The topic of nature vs nurture proves to be a surprisingly emotive subject whenever it arises! Most of us that have ever given any thought to it have a personal view on this. In this article we’re going to briefly explore this topic and I’ll share my own experiences to date.
I was prompted to write this blog by a BBC article featuring the Bothams. Many will know Sir Ian Botham as the English cricketing legend. Not so commonly known is that Sir Ian also played football for Scunthorpe United during the cricketing off-season for a time.
Sir Ian’s son Liam also played professional sport, beginning with professional cricket before transitioning to rugby union and then rugby league. It shouldn’t come a surprise then, that the next generation of the Bothams has broken into professional sport once more in the shape of Liam Botham’s son James, who recently signed for Cardiff Blues (pro rugby).
The question that intrigues me is, are these men simply born with sporting gifts and talents, or are they developed through hard work, determination and hours of practice? Or both?
In many walks of life, the future is predicted by events of the past. Trends are analysed, anomalies examined, and predictions are made. The financial market is a prime example of this, as is insurance.
Yet, is this the right approach for people? Should we expect the children of all sporting legends to become stars in their own right? Or the children of successful actors to be themselves, talented performers?
If they proven to be gifted, is this the result of genetics, or access to opportunity? Or, is it simply that to excel, and to perform at the highest level is seen as natural, rather than exceptional? If so, this would prompt an internal expectation of excellence for oneself.
I can’t help but be reminded that it was once thought impossible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. However, when Roger Bannister famously broke through this barrier, a slew of other athletes followed suit. It had, in some ways, broken the spell and created a new normal.
With this in mind, seeing what is possible by others can be a forceful motivator. If one is the child of ‘blue collar’ workers, who themselves had followed in the steps of their parents, can they be anything other than the same? Of course!
If aspiring children didn’t make the transition into the professions, for example, we’d have an extremely limited talent pool. Life is full of families celebrating the first of many kinds, such as first to go to university, first to gain a PhD or first to become a barrister, musician, artist or scientist.
Most of these firsts do not happen by accident. A great deal of planning, determination and sacrifice goes into breaking the mould.
However, it has proved to be possible again and again and for my part, I’m delighted to be able to play a part. While natural talent is indeed a gift, I truly believe that for those awakened to the opportunities, nurtured and prepared to work hard to achieve their goals, anything is possible.
Nature Vs Nurture is a discussion that will likely rumble on for some time. For me though, I like to believe that nurture wins the day.