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How a Failed Farmer Changed the World

First he tried to coax a living from the soil. He wound up coaxing secrets from the universe.
This is the story of Isaac Newton, whose mother aimed to make him a farmer.
It didn’t work. Thank goodness.
Being sent to the farm was only one of the many trials Newton had to survive on his way to greatness. He was born prematurely, barely made it through his first week of life, was given away by his mother at one point, was bullied at school and wrestled with this background for the rest of his life.
Along the way, however, he made some of the most significant discoveries in the history of science.
The obvious question is how some people manage to turn their anger and sorrow into something constructive.
After all, adversity does different things to different people. Some individuals stop trying, others lash out (as Newton himself was known to do), others fall into drugs.
Which brings us to the second question: As people who hire, how can we possibly know which person will fight when challenged, and which one will give up? It’s a vital question for anyone in the workplace, because there will always be adversity.
“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people,” Newton said.
This quote tells us that adversity was on his mind, but it offers no insight into how Newton was able to turn his pain into progress.
A bit of a clue comes from his reply to being asked how he discovered the law of gravity.
“By thinking about it all the time,” he said.
Three centuries later, a writer named Earl Nightingale would echo Newton in a book called “The Strangest Secret.” Here’s what Nightingale said: “We become what we think about.”
Of course, we can’t read what people are thinking about. But careful attention to those who march to a different drummer can sometimes reveal a hidden gem.


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