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The Difference Between Bill Gates and a Chimp

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 02/17/2010

A fasinating concept to me is the blurred line between a chimpanzee and Bill Gates.

With every passing year, it seems a new definition falls regarding what it means to be human. Perhaps the most famous is Jane Goodall’s observation of tool-making in stripping sticks to dig out termites.

More recently, the belief that symbolic thinking and generationally transmitted knowledge are uniquely human have fallen. The ability to apply knowledge gained from scale-model rooms that revealed the location of hidden bananas have dispelled our symbolic thinking pride, while a tribe of rain-dancing chimps dispelled the other. Even the capacity for premeditated deception, once thought to be the ultimate human trait, we now know is shared with chimps–therefore blurring the chimp/Gates line even more.

So the question of what it means to be human is rapidly shifting from a quantitative discussion (whether they have it) to a qualitative one–meaning, the precise nature of the symbolic thoughts and transmitted knowledge. So if a chimp or bonobo are so eerily close to humans, and Bill Gates is a human, then why don’t chimps found multinational companies?

And it’s not that Bill Gates was lucky. It’s that the quality of the thought matters. Given two otherwise identical blobs of protoplasm organized into autonomous beings, the only meaningful difference between the chimp and the entrepreneur is the quality of the thoughts they have, and how those thoughts manifest in the shared experience of the objective world. At nearly the age of 40, I’m struggling with these beliefs more and more. Are the quality of my thoughts really so much more like a chimp that I’ll never achieve entrepreneurial success?

I’ve got the first piece of the puzzle now. Better quality thoughts lead to greater ability to shape the world to a personal vision. Sure, a beaver might disagree with their landscape-transforming dams, but I’m talking about that kind of desire we all feel within to live the kind of life we want. With some, this grows into a desire to shape the world and collective human experience like molding clay. And I really don’t think that there’s anything so genetically special about great achievers that it can be wholly explained by the luck of the genetic lottery. Same goes for the specialness of when and where they were born, while certainly circumstance plays a major role in activating predispositions. Given two blobs of nearly identical protoplasm in nearly identical times and places in history, why does one spin their wheels trying to pay a mortgage and put their kids through college, while the other defines what the first guy’s day is going to look like? It’s the quality of thought, and how it manifests–thouhts and action.

Thank-you captain obvious! But if it’s really as obvious as think-and-do, then why isn’t everyone great achievers in command of their life? I would have to guess that there are certain key events in ones’ life that make all the difference. I’m hesitant to call it luck. And the odd question of free will and determinism seep onto the discussion. But I do believe that there is a thoughtful conscious decision here that results from exposure to social programming delivered through The Art of War, Nietzsche, Tony Robbins or some other success programming that provides some clarity and insight early on. Rumor has it, that it was the Master Key System by Charles Haanel discovered at Harvard before he dropped out.

Such insights are best when they occur young, because their effects compound over time. And of course the insight has to lead eventually to a small success to reinforce the process, turning it into an addictive cycle. And therein is the difference between Bill Gates and a chimp–or Bill Gates and most of us for that matter. It’s a rapid itterative cycle wherein good ideas occur, get tested, yielding results and reward that fuels the next idea.

Somehow laziness gets swept aside, and ideas are turned into something that impact the real world. And that’s done often–during all hours of the day–instead of other more appealing activities. Some mild success is achieved, and the chances of encountering the big-break skyrockets, because success leads to success. And a cycle kicks in, and momentum builds. The incredible upward spiral of how this process can impact the world that separates us from chimps… or at least some of us. I am now determined to differentiate myself from a chimp.