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People Are Awesome…. Why Aren’t You?

December 2, 2010

This video, titled “People Are Awesome”, is simply mind-blowing. It’s basically 5 minutes of people conquering every fear, extreme, and impossible odd.

After only a few clips, i found myself asking, Why Can’t I do that?”.

I pose this question, not simply because I’m jealous (though I can’t deny I am), but because it raises an interesting point.

What separates these people for the rest of us? What is it that allows them to perform exceptionally? And is it somewhere in all of us?

Between the acts of extreme strength and precision, I started wondering whether each of us has the natural capacity to achieve these feats. My train of thought led me to our old friend, Immanuel Kant. Remember Kant’s concept of enlightenment? That each individual impairs his use of reason through ignorance, laziness, and immaturity.

Kant’s enlightenment theory is one of self-determinism. With effort and focus, each man can learn to think for himself. But, can Kant’s theory be further applied to topics other than just knowledge? Does each person, deep down in their innate being, have the ability to land a back flip from a moving car? Perhaps the only restriction to being awesome is the restriction we ourselves place on our abilities?

I’m sure some people will argue that, with the right amount of training and skill, man can learn to do anything. However, there is also a clear counter argument to this statement.

The antithesis of this video, “The FAIL” , is far more prominent in today’s world.  Everyone has seen a video of someone trying to grind a skateboard down a handrail, only to split themselves in two and double over in pain. These videos propose a far more realistic view of man’s capacity and raises another questions:  What separates these “failures” from the successful “awesome” people in society?

My personal feeling is that Kant’s argument is only one aspect of the answer. I believe it requires a mixture of natural ability (biology),  acquired skills (experience), and dumb luck. But, this debate is clearly open to debate.

So, what do you think? Is the thing holding you back from achieving the impossible really just a voice in your head telling you no? Or is there an awesome gene that only some of us have? Either way, one thing is certain: PEOPLE ARE AWESOME.

  1. britneyrupley permalink
    December 2, 2010 10:17 AM

    I love this article. It is such a fun way to connect what we learn in lecture and what is relevent in the world. Personally, I do think Kant’s argument can be used here. It is just a matter of eliminating self-constructed ignorance. If you believe that you can do it and put beside the negative thoughts in your head, you could plausibly do anything you wanted to. Fear plays a big role in desicion making in these situations, elminate that and freedom is at your figure tips as well as Kant’s philiosophy.

  2. justinrostker permalink
    December 2, 2010 11:33 AM

    I don’t believe Kant’s argument can be used to its full extent here. First, I doubt many of those were done on the first attempt, especially the basketball and skateboarding ones. Secondly, if someone puts the time into something they will most likely be able to accomplish it, the amount of time however depends on the person. However, some things not everyone can do, no matter how much time is put in to trying to achieve it. For example, Michael Jordan, there is no way if everyone puts in the time that they will be able to achieve what he did. Even NBA players are unable to, and while they have a leg up on the rest of us, not even they can surpass him in the time they are in the NBA. While this is somewhat of an extreme counterexample, it is situations such as this which leads me to say Kant’s argument cannot be applied to doing these awesome things shown in the video.

  3. Jorge Rodriguez-Larrain permalink
    December 2, 2010 5:05 PM

    I think for the most part Kant’s argument is applicable, as with effort and dedication people can obtain what they want, but there are definitely some limits, such as the physical limits, so may people will not “have the ability to land a back flip from a moving car”.

  4. mbhilton permalink
    December 2, 2010 5:12 PM

    I gonna take the middle ground on this and say that either Kant’s argument or natural talent can produce awesomeness. No matter how much talent you have, if you don’t have the motivation and drive to train yourself you’re never going to be able than to perform without effort. The same is true for talent though, so long as you can’t the ability to do something as a talent. No matter how much we want to, humans will never fly on their own power, but we get around that by creating aircraft. We have it within us to do whatever we want, we just won’t necessarily be doing it on our own power.

  5. emilywiho permalink
    December 2, 2010 6:16 PM

    I really liked your article. The video was indeed very interesting and I was really amazed by the people there. Just like I am when I watch the Olympics, or TV shows featuring people with ‘special abilities’.

    As to your question on whether this is because of our ‘laziness’ as Kant puts it, or merely due to natural ability, I would probably agree with the commentor above mbhilton on a ‘middle’ ground.

    I believe that although natural ability is certainly something that stands out, and for some they may not have to practice or train as much as others to show their natural abilities, a talent is useless if it is not used. For example the best basketball players or writers would not be able to showcase their talent if they didn’t practice or didn’t ‘bother’ to play or write.

    Moreover, even THE best players will not be able to succeed or reach the level of achievement they can if they don’t practice. Even the best tennis players, or best runners would not be able to succeed if they didn’t practice.

  6. mlevin44 permalink
    December 2, 2010 6:45 PM

    I love this post. It really made me think about whether I am making the most of my every day life. I am a firm believer in the fact that “People are awesome.” Unfortunately people don’t seem to take advantage of opportunities or of life in general. Of coarse there are always physical limitations, but it seems mental blocks for the most part are the obstacle. I have the physical ability to go skydiving; I am simply too afraid to take advantage of my abilities. Fear is the main block for people I believe. Fear of getting hurt or more often times, fear of failure. That is the only point in which I disagree with Kant’s argument. It isn’t as much about ignorance or laziness as it is about lack of personal security and confidence to overcome obstacles and achieve.

  7. Lorna Malja permalink
    December 2, 2010 7:19 PM

    This is such an awesome and fun post, definitely loved it! The video was amazing, i mean people are so talented and gifted that it is crazy. I certainly don’t think that everyone can do these skills that these people did in the video though. I mean that takes so much drive and motivation and skill. What they do is so extreme; and most of them, i believe are gifted also. I mean im sure that if someone put all their time and energy into a certain skill they will be able to do it, but the time restraint might be an issue. Usually, we are all busy indivduals. As far as Kant’s argument, I do not believe it is applicable. I mean not everyone will be able to do what was done in that video; really seems so impossible for ordinary people like us. You can try and try and try over and over to do something; but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen and that you will achieve it.

  8. Sara Mitchell permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:14 PM

    I really enjoyed this post and the video was very entertaining as well. I definitely wish I could do any single one of those acts people have accomplished in that video. I believe that anyone is capable of doing anything they want, if they are physically able, but they have to start at a young age to train their bodies. Not only is there a major physical component involved, but they have to be extremely driven and determined and not have high inhibitions. People develop inhibitions with age, which is why I said starting at a young age will allow for a higher success rate at accomplishing such a feat. For example, if I started skateboarding when I was little, I wouldn’t really have much fear of falling and would probably develop a lot of skill because of that. However, if I tried to take up skateboarding now, I would be horrible because I would be too afraid to fall and scrape or hurt myself badly. The people shown in that video must have practiced their acts for hours on end every day, which takes incredible mental and physical capacity. Everyone is capable of exhibiting great physical and mental strength, but they have to be willing to put the work in and they also have to be willing to have a no-fear attitude.

  9. yequan permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:27 PM

    I like reading this article, very interesting.
    Yeah, sometimes “LUCK” matters, someone are born more physically tough or with special talent.
    “Fortuna” is also important as effort, isn’t it? Just like Machiavelli aruged.

  10. fvenzor permalink
    December 3, 2010 12:15 AM

    Although I do think that one thing that will constantly stop the “regular” people from taking on such extreme challenges is fear, the reality is that not everyone is cut out to do such things. Fear may initially be the halt on our dreams that may include jumping into kiddy pools from intense heights but in the end there are just some things that people are more proficient and skilled at doing. So we can take off our ignorant blinders but that sure does not mean that most of us will be doing back flips off of moving vehicles.

  11. Melissa Glassman permalink
    December 3, 2010 4:10 PM

    I enjoyed this post very much. Its focus on “our personal abilities” and how we have the ability to pursue acts others do not truly forced me to think. I heard once that if a child is told often throughout their childhood that they have a good voice, or good dancing skills, they will grow up to actually be quite talented in that specific field. I agree with this theory very much because I hold strong belief that reassurance leads to a persons growth in self-confidence. I have always been told I possess strong vocal abilities (no one in my family can even carry a tune). Although, biology does affect the body build or eye color we have, I believe talent and ability is possessed by one’s belief in their selves (much like the little engine that could).

  12. Eric Tellem permalink
    December 3, 2010 7:01 PM

    I agree that determination and focus can bring anyone great success; however, I think in many cases people are born with the innate ability or talent to do unbelievable things. There are ideas and talents that I know no matter the effort I put in I could never reach. Practice can bring a person great things but I think there is a ceiling for all people.

  13. seangordon permalink
    December 3, 2010 8:55 PM

    Nice post. However, I do share some of the sentiments of some of these other posters. After watching the video, I decided that there are some things that I could never be able to do even if I “put my mind to it”. There are plenty of stunts there that I think I am physically limited from ever being able to achieve. That being said, I still agree with your general point.

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