Japanese snow print. Library of Congress

An Ancient Story About the Value of Hidden High Potentials

This is a followup to my earlier post (“Transitions Are Like Being Lost In The Pacific“) on high potentials and the number of transitions they go through in life, and how that increases their risk for massive failures. Here’s a story about a high potential who screwed up and failed completely.

Ah, yes. We come to your typical remark from a pragmatist CEO of a mid-sized firm. Although this cigar-chomping associate is a caricature in walking flesh, the opinion is shared by others. Lots of others. I can go into the psycho-sociological explanation for these opinions but instead, let me tell you a story from another land (I live in the U.S.) that I first heard years ago. It shows why I believe in hidden high potentials (HHPs), and although the story is somewhat dated, it shows what happens to HHPs even today.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there were two types of people living in the same country. One dominated the economic, social and political life. It’s fair to say that they ran everything. The other type of people were a different ethnicity. Like many minorities before and since, during hard times they found themselves getting the shaft from the ruling ethnic group. But they persevered. Let’s call the ruling ethnic group “Greens” and the oppressed minority, “Blues”.

Now the Greens ran a country that was the envy of the entire world. All the nations acknowledged their power. Indeed, the land of the Greens was mighty and all their neighbors feared their great might and learning. This great wealth and learning did not trickle down to the Blues, however,

One of these Blues, a young man we can call “Fred” — old names from far away are hard to pronounce, don’t you think? — who by a stroke of good fortune found himself adopted by a rich and powerful Green family. His face and color was not quite as blue as other Blues, and he could successfully pass as a bluish Green.