So this book “What the Dog Saw” has taught me very profound things…and I want to share a new one today.
According to the book, there are two kinds of people in the world, well, to put it loosely: protégés and late bloomers. Protégés are young and do their best work pretty soon after they start out. They are the child geniuses…the Beethovens and Pablo Picassos of this world. They don’t seem to struggle and hassle so much to be stars; to be excellent. Most people describe the proteges’ work as effortless.
The late bloomers, as you can already tell, bloom late. They do other things first, and then realize that they want to pursue something else. They try and fail and try again several times. Their first works are usually mediocre, and most of them are known for their later works. Their prowess increases over time because they learn later and succeed later in life. Cezanne, the French artist, was one such person. His latest works were the most famous because he had finally mastered his art.
Which would you rather be?
I’ve always wished that I was a protégé. I’d have begun these great works early in life, been successful by now, been loving what I do and been great at it already. Now I’d just be saving for retirement or something (well, I am already contributing to the NSSF monthly, but that’s not what I mean).
After reading this essay, however, I’m not so sure that that would have been the best path for me. I would have taken a lot of my success and gifting for granted. I would probably have taken a lot of the learning process that life brings for granted. I may have been a success but would I have been wise?
Being a late bloomer is harder. You try a lot of things before you figure out what it is that you really want. Sometimes you know what you want to do but getting there takes longer because you need to learn so much to get there. If you decide to change your career you have to take a pay cut, have to get sponsors to support you financially, have to deal with a lot of disapproval, you get the point.
The idea of having your best work later in life however has a certain appeal for me. It shows that I tried, I honed, I worked, I achieved. It shows that I pursued my dream against many odds. It’s difficult, I know, but somehow, it makes saying veni, vidi, vici so much more meaningful: I came, I saw, I conquered.
A part of me still wishes I had been a protégé, but since I wasn’t, I’m appreciating what late bloomers go through to get where they eventually get to: a sort of refining. I can work with that 🙂