From Strength to Strength Summary

From Strength to Strength summary

This article is all about From Strength to Strength summary, a life-changing book by Arthur C. Brooks “From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life”.



From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks is a guideline for finding purpose, meaning, as well as success as we get older. First, this revolutionary new book looks at how people’s brains change as they approach middle age, making old methods of working harder less enjoyable and successful. Then, it maps out a route to discover a second curve that can be more fulfilling.

About The Author

Arthur C. Brooks is American Enterprise Institute’s president and a renowned author and social scientist. Arthur collaborates with leading academics, policymakers, and elected officials to ensure that all Americans have access to free enterprise and the opportunity to succeed.

Arthur’s journey to Washington, DC, was anything from ordinary. He dropped out of college at the age of 19 to pursue a professional French horn player career. He went on to tour extensively and record numerous albums before joining the Barcelona City Orchestra.

In his late twenties, Arthur returned to the United States and earned his bachelor’s degree via correspondence. He went on to study microeconomics and mathematical modeling for his Ph.D. in public policy. He worked as a professor of public administration for ten years after receiving his Ph.D.

Arthur is a sought-after lecturer, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a frequent radio and television pundit. He is a Seattle native who has been married to his wife, Ester, for 27 years. They have three children and live in Maryland.

From Strength to Strength summary
From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks


Years ago, a gifted young musician pursued his boyhood aim of becoming the world’s finest French horn player by studying with excellent tutors, visiting music festivals, and consistently obtaining the first chair. He dropped out of college at the age of 19 to travel the world, with the ambition of joining a major symphony orchestra as a soloist just a few steps away.

But, all of a sudden, his performance began to deteriorate. There was no amount of practice or specialized instruction that could assist. In fact, the more he fought against his deterioration, the faster it occurred. Finally, he got a job teaching music and finished college through a distance-learning program to hedge his chances. However, Arthur Brooks’ career did not suffer due to this detour, and he is now a Harvard Business School professor.

In his latest book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, Brooks discusses his incredible transformation from aspiring musician to the hard-charging leader of a Washington, DC, think tank and academic. The book looks at how people’s brains change as they approach middle age, making traditional methods of doing things—like working harder all the timeless enjoyable and successful, and outlines a path to a “second curve” that can be more fulfilling.

The book weaves together the lives of high-achieving singers, philosophers, religious leaders, scientists, and Olympic athletes—some who effortlessly leaped to the second curve and others who tripped, and whose misery as their glory days faded in the rearview mirror serves as a warning tale.

Take, for example, Charles Darwin, who was depressed in his later years after failing to repeat the popularity of his earlier book, On the Origin of Species. Like many others who strive for achievement, Darwin didn’t realize that the intellect that allowed him to invent swiftly in his youth, known as fluid intelligence, gradually declines as one age. “I have everything I need to be happy and fulfilled,” he told a friend, “but life has become quite tiresome to me.”

People nearing the end of their lives, on the other hand, don’t have to wallow in washed-up irrelevance. According to Brooks, a professor of Management Practice at HBS, when fluid intelligence fades, crystallized intelligence—a new way of thinking distinguished by integrating and sharing knowledge—grows. He cites Johann Sebastian Bach, a musical superstar who was eventually overtaken by his son but who discovered that teaching compositions in his later years gained him much more notoriety and happiness and longer-lasting popularity.

“These two curves aren’t mentioned in business school.” “They simply tell you to work hard, be smarter than everyone else, and be more ambitious,” Brooks adds. “They have no idea when that engine, that outboard motor, will start to splutter.” It’ll just be plain decline if you don’t realize [the second curve] exists or are unwilling to utilize it.”

The Striver’s Curse

Professional athletes expect their abilities to wane as they age, and many plan ahead for a second career. Brooks doesn’t recall when his French horn abilities began to diminish, but musicians, like athletes, rely on precise fine motor muscles that deteriorate with age, usage, and injury.

People who work in knowledge-based fields may believe they are unique. Lawyers, financial experts, and physicians all anticipate their talents to stay the same or improve over time. Brooks, on the other hand, cites facts to indicate that this is not the case. He discovers that when the brain’s prefrontal cortex diminishes in effectiveness, deterioration begins in practically every high-skill career between the late 30s and early 50s.

Physicists’ innovation peaks between ages of 50 as well as 45; authors’ in between ages of 40 and 45; financial experts’ between the ages of 36 and 40; and physicians’ in their 30s. The majority of startup founders are between the ages of 21 and 34, with only 5% over 60. On average, 20 years into a career, IQ and professional peaks occur. This is what Brooks refers to as the “fluid intelligence curve.”

Another complication is that the better people perform, the more likely they are to experience a downturn. And the more connected people are to success, the more difficult it is for them to lose it. That’s what happened to one of Wall Street’s wealthiest financiers:

“Her managerial judgments aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and her instincts aren’t as trustworthy,” Brooks writes. “Where she formerly ruled the room, she now sees that her younger colleagues are beginning to distrust her… She ‘lived to work,’ and she was worried that even that was starting to slip.”

She has unhappy relationships and drinks excessively, but she can’t see a way out.

“Perhaps I would rather be unique than happy,” she explains. “Anyone can go on vacation, spend time with friends and family… but not everyone can achieve great things.” When decline strikes, people like her are often too enamored of success to make a change.

Considering A New Path

When Brooks’ 11-year-old son could see more moves ahead in the game of checkers than he could, a lightbulb went out in his mind. Brooks was in his late 40s at the time, working 80-hour weeks as the chairman of a famous think tank and reveling in his position at the heart of policy disputes. He felt it would be fun to write another academic journal article, this time the quantitative, analytical sort that had been his bread and butter as a young professor a decade before.

He says, “It was less enjoyable and tougher, and the paper was of worse quality than what I had done ten years before.” “It was a sign that something had shifted in the way I thought and in my own skills.” That’s when I started looking into it.”

The findings revealed that not all deterioration occurs beyond the age of 40. During middle age, some abilities that promote wisdom, teaching, and exchanging ideas develop. He claims that language abilities and articulation improve with time, and that occupations that mix and apply existing concepts, such as applied mathematics, have a considerably longer lifespan. Teachers generally have long-term success, according to a research published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the oldest college teachers receive the greatest teaching reviews.

According to Brooks, getting on the second crystallized intelligence curve necessitates adopting a teaching or mentoring perspective in whatever industry they work in.

“Not everyone is interested in doing that.” He writes, “Many reject.” “However, for those who take the risk, the payoff is nearly always huge.”

Brooks took that risk and ended himself at Harvard, where he writes a column for The Atlantic, does a podcast, and gives presentations.

A Step-By-Step Guide To The Second Curve

How do you know when it’s time to start looking for the second curve?

“One of the major indicators is that you are no longer enjoying your work,” Brooks explains. “People like doing things that they excel at. When you begin to miss a beat, you begin to appreciate it less.”

Each person’s second curve will be unique, and adjusting one’s mindset is essential to spotting and grabbing it. Brooks provides a route map with a few pointers:

Use a death meditation to help you overcome your dread of aging. Brooks says that all the time:

  1. I’m starting to lose confidence in my abilities.
  2. Those who know me well realize that I am not as bright as I once was.
  3. Other individuals get the same social and professional attention as I did.
  4. I need to reduce my workload and take a break from regular tasks that I used to take for granted.
  5. I am unable to work any longer.
  6. Many people I encounter are unfamiliar with me or my prior work.
  7. I’m still alive, but I’m no one professionally.
  8. I lose the capacity to convey my thoughts and ideas to individuals in my immediate environment.
  9. I am no longer alive, and my accomplishments are no longer remembered.

Assess and strengthen interpersonal connections. “Understand the nature of your connections and appraise them fairly, as if you were evaluating a contract,” Brooks advises. “You’re naturally good at it.” “Inwardly focus your gift.”

Work for change rather than hoping for it, Brooks recommends. “Everyone at HBS knows that wishing for anything better is crap,” he says. “You have to put forth the effort to get what you desire.”

Finally, a bit of corporate advice: value and hire for knowledge in the C-suite and on boards. Brooks believes that firms should promote “modern elders” to the top of the corporate ladder.

Brooks says he has only played the French horn three times in the previous 25 years and doesn’t miss it, despite the fact that it taught him so much about the misery of early decline and what follows thereafter.

“According to Bach, the goal and ultimate goal of music is to rejuvenate the soul and glorify God. “He didn’t say that the goal and ultimate goal of all music is merely to play and write as much music as possible,” Brooks muses. “What this means is that the goal and ultimate goal of our activity is to rejuvenate other people’s spirits. You can’t accomplish that if you’re having difficulty and are on the wrong side of the fluid intelligence curve, working out of fear and suffering. You’ll never be able to perform like Bach. And today, compared to when I was a musician, I’m a lot more like Bach.”

Why Your Professional Decline Is Approaching Quickly?


Who are the five most influential scientists in history? This is the type of subject that nerdy parts of the internet like to argue, and I’m not going to take you there. But, regardless of how much or how little you know about science, Charles Darwin will undoubtedly be on your list. Today, he is known as a person who fundamentally changed our knowledge of biology. His fame has never waned since his death in 1882, owing to the magnitude of his impact.

Darwin died with the impression that his career had been a failure despite this.

Let’s start from the beginning. Darwin’s parents wished for him to become a preacher, a job for which he lacked desire and talent. As a result, he was a dud in class. However, science was his real passion, and it made him happy and alive. So it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him—”by far the most significant event in my life,” he later said—when he was asked to join The Beagle, a scientific sailing expedition around the world, in 1831, at the age of twenty-two. He spent the next five years on board the ship collecting exotic plant and animal species, which he sent back to England to the delight of experts and the general public.

This was enough to establish him as a well-known figure. However, when he came home at the age of twenty-seven, he sparked an intellectual fire with his theory of natural selection, which holds that species evolve and adapt through generations, resulting in the diversity of plants and animals we observe today after hundreds of millions of years.

He refined his idea over the following thirty years and published it in books and essays, progressively establishing his name. Finally, at the age of fifty, Darwin released On the Origin of Species, his magnum opus and crowning triumph, a best-seller outlining his theory of evolution that made him a household name and forever transformed science.

Darwin’s work, however, had reached a creative dead end at this point: he had reached a stumbling block in his study and was unable to produce fresh discoveries. Around the same time, a Czech monk named Gregor Mendel found what Darwin required to continue his work: genetic theory.

Unfortunately, Mendel’s work was published in an obscure German academic magazine, and Darwin never saw it—and, in any event, Darwin (who, recall, had been an uninspired student) lacked the mathematical and linguistic abilities to comprehend it. Despite writing a slew of novels later in life, his work after that was largely unremarkable.

Darwin was quite popular in his final years—indeed, after his death, he was laid to rest as a heroic figure in Westminster Abbey—but he was deeply frustrated with his life, seeing his work as unfulfilling, inadequate, and unoriginal. “I don’t have the heart or strength at my age to start any long-term investigations, which is the only thing I enjoy,” he admitted to a friend. “I have everything I need to be happy and content, but life has become tedious to me.”

Darwin was a success by world standards but a failure by his own. He knew he had everything he needed to be “happy and contented” by all worldly means, but he admitted that his fame and fortune were now like eating straw.

Only progress and new successes, such as he had experienced in his previous work, could cheer him up—and this was now beyond his abilities. As a result, he was doomed to be unhappy as he aged. According to all accounts, Darwin’s depression persisted until he died at the age of seventy-three.

I wish I could tell you that Darwin’s decline and unhappiness in old age were as uncommon as his achievements, but that’s not the case. Darwin’s decline was, in fact, completely normal and on time. And if, like Darwin, you have worked hard to be exceptional at what you do, you will almost certainly face a similar pattern of decline and disappointment—and it will come much sooner than you think.

The startling onset of decline

Unless you follow James Dean’s advice to “live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse,” you know that professional, physical, and mental decline is unavoidable. You’re probably thinking it’s a long, long time away.

You are not alone in your thoughts. Most people have an underlying perception that aging and its impact on professional performance will occur in the far future. This mentality explains a wide range of amusing survey results. For example, when asked what “being old” meant in 2009, the most common response among Americans was “becoming eighty-five.” In other words, the average American (who lives to the age of 79) dies six years before reaching retirement age.

The truth is that in almost every high-skill career, deterioration begins between one’s late thirties and early fifties. I’m sorry if it offends you. And it gets worse: the more accomplished one is at the pinnacle of one’s career, the more noticeable the downturn appears once it has begun.

Obviously, you’re not going to take my word for it, so let’s examine the proof.

We’ll begin with the most visible and recent decline: athletes. Those who participate in sports that require explosive power or sprinting reach peak performance between the ages of twenty and twenty-seven. In contrast, those who participate in endurance sports reach optimum performance later—but still as young adults.

No one expects a serious athlete to remain competitive until the age of sixty, and most of the athletes I interviewed for this book (there aren’t any surveys asking when people expect to experience physical decline, so I started asking informally) expected to have to find a new line of work by the age of thirty. They don’t like it, but they have to deal with it.

It’s a considerably different tale for what we now refer to as “knowledge workers”—presumably the majority of those reading this book. Almost no one confesses to expecting deterioration until their sixties, some later than that, among persons in jobs needing ideas and brains rather than athletic prowess and great physical power. They, unlike athletes, are not confronted with reality.

Consider scientists. Benjamin Jones, a strategy and entrepreneurship professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, has spent several years researching when people are likely to create prize-winning scientific discoveries and significant innovations. When Jones examines important innovators and Nobel laureates dating back more than a century, he discovers that the most typical age for remarkable discovery is in one’s late thirties.

He demonstrates that the chance of a significant discovery rises gradually in one’s twenties and thirties before plummeting substantially in one’s forties, fifties, and sixties. Of course, there are outliers. However, the likelihood of making a big invention at the age of seventy is almost equivalent to that of developing one at the age of twenty—around zero.

That reality undoubtedly prompted Nobel Prize-winning physicist Paul Dirac to create a sorrowful little poem on how age is every scientist’s burden. It concludes with the following two lines:

He is better off dead than alive when he reaches his thirtieth year.

When he was thirty-one years old, Dirac received the award for work he completed in his twenties. By the time he was thirty, he had constructed a broad quantum field theory, the subject of his Ph.D. at Cambridge (at age twenty-four). At the age of twenty-eight, he produced The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, a textbook that is still used today. He was a chaired professor at Cambridge when he was thirty. What happens next? He was an active academic who produced a few discoveries. But it wasn’t the same as in the beginning. Hence, as a result, his poetry.

Of course, Nobel laureates are not the same as ordinary scientists. So Jones and a collaborator went further into the data on highly cited researchers in physics, chemistry, medicine, patents, and numerous awards. They discovered that peak performance occurs at later ages than in the past, owing to the vast increase in knowledge necessary to execute cutting-edge jobs throughout the decades. Still, since 1985, the peak age for physicists has been fifty; for chemists, forty-six; and for physicians, forty-five. Following that, innovation plummets rapidly.

Other domains of knowledge follow the same fundamental structure. For authors, deterioration begins between the ages of forty and fifty-five. Financial professionals attain their optimum performance between the ages of 36 and 40. Take physicians, for example, they appear to peak in their thirties, with sharp declines in skill as the years pass.

It’s kind of comfortable to have a doctor who reminds me of Marcus Welby, MD. On the other hand, recent Canadian research looked at 80 percent of the country’s anesthesiologists and patient lawsuits against them during a ten-year period. The study discovered that physicians over the age of 65 are 50% more likely than younger doctors (under the age of 51) to be judged at fault for malpractice.

When it comes to peak age, entrepreneurs are an intriguing case. Tech inventors frequently achieve enormous fame and money in their twenties, but many are in creative decline by the age of thirty. According to the Harvard Business Review, founders of companies with $1 billion or more in venture funding tend to be between the ages of twenty and thirty-four. However, they discovered that the number of founders older than this is minimal. Other researchers disagree with this statistic, arguing that the average age of the founders of the fastest-growing start-ups is 45.

However, the truth remains: entrepreneurial potential has plummeted by middle age. Even by the most optimistic predictions, just around 5% of founders are above the age of sixty.

The tendency is not restricted to knowledge work; notable age-related loss occurs in skilled employment ranging from police to nursing earlier than most people believe. Peak performance ranges from 35 to 44 for equipment-service engineers and office employees and 45 to 54 for semiskilled assembly workers and mail sorters. The age-related drop in air traffic controllers is so severe, and the implications of age-related errors are so severe that the required retirement age is fifty-six.

One professor has developed an eerily precise algorithm to forecast decline in certain occupations. Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California, Davis, investigated the pattern of professional decline among persons in creative fields and developed a model that predicts the form of the average person’s career. He constructed the graph shown in Figure 1 by fitting curves to terabytes of data.

On average, the pinnacle of creative professions comes roughly twenty years following professional beginnings, explaining why people begin to decline between the ages of thirty-five and fifty. However, this is averaged across several fields, and Simonton discovered a significant degree of fluctuation. He has studied the “half-life” of numerous professions, for example—the age at which half of one’s labor has been completed.

On average, this would correspond to the highest point on the graph. Novelists are one group that closely follows this twenty-year half-life since they typically do half of their work before and a half after 20.4 years from the start of their writing careers. Mathematicians, who have a half-life of 21.7 years, are also close to this. Poets, on the other hand, reach their half-life after 15.4 years. Geologists are slightly later, at 28.9 years.

Consider what this implies for a moment. Assume you work in a quantitative field, such as a data analyst. Suppose you finish your studies and begin your career at the age of twenty-two. In that case, you will, on average, reach your professional peak at the age of forty-four and then begin to see your abilities deteriorate. On the other hand, assume you are a poet, recently graduated with a master of fine arts degree at the age of twenty-five.

According to Simonton’s findings, you will have completed half of your life’s work by the age of forty, and your productivity will begin to fall after that. If you are a geologist, on the other hand, your peak will be closer to fifty-four.

Early deterioration is a personal issue for me.

When I began my research, I was particularly interested in seeing if the declining trends extended to musicians, particularly classical artists. There are some well-known examples of classical musicians who continue to play well into elderly age. Jane Little, a sixteen-year-old double bassist, joined the Atlanta Symphony in 1945. She retired at the age of 87, seventy-one years later. (Well, she didn’t retire; she died onstage at a concert while playing “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”)

Ms. Little, on the other hand, is hardly the norm; most people retire considerably sooner. And, in some ways, retirement comes too late. According to polls, classical artists reach their best performance around their thirties. Younger musicians sometimes lament the prime positions taken by older performers with tenure—orchestras, like colleges, have tenure—who stick around long after they’ve lost their edge. The difficulty is that these elder athletes sometimes refuse to accept their own decline.

“It’s really difficult to acknowledge that it’s time,” remarked one French horn player in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, who is 58 years old. “We’re masters of denial. We’ve been successful because we refuse to accept the huge odds of making it in our field, and we learned early on that denial is a good thing.”

That wasn’t me on the French horn. But it may have happened in a parallel universe.

In reality, as a youngster, I had only one ambition: to become the world’s finest French horn player. I slavishly played my horn for hours and hours a day, performing in whatever group I could find. I hung images of legendary horn players on my bedroom wall for inspiration. I attended all of the top music festivals and studied with the best professors a lower-middle-class child in Seattle could find. I was always the top player, sitting first.

For a time, I believed my childhood fantasy would come true. At the age of nineteen, I dropped out of college to pursue a professional career in a traveling chamber-music ensemble. We drove throughout the country in a huge van, doing one hundred performances every year. I didn’t have health insurance, and rent day was always stressful, but by the age of twenty-one, I’d seen all fifty states and fifteen foreign countries and created songs that I occasionally heard on the radio. My ambition was to ascend through the ranks of classical music in my twenties, join a major symphony orchestra in a few years, and eventually become a soloist—the most prestigious position a classical musician can have.

But then, in my early twenties, something unusual happened: I began to deteriorate. I have no idea why to this day. My skill began to deteriorate, and I had no reason. Nothing worked. I went to prominent professors and practiced even more, but I couldn’t go back to where I was. Ones that were previously easy to play became difficult; before, difficult pieces became impossible.

The 2nd Curve

The inevitable decline is inescapable. Period. But aging is indeed not terrible news (and I’m not talking about grandkids and a Sarasota condo, though they are lovely, too). There are, in fact, several unique ways in which humans naturally get smarter and more skilled. Understanding, developing, and practicing these new talents is the key to growing as we age. You can turn adversity into great new success if you can do it.

Have you ever noticed how, as individuals age, they nearly never get less articulate? They usually have a larger vocabulary than they had when they were younger. This results in a variety of abilities. They are stronger Scrabble players, for example, and may do well in other languages—not in perfecting their accents, but in expanding their vocabulary and comprehending syntax. These findings are supported by research: people keep and expand their vocabulary—both in their home languages and in other languages—all the way to the end of their lives.

Similarly, as people become older, they may see that they become better at mixing and applying complicated concepts. In other words, they might not be able to come up with flashy new innovations or solve issues as rapidly as they used to. They do, however, become much better at applying the things they have learned and communicating them to others. They also improve their ability to understand the thoughts of others, sometimes even to the ones who came up with them.

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These qualities that emerge later in life are advantageous to certain vocations. Theoretical mathematicians, for example, tend to peak and drop early, as predicted by Simonton’s data. However, applied mathematicians (those who use mathematics to address real-world issues) peak considerably later because they specialize in synthesizing and applying pre-existing ideas—a specialty that benefits older individuals. Take, for example, historians, who are the definitive gatherers of existing facts and ideas. Surprisingly, they peak 39.7 years after starting their careers, which is much beyond the expected range for decline. Consider what this means: Assume you want to be a professional historian and accomplish your Ph.D. at the age of 32. The bad news is that you’re still very wet behind the ears in your fifties. But here’s the good news: you’re just seventy-two years old, so you still have half your work ahead of you! Take care of your health so you can continue to create your finest works well into your nineties.

If you accept these facts as random, you receive a very little practical plan for life other than potentially becoming a competitive Scrabble player or pursuing a Ph.D. in history. It isn’t, however, random—not at all. In the late 1960s, a British psychologist called Raymond Cattell set out to figure out why all of this occurred. He discovered the solution, and that solution may break the curse of the striver—and improve your life.

Two levels of intellect

Cattell released Abilities: Their Structure, Growth, and Action in 1971. In it, he proposed that humans have two sorts of intellect, which they have in greater quantity at different stages in their lives.

Cattell characterized fluid intelligence as the ability to reason, think flexibly, and solve fresh issues. It is frequently referred to as raw intelligence, and studies have discovered that it is linked to both reading and mathematics aptitude. Innovators usually have a lot of fluid intelligence. However, Cattell, who specialized in IQ testing, discovered that it peaked very early in adulthood and then declined dramatically in one’s thirties and forties.

Based on this discovery, Cattell argued that younger individuals are inherently the best creators of fresh, new ideas. If he were still alive today (he died in 1998 at the age of 92), he would read what I’ve written up to this point and immediately conclude that the professional decline I’ve been discussing—the initial abilities that fade all too quickly—is caused by the fluid intelligence that virtually all hardworking, successful people rely on early in their careers.

If you had professional success in the early stages of your career, and your job featured new ideas or addressing difficult problems—most people reading this book, I would guess—you have fluid intelligence to thank for it (along with your hard work, maybe your parents, and good luck). Almost every contemporary industry’s young killers rely on fluid intellect. They learn rapidly, concentrate intensely on what is important, and find solutions. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in great detail, you can’t keep this up as you get older—which may be why you’re reading this book in the first place.

However, it is not the end of the narrative, and this is where Cattell’s work comes into play. There are two types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intellect. This is described as the capacity to apply previously acquired information. Consider the metaphor of a large library once more. But this time, instead of lamenting the librarian’s slowness, marvel at the extent of the book collection your librarian is perusing and the fact that he understands where to look for a book, even if it takes him along. Because it is based on a store of information, crystallized intelligence tends to increase with age through one’s forties, fifties, and sixties—and does not reduce until much later in life, if at all.

“[Fluid intelligence] is viewed as the decontextualized capacity to solve abstract issues, whereas crystallized intelligence represents a person’s knowledge gathered during life through acculturation and learning,” Cattell said. When you’re young, you have raw intelligence; when you’re old, you have wisdom. When you’re young, you can come up with a lot of facts; when you’re older, you understand what they mean and how to use them.

Let’s break it down a little. First, Cattell is implying that the success curve is, for all intents and purposes, the fluid intelligence curve, which rises until the mid-thirties and then falls through the forties and fifties. Meanwhile, another curve, the crystallized intelligence curve, is lurking behind it, growing through middle and late adulthood.

This is a significant discovery for you and me—in fact, it is enormous. It states that if your career is exclusively based on fluid intelligence, you will peak and decrease at a young age. However, if your employment necessitates crystallized intelligence—or if you can redesign your professional life to rely more on crystallized intelligence—your peak will come later. Still, your decline will be much, much later, if ever. And if you can go from one kind to the other, you’ve broken the code.

The few exciting pieces you just read were the book’s except; if you want a complete read, get a copy from Amazon, and you’ll be glad you did.


Arthur Brooks is the only individual who has combined science and our hopes for our life. His work both affirms and excites us about ourselves and our growth. From Strength to Strength provides genuine answers to timeless issues regarding happiness and advancement. This is a book that every ambitious person should read.

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We’re just scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the original book, “From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks,” order it here now on Amazon to learn the juicy details.

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