I was delighted to be invited by my good friend Professor Adrian Furnham to the launch party of his new book High Potential along with Kate Griffiths Lambeth. High Potential is Adrian’s 78th book, co-written with rising star Ian Macrae. The book is a superb compendium of practical ideas about psychology at work, written in an engaging style without all the usual jargon that the so-called professionals like to use to befuddle and ensnare us.
The conversation and company were great and Kate and I shared some thoughts about the dark side of life afterwards over some warm beer.
On Twitter and Relationships
Twitter is a massive “Johari Window”, where people crash into each others lives, loves, hopes and fears in just 140 characters. But, out of this chaotic and complex series of exchanges come a few genuine friendships and connections. Amongst the people I am glad to know, like and trust that I would not know without Twitter are Trevor Lee, Kate GL, Mervyn Dinnen, David D’Souza, Andrew Sentance, Meg Peppin, Doug Shaw to name but a few, so Twitter works. However, misunderstandings are the norm on Twitter and I always make a point of meeting people who interest me using more traditional means, such as a cup of tea and a proper dialogue. So 140 characters only take me to the point of “Knowing me, Knowing you, aha” and one needs more than this to create a proper relationship. More a case of “Text and Drugs and Rock and Roll” … :-)
On High Potential
One of the fascinating conversations we held with Adrian and Ian Macrae was on the impact of loss on high potential. Adrian, Ian and myself share the loss of a parent at an early age and it certainly affected our drive and determination. But the issue is complex and Ian gave personal witness to his own example, where he and his brother reacted quite differently to the loss. This neatly explains why some people lose something precious early on in life and “stay in a ditch” whereas others decide to “get out of the ditch”. Entrepreneurs such as Michelle Mone, inventor of the Ultimo Bra, points to early hardship as a spur to her success, but the relationship is complex and it does not necessarily work the other way, i.e. treat your kids badly to make them into leaders, as one of my MBA students once suggested !! :-)
On The X-Factor
Adrian eloquently explained the problem that can arise when confidence exceeds talent, using the X-Factor as a superb illustration. High Potential explores the ‘dark side of personality’ and Adrian used Steve Jobs as an example of someone with a number of unappealing traits but who was saved by his unique vision and his ability to almost always make great decisions. The substitution of confidence for talent is also a potentially dangerous cocktail … Just witness this demonstration of mutually assisted narcissism on the X-Factor: Adrian ironically pointed out that Bloomsbury had made a great choice in commissioning the book, having also spotted the talent that is J.K. Rowling. In this context, I was reminded of this simply great piece of popular psychology about the difference between talents and choices from Harry Potter:
Thanks for a superb evening of intelligent conversation, insight and inspiration.
About the Blogger: Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock - Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics - Business and organisation development, training and coaching. Contact via firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 7725 927585.