The founder of neuroscience identified six psychological flaws that stopped talented people achieving greatness

We all like to think that we are talented enough to make a major impact on the world.

However, for whatever reason, no matter how intelligent or capable someone is they don’t always get that big break.

Many people put it down to bad luck or not being in the right place at the right time, but there could be a scientific reason behind that lack of success.

Santiago Ramon y Cajal, widely considered the father of neuroscience, attempted to explore the psychological boundaries that prevented talented people from excelling in life.

In his 1897 book, Advice for a Young Investigator, the Spanish Pathologist detailed six different factors which restrain an individual’s talents, which he called ‘diseases of the will.’

1. Contemplators

First he details, contemplators. These people like to study the qualities of their chosen field and even master them but never feel any real need to apply them to a new situation.

[Contemplators] love the study of nature but only for its aesthetic qualities — the sublime spectacles, the beautiful forms, the splendid colors, and the graceful structures.

He adds.

[Contemplators] are as likable for their juvenile enthusiasm and piquant and winning speech as they are ineffective in making any real scientific progress.

Therefore, even if you are a master of your craft, its no good unless you are taking it in a unique or progressive direction.


2. Bibliophiles and Polyglots

Now those are two words which aren’t too common anymore but can be easily defined as knowledge hoarding. 

Absorbing tonnes of facts and figures about a variety of subjects might help you in a pub quiz, but this vain pursuit will not help you if you only want to project your knowledge.

Cajal explains.

Discussing everything — squandering and misusing their keen intellects — these indolent men of science ignore a very simple and very human fact… They seem only vaguely aware at best of the well-known platitude that erudition has very little value…

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