Ferraris, Minis & HOM

Edward de Bono has a wonderful analogy that I love to use when talking about intelligence. He likens a persons innate, inborn, intelligence to the type of car they dive.

We are certainly all born different. That’s an undeniable fact of life. In de Bono’s analogy this difference is like the car we drive. Some of us a born with Ferrari’s and some of us are born with mini’s.

Some people believe that this innate intelligence, our inborn abilities, determine, or at least limit, the success we have in life. This is reflected in The Peter Principle.Pic 1

However, what de Bono asserts is that it is not the car you are born with that is important. What is more closely related to success in life

is how you learn to dive the car you’re born with.

For example, if you put a Ferrari with a poor driver and a Mini with a skilled driver on a drag track – a simple task, the Ferrari with the poor driver will win out every time. It doesn’t take much skill to win at a simple task like that.

Pic 2However, if you put the same two cars on a rally track. A course with corners, obstacles, changing surfaces and everything else that goes into making up a real world messy problem, then then the mini with the skilled driver is likely to be able to negotiate the course better and win.

This idea is born out in both our day-to-day experiences as well as in the research into acquisition of excellence

Take for example a person you knew at school who we might describe as a “Lazy ‘A’ Student”. This person was probably born with a Ferrari. They found school easy and they cruised through… up to a point. But at some point, possible a transition point where the demands increased suddenly, their results took a plunge. Although they had a fast car, they failed to develop the driving skills required when the course got difficult.

On the other hand you might know someone who struggled through school, but put the effort into learning how to behave when they confronted problems the solutions to which were not immediately apparent. They developed the driving skills required to use their minds to best effect. As a result these people tend to rise to the top in the end, when the demands of lifes challenges require more than simple “speed”

It turns out our success is not limited by our innate abilities. The more we develop our driving skills the more we are able to successfully confront the challenges we confront in life.

What are the driving skills of life? In short, they are the Habits of Mind, and these must be developed, refined and matured to a high degree to acheive success. We’ll be exploring this idea more and more over the coming weeks.


  • eweld1

    An really excellent analogy. I’m trying to improve my ‘driving’ skills now.