I believe that we all have our own niche – something so unique and innate to us that we enjoy every second of it and can naturally do better than others. Teaching Chinese is my niche.
I think this is the beginning of wisdom about human diversity — a big improvement over judging people by how “smart” they are, as so often happens. (To a college professor, smart = able to imitate a college professor.) My theory of human evolution emphasizes the need for diversity of occupations. In ancient times, occupational diversity arose because different people enjoyed doing different things.
But I also think Yang Yang is wrong in two ways. First, I don’t think your niche is innate. I think it can be changed. I think we can come to enjoy and excel at many jobs that we do not enjoy at first. This is the other side of procrastination. Just as we dislike doing things simply because we haven’t done them in a long time, we like doing things simply because we did them yesterday. Habits are pleasant.
I also think that where you fall on a pro-status-quo/anti-status-quo (conformist/rebel) dimension is not innate. I think it has a lot to do with your birth order (first-borns are more pro-status-quo), as Frank Sulloway says in Born to Rebel. I didn’t read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother expecting to think about birth order and rebelliousness but that’s what I ended up thinking about.