Imagine if you will a graph whose horizontal axis represents your life.
On the left, the day you were born, on the extreme right, your last day here on planet Earth – a long time in the future, we all hope.
Let’s now add a vertical axis which indicates the likelihood of you winning a Nobel Prize.
I know, I know, but just bear with me on this one please.
Back at that y-axis, its lower end represents no chance, while its upper stands for ‘quite a big probability, actually’.
Finally, let’s add the data – a line representing the way your Nobel Prize chances vary through your life.
Now, it’s said that children are born with infinite potential, and while you could pick holes in this principle along the lines of nature and nurture probably having a say in a youngster’s opportunities, it may well have been the case that if things had panned out differently it might have been you getting that magic phone call later on today.
For those who do actually go on to become Nobel Laureates, the line would rise over time as their work leads them towards recognition, then perhaps steadily fall away as they head into retirement.
For the likes of you and me, however, the graph (being generous to ourselves) might go from high at the left end, to zero at the right.
If you’re not currently engaged in cutting edge research in Chemistry, Physics or Medicine, nor do you pass your days brokering important Peace deals, it is (and I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s the truth) rather unlikely that you’ll be picking up a Nobel Prize.
Hoping without due reason that you might would be a rather extreme example of wanting to be something that you’re not.
But I think we can all be inclined, at times, to feel dissatisfied with our lot: to believe that if things were somehow very different, we’d be fifty times happier, say.
It’s true, big changes are sometimes possible but, more often than not, tomorrow is likely to be only marginally different from today.
So maybe it makes sense, if necessary, to shrug your shoulders and be comfortable with who you are.
I’ll go first if you like: I’m Jon Cousins and I’m never going to win a Nobel Prize.
(The closest I’ll ever get is that Carmelo, who cuts my hair at Stanford University, has also tended the locks of Nobel laureates.)