I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how certain characteristics–like intelligence, artistic talent, and athleticism–are often understood to be inborn, innate, or natural.  If intelligence, for example, is believed to be inborn, the idea that people can nurture their intelligence and get smarter can get lost.  In which case, it might seem to be a fool’s errand to work to become better at things in which we don’t believe we are naturally gifted.  What potential could we collectively tap if we believed, instead, that the intelligence, artistic talent, and athleticism in each of us could be grown through effort?

I was reminded of these thoughts by this Nike commercial called “Fate” (found here).  Comments after the video:

This commercial posits that LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu were born to play football.  Such a narrative erases all of the incredibly hard physical and mental work that Polamalu and Tomlinson no doubt put in over their lives, at the same time that it discourages anyone who does not believe that “fate” has been so kind from trying to develop their own athletic ability.