You can do anything you put your mind to

August 4, 2013 at 12:44 PMMichele Mottini

..no, you can’t.

You have no control over your genes. If you are not tall, not fast and not well-coordinated you’ll never be even an half-decent basketball player (believe me – I tried that) – you can put your mind to the NBA (or even to a starting position in an amateur team) as much as you want, but ain’t going to happen.

You have no control over where and when you are born. It makes a lot of difference if you are the son of two Russian academics living in Russia or the son of two Russian academics that emigrated to the US. In the first case you can put your mind to your Internet venture idea as much as you can, but Google ain’t going to happen.

You have a maximum amount of time and energy to spend on the pursuit of your dreams. If you are gifted in math and music (lucky you!) you’ll have to choose, you won’t be able to become a math professor AND a concert pianist – regardless of how much you put your mind to both.

Chance plays a big parts in your life. There is a big difference if out of college you go to work for a company in a growing industry or in an industry that is dying – and where you end up depends on any number of irrelevant and random things. Once you are in the bad place putting your mind to improving your career would not do even nearly as good as in the good place.

Having said that, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to’ has definitely a better ring that ‘you should asses what you can realistically do given your innate abilities, birthplace and family, and then wisely invest your time and energy to achieve what you like most – or dislike the least – of the possible achievable choices’.

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