Change – I have always believed that the definition of intelligence, as the quality of those beings who know how to change in order to survive, could not be questioned. I’ve gotten used to seeing it this way ever since, as a middle school boy, I first approached evolutionary theories.

Today, I must admit, things no longer seem so obvious to me. I have not changed my opinion, only I have found that many around me think diametrically opposite. For many people, being smart means doing everything possible not to change the status quo: the famous “team that wins you don’t change”.

Some animals, to defend themselves, save themselves from danger or simply overcome a moment of stress, resort to the trick of pretending to be dead. They trust that their opponent thinking of death from disease or poisoning will give up turning them into prey. They wait, delegating their chances of survival to the stupidity of their opponents. Well, they are justified, their opponents are often really stupid.

Per noi le cose sono diverse, le difficoltà che incontriamo hanno una dose intrinseca di intelligenza che spesso ci supera (altrimenti queste difficoltà le vedremmo arrivare da lontano e riusciremmo a evitarle con facilità). Le difficoltà (che siano situazioni o persone poco conta) ci colpiscono nei punti di debolezza, nelle cose per le quali non abbiamo doti o talenti naturali (chè altrimenti non le percepiremmo come difficoltà). Questo fenomeno ha indotto nella nostra cultura un atteggiamento che mi provoca un fastido tremendo: cresciamo con la convinzione che per ottenere il successo ci si debba concentrare sul risolvere i propri difetti. In pratica ci viene chiesto di cambiare quelle cose per le quali cambiare è più difficile, spesso con il risultato che non cambiamo nulla.

Of course, working on one’s areas of weakness is important and should be part of the routine of all our activities. But I think 20 minutes a day is enough.

How many of you can spend a whole day thinking about your defects without acquiring a terrible and depressing mood? Our “mood” is always a good indicator of how our performances will be: do I feel bad? I’ll suck.

I have always argued that it is much more important to leverage one’s talents. If we work trying to put our talents to good use, change becomes something automatic, pleasant, desired.

The mood becomes positive, we have fun and feel we can make a difference. We must not delegate our fate to others. I also think that what we do, if we do it well, is worth doing more for others than for ourselves. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these others. Do you think they would rather know that what we do for them we do by trying to correct our shortcomings or making use of what we are led to do.

And if we continue to learn new things and use our talents to leverage these new skills, well, we may even end up becoming useful. Try to think of some famous successful entrepreneur and ask yourself if you really think that he spends his time correcting his own defects, listening to collaborators who have obvious defects to correct. By analogy, think of a company with two markets, one in which it manages to sell and one where every sales call is a punch in the face: what percentage of time should it spend on each of the two markets?