Why 'Bad' Kids Grow Up to Be Billionaires (Sometimes)

Jacqueline Burt Cote

steve jobsDoes your too smart/crafty/stubborn/strong-willed kid drive you batsh*t crazy up the wall? Don't despair. According to a new paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, the very personality traits in your child that make visions of boarding school dance in your head could be the same qualities "associated with entrepreneurial success later on in life." That's right: In addition to posessing such obviously helpful-in-life characteristics as intelligence and confidence, the super-successful often have significant rebellious streaks. Says paper co-author Ross Levine: "Those people who become the most successful entrepreneurs tend to have the unique combination of cognitive and non-cognitive traits. It's not just that they are smart, but [as kids] they also are more likely to break the rules, get into trouble and take risks." 

Famous cases in point: Steve Jobs (college dropout); Bill Gates (pot smoker); Steve Wozniak (hacker); Mark Zuckerberg (college dropout). Shoot, a kid could do worse!!

Anyway, this paper just confirms what I've always believed, as a mom ... that as almost impossible as it can be, we should truly, truly endeavor to appreciate (or at least live with) whatever it is about our kids that keeps us up at night tearing handfuls of increasingly grey hair out of our heads. Take, for example, my smart/crafty/stubborn/strong-willed 12-year-old daughter: She's a handful and a half now, but I swear that kid is gonna take over the world someday. (Which is why I try to be nice to her now!!)

Does your kid have a rebellious streak?


Image via Ben Stanfield/Flickr

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