Society has taught us to measure intelligence based on specific skills.
Have you ever felt like a fish trying to climb a tree? What would happen if you used your abilities to swim instead of climbing?
From school, we think that the most brilliant students are the ones who have the best grades. Nevertheless, we all can succeed. There is a famous quote that says: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
So, what happens when you measure your intelligence only following specific skills? You’ll feel that everyone else is leaving you behind. If you don’t have a particular talent, that doesn’t mean you are destined for failure. What needs to change is your perspective.
A charismatic drawing shows seven animals showing up for a job interview: A bird, a monkey, a penguin, an elephant, a fish, a seal, and a dog. The recruiter, sitting behind his desk, asks all the applicants to complete a “fair” task. He says, “To be fair with the selection, all of you must present the same exam: Please climb the tree.”
While the monkey smiles confidently, the other animals seem concerned, especially the fish, who watches everything from a fishbowl and can’t even walk. The clever draw shows a painful truth: Most of the time, we are judged by the abilities that we don’t have.
If it was a swimming competition, there’s no doubt that the fish would have won. Or, if there were a competition of who could reach the highest tree, the bird would have reached the top faster than the monkey and the other animals. The message is clear: Everyone has their abilities; we just need to be in the right place.
You’ll feel frustrated if you spend most of your life trying to gain abilities that don’t fit you. Even though it’s positive to try new things and have the drive to want to learn something new, it’s also crucial to work on the things that we are good at. When we master the abilities we are born with, we feel more confident and develop resilience more easily.
Even if your talents are not socially seen as the ideal way to succeed, it all depends on what you do with them. Maybe you are good at something that you don’t think it’s unique or extraordinary. Nevertheless, this world needs all kinds of people and all kinds of abilities.
From being able to make people laugh to having exceptional cooking skills, our talent doesn’t define our success; our failure does. If the fish could understand that from the beginning, that work wasn’t meant for them, it would be easier to move on and grow their swimming skills.
Life is about finding renewed strength to go further and surpass the work we have done so far. As if we were climbing a mountain, the purpose is not to reach the top but enjoy the journey. Instead of looking at the climbers that are ahead, perhaps we should stop for a moment, turn our heads, look down and be amazed at how far we have already come. Have I climbed from down there?