I filed away this Farnam Street article and just now read it. It’s a great take on what made Charles Darwin such a transformational thinker.
In short, Darwin wasn’t gifted with an off-the-charts IQ. He was no Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. But he could focus intently on minute details and stick with an idea for a very long time. And he was relentless about fully considering any contrary evidence, any doubt or kernel of hesitation about his own ideas.
He clearly had what turned out to be a crucially valuable ability to sit with the discomfort of not knowing, of probing deeply into how he might be wrong.
Most of us are inclined to be content with our own opinions and never entertain contrary viewpoints. Blissful ignorance is a thing.
So much of current public discourse makes no pretense of genuinely trying to understand the opposing view.
Criticism is painful to absorb, and I know I don’t seek it out.
But Darwin squarely faced any sign that he might be in error. And with diligence and vigilance he sought to test and to prove and to meticulously weigh every argument that challenged his thesis.
He could have published his landmark theory many years earlier than he did, but instead he patiently pursued the long game to be certain his idea had the full weight of the most compelling evidence.
Talent tends to be overrated. Raw intellectual horsepower is a wonderful gift. But it is effort and persistence and a willingness to trudge through adversity and obstacles that just might vault you into a level of accomplishment that mere talent alone will not.