I realize this post may delve into philosophies of men that are ancient and considered factually questionable. However, I have learned today of the concept of meritocracy.
Meritocracy is a system of a government or another organization wherein appointments are made and responsibilities are given based on demonstrated talent and ability (merit), rather than by wealth (plutocracy), family connections (nepotism), class privilege (oligarchy), cronyism, the will of the people (as in democracy) or other historical determinants of social position and political power. In a meritocracy, society rewards (by wealth, position, and social status) those who demonstrated talent and competence, demonstrated through past actions or by competition. (Source)
In essence, the achiever is rewarded for a history of competent performance.
Application in Modern Society
We all want to think that if we work hard, obey the rules and serve we will continue to be rewarded as we magnify performance. In most cases this occurs and usually tied with educational successes. The problem is that much of our western-style education system rewards endurance and regurgitation. This results in many instances is the greatest in endurance and retention being rewarded beyond their true abilities. (Personal opinion here – I work in the one of the greatest concentrations of leaders and thinkers in the world among those who are truly ‘Greats’ where this does not apply.)
The real difficulty is that measuring performance can be very subjective and manipulated. Examining the aggregate of someone’s actions, or focusing on single instances is the natural tendency when considering performance. Additionally, rewards (or the lack thereof) is difficult to correlate with performance. Once a reward is given this does not necessarily guarantee that performance will continue or the reward remains appropriate. As a result talent wanes, innovation decreases, and the effects of chaos render the once bright star either supernova or implode.
A Giant’s Shoulders
Some talent is innate. Others develop skills with amazing ease. Still others shine in the fishbowls of mediocrity. Regardless of the outcome the stars glisten, glow or otherwise extend their influence. When this talent is found in any of its forms it should be nurtured, fostered, and developed. One does not stumble across a golden nugget in a stream and simply kick it along the shoreline. When talent and potential is discovered it is picked up, placed in realms where growth and hardships refine the raw material and allow it to suffer in the furnace of adversity. At some point this golden nugget is refined, shaped and crafted in to priceless works admired for generations.
If our desire is to become a talented work it behooves us to seek out adversity. We examine our conditions and delve into growth opportunities. We allow the pressures and adverse conditions around us to shape our present and define our future. If ours is to stumble across talent we push it, shape it, bend it and strengthen it to become the work to be admired. A crafted human bears the mark of its creators.