Everybody should be searching for resilience, and hardly anyone does. Being able to bounce back from adversity is crucial in just about every field I examined. You need resilience to be a great CEO, a great teacher, soldier, investor, etc., etc. But when we hire, we’re taught to regard setbacks — regardless of what came next — as flaws in a candidate. So when we prepare our own resumes, we hide our stumbles. That’s wrong! We should cherish people who have extricated themselves from trouble in the past.
I was especially intrigued by your idea of the “jagged resume” Steve Jobs is a perfect example. Both in the 1970s and the 1990s, his life was a wild blend of great strengths and apparent failures. He had this awesome imagination, persuasiveness, ambition and design aesthetic. But he was a college dropout who later got forced out of one company (Apple) and couldn’t make a success of another (NeXT.) You could come up with lots of reasons why his resume was too erratic — too jagged — to make him a good bet. But to appreciate someone like that, you need to see why his strengths matter so much, and why his apparent flaws aren’t important.
You also write about “talent that whispers” — and why it’s sometimes undervalued. Every year or two, a future All-Star sits unclaimed. Mike Piazza, the great catcher, was a 62nd round pick. Weird but true. Especially when you’re dealing with young, unproven people, some candidates show just a glimmer of promise. Their talent whispers. Don’t scoff at them. Look to open the door, just a crack, so that when long shots come of age, they’re more likely to be working for you than for the competition.
If you want to be extraordinary, restlessness is a virtue. It’s also a great traveling companion for resilience; if you can combine the two of them, your chances of finding society’s greatest opportunities in any particular decade are huge. Hang out with people just as driven and passionate as you. The great hotbeds of talent are self-sustaining because competitive internal friendships guide rapid progress. When in doubt, come back to autonomy, mastery and purpose. Those are keepers!
Good points highlighted in dark!