After physicist Richard Feynman won a Nobel prize for his work, he visited his old high
school. While there, he decided to look up his records. He was surprised to find that his
grades were not as good as he had remembered them. And he got a kick out of the fact that
his IQ was 124, not much above average. Dr. Feynman saw that winning the Nobel prize was
one thing, but to win it with an IQ of only 124 was really something. Most of us would
agree because we all assume that the winners of Nobel prizes have exceptionally high IQs.
Feynman confided that he always assumed that he had.
If Feynman had known he was really just a bit above average in the IQ department, we
wonder if he would have had the audacity to launch the unique and creative research
experiments that would eventually win him the greatest recognition the scientific
community can give.
Perhaps not. Maybe the knowledge that he was a cut above average, but not in the genius
category, would have influenced what he tried to achieve. After all, from childhood most
of us have been led to believe that ordinary people don't accomplish extraordinary feats.
Most of us fall short of our potential because of little things we know or assume about
ourselves. And the most self-defeating assumption of all is that we are just like everyone
Bits & Pieces, September 17, 1992, pp. 7-8.
It is not only a consecration of abilities that God wants, but of our inabilities also.
An invalid was told that she could never escape from her prison of pain and weakness.
"Oh, well," she replied quickly, "there's a lot of living to be found
within your limitations, if you don't wear yourself out fighting them." "Young
lady," the doctor replied, "I wish I could have you preach to about a hundred of
my patients a year." The lady was Helen Keller who said, "Face your deficiencies
and acknowledge them, but do not let them master you."
During his first year of graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley,
George B. Dantzig (later known as the father of linear programming) arrived late for a
statistics class. He saw two problems on the blackboard. Assuming they were homework, he
copied them and a few days later turned in his solutions. One Sunday morning six weeks
afterward, the professor appeared at Dantzig's door, waving a manuscript. It turned out
that the professor had merely written two examples of unsolvable problems on the
blackboard. The manuscript was Dantzig's work readied for publication.
Georgene Johnson got to the starting line 15 minutes early. The mistake cost her 20
miles and a pair of aching knees, but she said Monday she's happy with the outcome. The 42
year old secretary was slated to run in a 10-kilometer race Sunday. Instead, she
mistakenly joined about 4000 runners taking part in the Revco-Cleveland Marathon. Rather
than quit, she hung on to finish the 26 mile race. "As stupid as I felt out there
running, I'm proud of myself," Johnson said Monday in a telephone interview. "I
guess I was in better shape than I thought. I feel fine, although my knees are real sore
this morning." The 10-K (6.2 mile) race, was to start at 8:45 a.m., the marathon 15
minutes earlier. Both Revco-Cleveland races used the same starting line. Four miles down
the road, as the route left downtown and moved into residential areas, she said she
"got that sick feeling that possibly I was in the wrong race." Another runner
confirmed her suspicions. Johnson finished the marathon in 4:04, good enough for 83rd
place in the women's division. Her longest run previously was 8 miles.