Nature vs. Nurture

What is most important and has the greatest impact on your personal growth and development, nature or nurture? This question has been haunting the greatest of minds since, well, probably since we had the leisure of thinking about something other than basic survival. Now, I don’t want to get into solving this debate, but I want to talk a bit about how your perspective on this matters.


If you fall into the nature belief system you are acknowledging that everything you do is based on a biological or physiological make-up. You are accepting the belief that the innate abilities you have to succeed or fail are based on these physiological factors. To you it’s all a done deal when you’re born.

This serves you well because you never strive to achieve things you’re not biologically structured to do. For some extremely simple examples, you wouldn’t dream of becoming a basketball player if you were 4 feet tall or a public speaker if you were an introvert. It would be irrational in your world and this thinking does protect you from venturing into avenues in which you would not be a natural success, but it has limiting factors.

Sometimes those challenges and stepping outside of your innate ability zone, or comfort zone as many like to call it, can bring you the greatest amount of growth and personal satisfaction. By nurturing not only the areas that you have natural ability in, but also those areas which are extremely uncomfortable you push yourself to evolve into something greater, think outside the box, and maybe turn those innate abilities into something the world has never seen before.

A good example of this would be Steve Jobs. He took his esoteric thought process and his natural ability of non-conformity and introversion to build one of the most successful ventures ever. He translated those esoteric ideas into streamlined processes and yes, even did a lot of public speaking. (Ok, he’s not the greatest and most exciting example of this, but who doesn’t know who he is. If you have a better example, I’d love to hear about it and immediately update this post. I blog on the fly and this is what came into my grey matter.)


On the other side of the coin you could be one of those people who believes nature is the most important factor in growth and development. You believe that no matter what you achieve in life it is all due to experiences you’ve had or things you’ve been exposed to.

The nurture belief allows you to make and do anything. With hard work, determination, and time you can follow any venture or talent you are striving for. The world is your oyster and you’re stepping up to the plate. You’re a go getter, a planner, and a believer in the dreams of the determined.

Here’s the problem, you also find all sorts of reasons or excuses, probably stemming back to your infancy, as to why you can’t do something. It just wasn’t nurtured into you. It’s too big of a hurdle to try and learn it now. The damage is done and you’ll never get past it. You spend 90% of your time trying to heal or undo the horrible experiences that are hindering you from achieving your happy and successful self.

Ok, let me pause here and just reiterate how totally into moving through, accepting, learning, and moving past painful experiences I am. I’ve been through a LOT of these and we do need to take time to accept, learn, forgive and move past these experiences. As tough as they all were I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world because going through them made me a better person. (I’ll tell you all about them and how I made it through on a better platform than a blog.)

Back to the point, when we believe only nurture can make or break us we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time. It also puts a lot of power in people or things that are outside of our control. Getting overwhelmed, not trying, or fear of failure are major obstacles for the nature argument.

Bottom Line

Nature and our innate capabilities are important because it allows us a direction, but nurturing those innate abilities and learning to nurture areas we might be weak in as well will bring us the most happiness.  It’s a give and take equally flowing from the two. Your thought process changes when you view both as equally important. You become someone who understands your physiological capabilities and also your experiences but isn’t limited by them.

Discovering who you are is the first step to gaining perspective on how to balance these two perspectives. Don’t get stuck in these traps of focusing too much on one versus the other. As I always say in fitness, nutrition, and life, balance is the key.

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