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Flowers for A Talent-less Alien

Posted on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 05:58AM by Registered CommenterLon Langston | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

One in 7.31 billion  

I don’t want to be like everybody else, but it’s pretty unrealistic to think that I will differentiate myself, in any meaningful way, against those odds. I’m just not going to be Elon Musk or Jay Z or Jordan Speith. I wasn’t born with the genetics or circumstances to be brilliant, artistic or athletic.  Even if I miraculously became King of Earth, this whole planet is just a tiny spec in the Universe. (Look at these 11 images).  What’s the point? Let’s just go to Breckenridge and get high.

As a kid, I was fascinated with Daniel Keyes’s novel Flowers for Algernon. In the story, a special-needs guy, Charlie, undergoes surgery that makes him smarter and smarter. He eventually becomes a genius but, as time goes by, he begins to regress. He desperately searches for a way to hold on to his brilliance, but never finds it and ends up back where he began.

I loved Charlie’s ascent and hated his descent, as did the first magazine editor to offer to publish the short story version of Flowers for Algernon. He asked Keyes to change the ending so that Charlie remained smart and got the girl. Keyes refused.

I rarely watch movies, but in 2011, the trailer for the movie Limitless, staring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, captured my attention. My wife and I went. Just like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon, Cooper’s character, Eddie Morra, got smarter and smarter (because of a drug, not surgery). As I watched Eddie’s ascent, I knew this was an Algernon storyline. I knew he wouldn’t be able to maintain his super smartness.

There are three problems with drug dependency: Diminishing results, side effects and supply. Eddie Morra had all three. Just like with Charlie, this was not going to end well. I’ve read (from unreliable internet sources) that there was an alternate ending to Limitless. If you who saw the movie, you know that the alternate ending would be the Algernon ending, because, as it was shown in theaters, Eddie Morra beat the wrap. He became limitless.

That is so cool!

And dangerous. 

Cool because it gives us talentless aliens hope.

Dangerous because that hope is never going to be in a magic bean.

I wanted to be like Charlie, before his decline, or Eddie Morra. I wanted to find a magic bean that would make me excel at all the things. I clearly remember sitting in my 4th-grade class, at Chapel Hill Elementary School, thinking I should be able to skip over all this boring stuff about how other people think the world works.  The bad news is there is no magic bean. There is no “Limitless” drug or surgery.

Most of us have been in a job interview: The awkward and ineffectual ritual by which jobs and people are mismatched. But what if you went to a job interview for a job that fit your abilities and passions perfectly, while stretching you just enough, a job that none of the other 7.31 billion people could do, a job for which you were the only qualified candidate? You’d get that job and you’d be incredibly fulfilled and well-paid. You’d be limitless.

That job exists.

And it’s more like a mission. “Every person is in certain respects like all other people, like some other people, and like no other person.”Your mission is not going to get done by anyone else. In certain respects, you are like no other person. You are 1 in 7.31 billion. You are uniquely qualified for your mission and I am uniquely qualified for mine. If you are 2 years old or 102 years old, you have a mission and it’s not done. If it were, you’d be gone.

I’ve devoted a lot of time and attention to understanding how a talentless alien can find and live out a unique mission. I’ve absorbed hundreds of books, articles, TED Talks, Leadercast talks, podcasts, Talks at Google, and added them to 27 years of in-the-trenches business experience and access to a lot of successful people. The result is Significance Ideation. Significance Ideation will show you how to go from wherever you are now to limitless, in your unique mission.




1. Brian R. Little, Me Myself and Us, 2014. Chapter 1, page 1 – adapted by Dr. Little from Clyde Kluckhohn and Henry A. Murray, Personality in Nature, Society and Culture, 1953


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