How did Helen Keller becomesuch an iconic figure in our cultural consciousness? How did Nelson Mandela emerge from a lengthy imprisonment without bitterness, anger, and resent- ment? How did Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn grow up a free thinker in an oppressive culture?
There is clearly some factor in the development of certain human beings that transcends culture, upbringing, and genetics. Sometimes the influence of another person or persons plays a vital role. Helen Keller, for example, was fortunate to have as her teacher Annie Sullivan, whose part in her development was immense. And Nelson Mandela, in his book Long Walk to Freedom, speaks of many people, including writers and historical figures from the past, who strongly influenced who he became. But there was another factor at work in each of these remarkable individuals—and others whose development has been shaped by more than just genetics and environment. This crucial “Third Factor” is the role individuals choose to play in their own development.
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