The Have/Lack: A Diagnosis of People

One thing that I want you all to do when you’re reading my essays is to take everything I say with a grain of salt. I fear that sometimes I can sound arrogant or cocky because when I talk about my experiences I seem like a scholar or a wise person when in reality I am 18 years old and naive. So for this essay, all past essays, and all future essays please continue to remind yourself that I am aware of my inexperience and I am writing these things down for two reasons. First, it is because I like writing and I am trying to get better at it and I can do this by writing more. Second, I do this because there are no other blogs that I know of that talk frankly about life as an 18-year-old. If you find one, send it my way, but I have looked.

Okay, enough with the preamble. Let’s get into it.

Today, let’s talk about one thing I have found to be the case in every person I met my age: strengths = weakness.


What do I mean by this? In my observation, each person my age who has been important to me has a superpower. This superpower is what makes them who they are. This superpower will also be their downfall. People who turn out to be successful do three things. First, they name their superpower. Second, they minimize the problems that accompany each superpower. Third, they strengthen their superpower.


Here are the most common superpowers: intelligence, hard work, strategy, creativity, love, and charisma. Each of these is valuable, and yet each of these prevents us from becoming successful. The difference between a 50-year old whose life has value and a 50-year old whose life has little value is their ability to name their superpower, minimize the problems, and strengthen the power.


Let’s meet the intelligent person. Let’s call him Joe – name changed. J for short. J is a smart kid. He rarely needs to study. He knows a ton of information. He can get a 1500 plus SAT with barely studying. He is the top of his class. However, because of his intelligence, he inherently struggles in another skill set. Because he is smart and has a capacity to do things quicker than others in school, he often struggles with the hard-work superpower or the creativity superpower. 


Hard worker? Let’s call her Caitlyn because that is who I have in my mind when I think of this person. Caitlyn went to my school and was class president, and constantly worked far harder than peers. This hard work manifested itself in reading every single reading, regardless of whether it was important. She worked needlessly hard to achieve the same or worse results as her peers because rarely do hard work and intelligence meet. Caitlyns also lack in creativity and strategy, because they have no strategy other than doing the tasks society gives them, regardless of how menial they may be.


Strategy. Let’s call this person Smith – name changed. The strategy person is super good at gaming the system. They have a plan for doing the minimum to get the best result. This skill can sometimes be found with the intelligence skills but rarely is it found with the hard work skill or the love skill. They rarely do things out of the good of their heart or because they have a passion and mostly because they are focused on what is next for themselves. While they may be financially secure, these poeople are rarely happy or doing important work. They aspire to punch the clock at Goldman.


Creativity is an art student. They are super creative and can think of wonderful things few of us can imagine. Yet because they work in fantasy and speculation, they often lack the hard work, intelligence, or strategy it takes to follow through on their ideas. They love to think and ponder, but when deadlines hit or something tangible needs to be done, don’t count on them.


Next is love. These people do things for the right reasons. They care deeply about causes. They seek out important work. However, many of these students lack intelligence. They love people. They are good people. They aren’t fake, they are nice, loving people. And because of this, they don’t always have the strategic intelligence to make something happen. It’s a dog eat dog world, and these people, while you want them on your team, are not the ones with the creativity, intelligence or strategy to lead important work. They are the volunteers, not the catalysts for change.


Lastly, it is charisma. This is what I am afraid I am. These people can go far by sweet-talking, kissing up, and getting what they want through theatrics. It can be a lot of smoke and mirrors. They can easily get people to follow them, but once they have them they can lack the hard work or the true passion for the work – love. They can skate by instead of actually creating value. More darkly, they can be a poison to the people who are full of love. They can mislead them because their charisma can be alluring. If you have read Glass Castle – one of my favorite books ever – the dad in this book is very charismatic. Because of this charisma, he gets away with his abusive parenting. People who are charismatic are able to abuse people who are important to them by treating them poorly and then making up for it through their charisma. Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos was able to use her charisma to deceive people. This can be a death sentence for a leader, or someone in a relationship. This I need to work on – among other things.


This is just what I have found. I drew a little picture for you if you are confused.

Skill you have⇨ Intelligence Hard work Strategy Creativity Love Charisma
Skill you have/lack⇩
Intelligence Have Lack Have Lack Lack Lack
Hard work Lack Have   Lack Lack Lack
Strategy Lack Lack Have Lack Lack Have
Creativity Lack Lack Lack Have
Love Have Lack Have Have Lack
Charisma Lack   Have Have Have


2 thoughts on “The Have/Lack: A Diagnosis of People

  1. Hank. Some very interesting insights that spark my curiosity and would love to discuss further with you when you visit in early September – said with lots of love!

    Yes you are charismatic, but, that is not enough to start/run Cards Cooks, memorize MLK’s “I have a dream speech” when you were 5 and definitely not enough to get you into to U of C.

    Take your thoughts about yourself many steps further because they are much more than what you’ve written (for the good!)


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