We’ve made it! Today’s episode marks the 100th episode of Relationship Helpers and we’re so glad you’ve dropped by— whether it’s your first time listening or the 100th!
Our goal is to offer helpful marriage, parenting and mental health tips through what we’ve learned as therapists. Be sure to check out our other episodes as we are taking a break after this episode. We will continue to have our podcast/blog library open for you.
Our decision to take a break after 100 consecutive weeks has influenced today’s topic: getting unstuck. Recently, we read the book “Late Bloomers” by Rich Karlgaard. It changed the way we look at how we spend our time and how we view our futures.
If you’re feeling like a muddy wheel caught in a slippery rut, read (listen) on! Have you felt like you have been “living a label?” Have you felt defined by a test score from decades ago? Are you missing a framed piece of paper from your wall? Or do you regret getting the degree that you did get?
Maybe we’ve been looking at our priorities wrong. Maybe our culture has created “rules” of what we are expected to do with our lives that really aren’t necessary.
Assembly Line Education?
“Late Bloomers” is a fascinating read. In it you learn that our educational system has basically been “mechanized” through the influence of Henry Ford’s mass production concept of the assembly line. The IQ test, created by Lewis Terman, was intended to measure a person’s aptitude at the present moment and was actually used for placement in the military. Whereas these days an IQ test score can be wrongly used to ascertain a person’s long-term aptitude.
Children hear a bell and they enter the work room (I mean classroom.) A student is given a test score and it is supposed to speak to that child’s abilities.
School was basically “industrialized” in the twentieth century and test scores were a means to determine where someone should go in life. Notice how far we’ve come from the original intent.
Laura’s Disappointing IQ Test
Laura tells about her experience in middle school not measuring up. She desperately wanted to be a part of the AG program. She remembers vividly how the students in the program talked about the AG class and the creative activities that they participated in. She wanted to be a part of that. Her teacher recommended that she be tested for the program.
Hello, IQ test! More like, “Hello, some strange psychologist man” who asks Laura to perform random tasks and asks odd questions. From the moment she walked into the small, library conference room a lump permanently lodged in her throat as she fought back tears to complete the test. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. If anything, the test should have been a measure of anxiety, if nothing else.
She didn’t make the cut. Fortunately, she was involved in other pursuits that influenced her for a lifetime and she’s able to see how these activities influenced her to become the therapist she is today. Music, writing, and theater have been a part of her learning experience and she sees how all of these have informed her work as a therapist.
That’s exactly how Rich Karlgaard, the author of “Late Bloomers” looks at his life. He puttered through the academic system yet he developed his interests in running through school. He was actually admitted into Stanford University after he ran a race in junior college. Due to a calculating error, he was admitted to an Ivy League school; his admittance wasn’t based on his efforts, but a mistake.
Early placement has become ridiculous. Demands on the ability to read have gone from early elementary students to now preschoolers having these skills. Some parents are seeking to get a leg up for their children by putting them on waiting lists for elite preschools long before their kids are of age.
A premium has been placed on raising the next Bill Gates. Bill Gates was what is called a “wunderkind.” As a teen he scored next to perfect on his SAT. He attended an Ivy League school, created Microsoft and is a multi-billionaire. Unfortunately, our “system” has been calibrated to pump out Wunderkinds. Considering the fact that he is in the extreme minority, this means our systems fails to foster individualism and the unique abilities that each person possesses.
Children are made to conform into a system that rewards high-level performance and often ignores their distinctive qualities. If they do not get the grade or the IQ score they do not fit into the system of high achievement.
How The Mighty Have Fallen
Rich Karlgaard describes two wunderkinds who shot to academic and career success: Jonah Lehrer and Elizabeth Holmes. Lehrer was a best-selling author and Holmes was headed towards being a leader in medical diagnostic testing. Both enjoyed years of praise and success. Both crumbled under the pressure of maintaining the facade of the wunderkind. They were frauds.
An expert on Bob Dylan discovered while reading Lehrer’s book on creativity that he was misquoting Bob Dylan which caused a cascade effect, nullifying all of Lehrer’s other books.
Holmes is now awaiting a criminal trial after her company Theranos, a company that purported it could use a drop of blood to run hundreds of lab tests, was discovered to be making a false claim.
Seeing the wunderkinds comeuppance does not help us “Late Bloomers.” It only serves as a cautionary tale of pressuring young people into the upper echelon of academic and career success.
What does help the “late bloomer?” Karlgaard calls it being “repotted.” Like a plant that is not thriving in its current state, a late bloomer needs change. This could mean a move, a change of your social circle, and/or a career change. The environment you are in may very well not be conducive to you using the gifts God gifted you.
Take careful consideration of the values of the people around you. Are you being influenced by others to be what you should not be? Do the people you spend time with have a “pecking order?” Are you staying stuck as some low man on the totem pole because you are afraid to upset the system? Do your friends minimize your abilities or work? Has your current situation become your comfort zone?
Our default is our comfort zone. Sometimes people stay in relationships not because they are meaningful, healthy ventures, but because they don’t want to have to try something that could make them grow. Growth means change and being intentional—that’s not easy.
Expertise In One Area?
Our culture has rewarded being “super-focused” on an area of expertise, this is how Bill Gates became so influential in the wunderkind phenomena. For most people, this is not practical or realistic. For some people, a career path looks more like a zig-zagging path where obstacles and dead-ends causes the person to find new outlets and paths. It is not an arrow-straight path from university to career success.
Don’t discount the passions you had as a child. Laura finds through working with her therapy clients that many people pooh-pooh the interests they had as a child once they grow up. The things that fascinated you then may very well hold a key into the gifts you were born with. You may need to broaden your concept of how you can use your gifts.
For instance, you may have been a pretty good artist as a child. That does not necessarily mean that you should be an illustrator or fine artist. It could mean, however, that you have a great eye for color and design and could be wonderful at any number of careers involving the elements of design—these could very well fall outside of the limiting scope of fine art. Architecture, interior decorating, teaching art, store window display staging, cosmetology, clothing design, furniture making, prosthetics, culinary arts, the list could go for miles. The point is this, don’t let someone pigeon hole you, especially you!