, religion, hard work, experience, intelligence, learning or happiness. In business, success is often more a matter of street smarts than education. I wish we knew with more certainly what qualities most contribute to success in life. The new paradigm of emotional competance identified by psychologist Reuven Bar-On suggestes that the "EQ," emotional quotient - rather than IQ - reveals specific competancies that characterize high performance in a range of professions, and that people's abilities to understand and manage their emotions can determine their success in life. My theory - influenced by IBM's slogan "Think" - is that success in human or (animal) society depends on the ability to think clearly and fast: the speed of thought. Although we have large numbers of subconscious thoughts simultaneously, our brains can only handle one conscious thought at a time, so we are limited as in a kind of venturi tube of the mind.

An analogy may be drawn with the processing speed of microprocessors. The machine I am typing on now, a Dell Latitude 600 has a Pentium (R) chip operating at 1400MHz. When I started my web site in 1996 I was using a 386 chip, which ran at about 25 MHz. My first efforts on a personal computer were with a Z81, in about 1978, with a clock speed 2 Mhz. So the Dell runs 700 times faster than my ZX81. One huge advantage of this speed in its multitasking ability. I can type this while the machine is sending e-mail, and I can search the Internet for microprocessor clock speeds (as I just did) all at the same time, or more accurately while those three programs were all available to me. Now think of the brain as having different clock speeds. It is as if one person's brain runs like a Pentium, and another's like a 286, and a third like a 386. I am not saying different brains have different clock speeds; sometimes my brain runs faster than at other times, depending on my general state of mind, or health, vitamin and mineral intake, alcohol intake etc. Certainly we know that a drunk can often walk down a straight line on the ground, but cannot count at the same time; his multitasking is shot. This analogy help us understand that some people will be able to think more clearly and faster than others because their brains appear to be working faster, just as a Pentium works faster than a 286. I have written a song about this: see link below to Ineptitude: the Song.

Most of us have encountered men and women of ability so superior to our own that they seem almost like another species. Some who never learned to read have awesome vision. In Michael Eisner's excellent book about his company, Disney, it is clear that those who rise to the top have natural qualities of self-image, focus, vision in decision making, ambition softened with humility, that they probably displayed as teenagers. Furthermore, once in business, the most important quality is the ability to foster good relationships with colleagues, vital in corporate decision-making. In contrast about 11% of the population suffer at some time from Social Phobia, which is what you have when you break into a sweat at joining a conversation with a group of people, or speaking in public, which can clearly impede progress up the corporate ladder.

It seems that individual human effectiveness will fall somewhere between genius or (child) prodigy, to slow thinking emotional incompetance, and that we have a limited ability to advance ourselves; limited compared with the full range to be seen in human nature. Motivational trainers such as Anthony Robbins and Jay Allen show us how those with a "drive to achieve" can move ourselves upwards (though not to the extent that their sales pitches would suggest). In the movie U-571, ordinary men who were drafted as submariners achieved extraordinary results through courage and dedication, and leadership. We should separate such feats of courage and endurance from human characteristics of ability or ineptitude.

I see natural human capabilities on a continuum like a ladder stretching to the sky, with me on a low rung on that ladder. To climb, I certainly need more knowledge and to work smarter and delegate more. But also I would have to improve my emotional competance, and increase my speed of thought, which may not be possible to do. Most of us have experienced methods of slowing down thinking speed (alcohol, fatty food), but our performance on a good day is something we may each be given at conception. Do not read too much significance into your place on the ladder if happiness is your goal. A happy person is content to appreciate the universe from whatever level God has seen fit to place them. We are all equally loved by God, as his children, and that surely is far more important than our paltry achievements.

Let's talk about happiness for a while. In 2004, the New Scientist published a survey (reprinted in August 2004 Readers Digest) that sought to identify the top ten factors in a happy life. Here they are:
Wealth - but diminishing returns once basic needs are satisfied
Desire - the smaller the gap between what they already had, and what they wanted - their aspirations - increases happiness
Intelligence - not a major factor
Genetics - accounts for a large difference in happiness levels
Beauty - or if you believe you look great - is a factor
Friendship - slum dwellers are usually reasonably happy because of the support friendships they have
Marriage - Marriage does make you happier
Faith - people of faith, believing in an afterlife, and a purpose, are significantly happier
Charity - generosity breeds happiness
Age - we tend to get happier with age

Recent traumatic events in schools and the workplace have illustrated the pressures some children and immature adults are enduring from their peers. School, and some workplaces, are places where the in-crowd can ostracize those who are weak, poor, inarticulate, disabled, uncoordinated and poor on the sports field. It is pointless to criticise the in-crowd kids. Children (and other species) are known to exhibit this behaviour, and no amount of moralizing will change it. In the past repressed children have put up with their lot. Now, influenced by media violence and the amazingly easy access to guns in some countries, they are drawing up "hit lists" and murdering those they hate. This is a particular aspect of ineptitude, but we had better find an antidote for it in the schools and workplace before many more get shot.

There is one major area where a particular type of motivation can achieve miracles. If your need is for wisdom to glorify God with your life, then you can expect the motivational power of sincere prayer to bring you everything you ever need - though not necessarily what you want or expect. God will sometimes - even spontaneously - give spiritual gifts - eg. discernment, speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc, that they may minister to others. And if he can give spiritual gifts, he can give physical gifts, usually to those whose faith he wants to strengthen. In the Bible and today, many of the people to whom He gave the gift of leadership were previously timid and unimpressive, such as Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, and in our era, EJH Nash. God's view of success is of course totally different from the world's. It is being and thinking like a servant that brings success in his eyes, and will bring more joy to our lives than all the worldly trappings sought by so many. See The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, Chapters 33 and 34.

Before going further however, it's possible you are not inept or incompetent at all. You may be suffering from Social Phobia (see above), or you may have a mineral defficiency. Without sufficient trace minerals your body and brain cells cannot convert food into energy efficiently. The result can be listlessness, depression, even chronic fatigue. Mental symptoms include a lack of enthusiasm for work or play, loss of memory, inarticulation, fear, and loss of self image. I suffered many of these until I got my nutrition sorted out. Now I feel like a totally different person, and the cost of some of the best nutrition products around is a small price to pay. Since I have a personal history in this area, I feel very strongly about it - but I realize that it may apply only to a small part of the population. Nevertheless I would urge anyone who feels overburdened by daily life - particularly if there are times when you don't feel overburdened - to look at your diet. Are you on a diet? If so you could be excluding vital nutrients from your daily intake. If I stop taking my minerals and antioxidants (I use Pharmanex "LifePak" and "Overdrive") after a couple of days I can feel the old insecurities returning - why would anyone ever care what I say; I am so far less significant and important than those around me - etc. I used to get these symptoms when staying on holiday with family who were less committed to avoiding high-fat food than I was. In your case high-fat may be less of a problem; you have to discover what it is your body doesn't want, or lacks.

Sometimes a lack of empathy may be taken for incompetance, yet the two are distinct. Empathy may be variable, depending on stress and physical health. Empathy is the ability to gauge the effect of your words and actions on others, and to take appropriate avoiding action if necessary before saying or doing them. It's knowing how much one can communicate with someone without becoming a turn-off for that person. It's the knowledge that we all interact with one another, but some people with less empathy only take into account what they need or want, and without an appreciation of the effect of this on others they often fail to get it. Empathy will guide a counsellor to listen rather than talk, because one of the symptoms of people in trouble or under stress is that they are sometimes unable to take the needs and attitudes of others into account. A well person, acting in a counselling role, can understand this characteristic in the counsellee and compensate for it by active listening. Few people being counselled show any interest in the needs of the counsellor. Yet both are humans and have their own needs. A gauge of wellness in a counsellee is a return to a more empathetic state.

Don't put too much credence into your "IQ" level. When the Intelligence Quotient scale was invented in the 60's, it was based on only two areas, mathematics and verbal/linguistic. Today's intelligence tests cover a far wider spectrum, and people who previously scored low can now score high if their talents are in different fields. So you may be intelligent after all! It is however possible to be inept and intelligent. It is now possible to take an EQ test (Emotional Quotient) at EQ, and take on-line courses there to improve your EQ, which may serve you better. I have met people of great intelligence who are unable to deal with the simple problems of life or progress in the world of business - though they could do well as a academics. Sometimes this is due to a lack of empathy, but it is also a reminder that intelligence is not necessarily a prerequisite to success in certain fields.

Making mistakes is not ineptitude. Quoting from Douglas Cardinal, architect of the Canadian Museum of Civilization: "You have to learn to deal with human error in a positive way. You realize after a while that the people who make mistakes are the people doing things. They have to be brave. You realize you have to have tremendous faith in other people's skills."

Most people have something they are good at, if they dig deeply enough. It is not necessarily what they or their parents or teachers had in mind. Vocational training is available from professional counsellors. But the subject also must have an open mind. For example, many would make good in a sales environment, but have a fixation that they would hate selling, even though they have never received any sales training. Someone inept in one field should be looking for other areas in which they could actually excell. It's a tragedy that such a high proportion of people are doing jobs they hate. No wonder they are inept. Take a look at what's out there, or at least check up on some basic things that could be holding you up. The role of men in our society is changing, but to what? Women have found a new image as they take ever more prominence in the working world. For men, what is macho today? The very word is dated. Yet their predicament is very real, and only adds to the difficulties of finding out what their talents are and what direction their lives should take.

Happiness has little to do with success. In his wonderful manual for happiness in this world, "Why all you ever wanted isn't enough", Harold Kushner tell the story from Ecclesiastes of the man who succeeds successively in every field that life offers, but never gets the satisfaction that he longs for. In the end he finds happiness, but not through his worldly achievements. Recent research has attempted to show how much money is necessary to ensure happiness.

If you are subdued because the things the world calls "success" have eluded you, I commend the songs of the Australian folk singer Eric Bogle. His song "El Dorado" from the CD "Endangered Species" is spot on for you (and for me); however just about all of his songs will help you feel you are not alone and indeed may introduce you to another paradigm of happiness.

Despite all the hype to improve yourself, the human condition is that not everyone wins, cares or even tries. The trick is not to feel bad about this. The sheer joy of not giving a damn may yet prove your path to happiness, or at least a lower stress level. Your health will probably improve, and that could encourage some of your subliminal talents to break surface. God loves every single person equally, whether we are successful or not, skilled or not, productive or not. He gave out the talents. All he asks is that we use them. Marketplace evangelist Ed Silvoso relates a statement from a businessman: "All my life I strived to get to the top of the corporate ladder, and when I got there I realized it was leaning against the wrong wall."

Running on

The Peter Principle
Sermon: Success,
Happiness, Purpose
Ineptitude: the song

When in charge - ponder

When in trouble - delegate

When in doubt - mumble.

"It takes a lot less time, and most people
won't notice the difference until it's too late."

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