Two prerequisites of intellectual fame have been well recognized: the gift of extraordinary intelligence, and the luck of unusual circumstances (time, social class and so forth). I believe that a third factor – Temperament – has not been given given its due. At least in my limited observation of our currently depleted world, the temperamental factor seems least variable of all. Among people I have met, the few whom I would term “Great” all share a kind of unquestioned, fierce dedication; an utter lack of doubt about the value of their activities (or at least an internal impulse that drives through any such angst); and above all, a capacity to work (or at least to be mentally alert for unexpected insights) at every available moment of every day in their lives. I have known other people of equal or greater intellectual talent who succumbed to mental illness, self doubt, or plain old-fashioned laziness.
From Page 76, “The Lying Stones of Marrakech” (2000) by Paleontologist and Evolutionary biologist, the late Stephen Jay Gould. I found the paragraph powerful, powerful enough to cause introspection for a while.
Pointed out to me by my dear friend Riz.