Variable Human Traits


Individuals have billions of settings and specifications–all set at birth then tweaked through environment.

Specifications (Specs) are the physical and mental capabilities that can frequently be changed through deliberate action like exercise. Physical dimensions are mostly set through genetic programming, but even height can be adjusted through a small range using an inversion table. Other specs, like weight and strength, can be hugely adjusted through personal action.

Settings are mostly our preferences and dislikes: tastes, activities, fears, and so on. Why am I so passionate about flying? Or controlling craft (like paramotors) in a fluid medium? Or how people learn to operate machines (human factors)? or learn anything?

For example, I like to write but most don’t. I don’t like many vegetables. All these preferences come in degrees and direction. I dislike broccoli (dislike is the direction) a lot (the degree).

I like flying a lot. I generally dislike shopping. Others like it. I dislike working on engines yet I can spend hours in front of a computer building graphics, or laying out a book. For most humans that type of tedium would drive them nuts. I like computer programming. Really? What’s up with that?

Many of these things change or become exposed through experiences. Writing is a great example. Prior to paramotor and the wide availability of web stuff I had no interest in writing. It seemed like something that, well, writers did. Then I found something I was passionate about, and the medium to express was there, so I expressed.

Talents are another specification. I think of talent as an inherent ability to learn something. Flying came reasonably easy, but not so programming. I really LIKE programming but it doesn’t come easily–I have to work at it pretty hard. I’ve worked with really smart programmers so it’s not a humble things. I watched what it was like for a really smart guy to work on the same problem as me.

Tenacity is a super important setting. While I don’t have a lot of inherent talent at some things I enjoy (like programming) I do seem to have the tenacity to see them through to completion. Music is a great example. I definitely don’t have much talent, I am willing to spend a fair amount of time learning a song through repetition. A completed project looks no different if it took 5 times longer to complete. I may take 5 weeks to write a piece of software that does the job that a smarter programmer could do in a week. But if he quit after 6 days guess who wins?

This concept helps propel me to pursue areas that should rightfully be considered beyond my abilities. That’s true of many things because either I don’t have the means or I don’t have the tenacity to pull it off. But it opens a lot of doors knowing how much can be done even without significant natural abilities.

We can do more than we think.