Success, Achievement, and Potential - All Important for High Caliber Think Tank Members

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A few years back, I remember getting several emails from potential think tank members about our membership questionnaire.
Apparently, it was rubbing people the wrong way.
The general and most common gripe was that it focused too much on PhD level research, free-market achievement, leadership and personal success.
You see, I am the coordinator for a think tank and I am in charge of reviewing all the applications - believe me it's not an easy job especially considering our rates of acceptance are like 1 in 250 applications.
It's a lot of work.
Okay so, let's talk.
One gentleman noted that the forms potential members fill out "are directed towards past achievements," and that they don't focus much on the potential of an individual to come up with future ideas and original thoughts.
Okay this makes sense from that individuals perspective, so should the application have a different set of additional questions such as; 1.
) Do you feel you have the ability to come up with original thoughts - future ideas? 2.
) Do you believe that those who've achieved are less or more capable of spotting potential future ideas? 3.
) Do you think that unachieved people are more likely to come up with or spot future ideas? If they did, do they have the capacity to do anything about it? 4.
) Do you believe that past performance is a strong indicator of future success? Some might content that prior "achievement alone" should not necessarily have anything to do with future potential, or knowing who will have the most potential.
Maybe, however I would submit that achievement would be a good indication that one has shown potential in the past, thus, proof of that capability.
Whereas, no achievement proves nothing either positive or negative, it just allows the question to evade answer.
In explaining all this repetitiously to yet several more applicants one had looked at my own work history and stated; "You yourself know what it is to have achieved something, but does it make you less capable of thinking outside of the paths you previously walked on? Well, that's a good point isn't it? Sure, so let's quickly discuss it.
You see, in my personal case, it would render a poor example, because much of my achievement has been combining nuance, with past experience, after seeking, asking questions, and searching for undiscovered moves in any realm available.
So, in my case, personally, I am not "less capable of thinking outside the box" of my past observations and experiences, for that is all I ever seek to add to the storyline.
Can you give an example using someone else? Still, I am again challenged by an applicant with another decent point of contention; "It might be more that achievement makes you want to hold to that success rather than change the formula.
" Indeed, well there is a branch of psychology which postulates that people learn from the successes and not so much from their mistakes, that they will double-down so to speak on a mistake, but add caution as the success grows, all the while learning about the successes and watching those closest, borrowing moves and insight to use that same play again.
Now then, in following this line of questioning the applicant makes another decent point, a very relevant one, where he notes a truism of human nature, especially self-employed entrepreneurs; "A newly successful businessman would not want to leave his company to start a new one.
A researcher with a breakthrough would not try to cross another area where he is not an expert.
There are of course exceptions.
" Right, he's absolutely correct on that, it's the most common reality.
Yes, but then again he noted there are exceptions.
Indeed, there are, that's why I stated that I don't fit the question, thus, would give a false indication of the average mean of psychological probability in this realm of achievement and spotting potential.
Further he notes that we, all of us, are more often than not tied to our jobs, titles, successes, and areas of endeavor.
Okay, but are we really tied or is it a choice for a comfort zone? If one is comfortable let's say never leading, never achieving, or never conquering - then chances are they wouldn't care to or work to in the future based on what the philosophical argument that past success is not a decent predictor of future potential right? I mean really this is a circular argument, one often surmised by academics, who do most likely fit the very mold they themselves study, perhaps allowing them to justify that cardboard box they've chosen to park their minds.
I hope you've enjoyed today's discussion on the philosophy of think tank member requirements?
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