We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Nature/nurture is always a fun topic. Why aren't identical twins identical mentally and emotionally? It's only around 50%. Or, does parenting make any difference at all in who the adult turns out to be? Probably not too much, barring massive trauma.
Well, it is all complicated, and getting more complicated as we learn more about how the brain develops. The noise matters. A degree of messiness is built-in.
In the end, however, I do not think will-power is built-in. It is a choice, a daily choice.
As a mother of twins, I can tell you that both girls are artistically talented, but only one has been driven since the age of two to pull out her art supplies and draw every single day. I've been around kids my whole life and never seen anything like that level of discipline out of a 2yo before. Anecdotal, I know, but it leads me to believe that willpower is at least partially genetic.
Joachim de Posado (sp?) does an interesting and funny experiment with little people and their ability to delay gratification (and the implications of that ability) which he described in a TEDtalk. It's called Don't Eat That Marshmallow. Worth watching.
This is the new field of "epigenetics," which has grown vastly thanks to the genome project. While twins may develop from identical DNA, they start differentiating almost immediately in the environment of the womb. The older the identical twins, the more diverse their DNA. So, there is both nature AND nuture iin the development of one's abilities, health, etc. Methyl tags can turn on and off genes - fully or partially - thus, impacting whether or not a particular characteristic is manifested or acquired by that person.
Most notably, in recent Danish and Swedish studies it has been suggested that periods of famine affect the propensity of that person's children AND grandchildren to gain weight; that is, to metabolize calories. The detailed records of farm systems in those countries made rainfall and production figures easy to apply to future generations. leading scientists to see how the epigenetic changes in DNA can be inherited by future generations.
I am not an expert on all the implications, but this should lead to "designer" drugs that specifically attach to a gene, correcting its behavior. It also better explains Darwin's theories, how stress can change brain function (PTSD), etc.
And, perhaps, Mr. Francis, how your son's determination led to his overcoming a challenge. Congratulations to him.