I was delighted to be invited to Professor Adrian Furnham’s launch party for his new book High Potential. High Potential is Adrian's 78th book, co-written with rising star Ian Macrae. The book is a superb compendium of practical ideas about psychology at work, written in an engaging style without all the usual jargon that the so-called professionals like to use to befuddle and ensnare us.
The Impact of Loss on High Potential
One of the fascinating conversations we held with Adrian and Ian Macrae was on the impact of loss on high potential. Adrian, Ian and myself share the loss of a parent at an early age and it certainly affected our drive and determination. But the issue is complex and Ian gave personal witness to his own example, where he and his brother reacted quite differently to the loss. This neatly explains why some people lose something precious early on in life and "stay in a ditch" whereas others decide to "get out of the ditch". Entrepreneurs such as Michelle Mone, inventor of the Ultimo Bra, points to early hardship as a spur to her success, but the relationship is complex and it does not necessarily work the other way, i.e. treat your kids badly to make them into leaders, as one of my MBA students once suggested!! 🙂
On The X-Factor
Adrian eloquently explained the problem that can arise when confidence exceeds talent, using the X-Factor as a superb illustration. High Potential explores the 'dark side of personality' and Adrian used Steve Jobs as an example of someone with a number of unappealing traits but who was saved by his unique vision and his ability to almost always make great decisions. The substitution of confidence for talent is also a potentially dangerous cocktail … Just witness this demonstration of mutually assisted narcissism on the X-Factor:
Adrian ironically pointed out that Bloomsbury had made a great choice in commissioning the book, having also spotted the talent that is J.K. Rowling. In this context, I was reminded of this simply great piece of popular psychology about the difference between talents and choices from Harry Potter:
High Potential is a great book that goes well beyond the superficial rubbish that passes for psychology and leadership development these days.