Sunday, February 08, 2009

Resilience, then comments on life from my Mom

"I'm not convinced that all the recipients possess remarkable intellectual talents. I am certain, though, that every one has demonstrated the power to persevere."

Resilience is an incredibly useful ability or attribute. Like integrity, it is a matter of training as much as it is of aptitude and inherent attitude. Emotional/social intelligence and resilience are the two most important attributes or characteristics in finding success. Interestingly enough, they are two things badly hampered by ADD and Asperger Syndrome. Further, both are culturally influenced, good social and emotional intelligence in one setting will not always transfer into another.

If you've ever wondered why gpa and lsat scores (for example, both indicators of academic and regular intelligence) actually over predict the success of black law students (meaning that if you have a black and a white student with the same gpa/lsat indicators, the white student will perform significantly better), the cultural differences are the key. How important parts of emotional and social intelligence are came home to me when studying some parts of legal education on a project.

But if you can teach your children something, rather than tutoring them in math, or music lessons or any of the other myriads of things out there, if you can help them learn social and emotional intelligence/skills, and help them gain resilience, you've taught them the key to succeeding in life.

Now for my mother's comments. When she was in Saudia, she would meet people who would state that they were doing something extravagant and then they would state "but I deserve it." She finally found herself saying "It isn't that you deserve it, it is that you can afford it." Material things are not the result of some virtue or moral entitlement, they are merely a matter of financial success.

Certainly where she and the others were they had had to work very hard, sacrifice and continue in perseverance, but she had known a large number of people who had done all those things and not made money. She felt that money and moral entitlement were two different things. It was interesting to hear her talk.

Later, I knew a friend's son, who became very uncertain about life as a result of the charitable work his surgeon father had embroiled him in. Time after time he met people who were smarter than he was, physically more capable, and who worked very, very, very hard and who were very poor. He began to worry about what would become of him if that was what had become of them.

But he had realized the disconnect between mere hard work, mere intelligence and success.

Need I say that developing social and emotional intelligence, applied in the right circumstances, resolved his issues. The last time I saw him I would say that by any standard you can think of, almost everyone would consider him a success. I know I was pleased.

Will we need resilience? I think we will, everyone.

And, returning to my "did God really mean that" series:

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.