Obviously in every generation there are things that are fundamentally human and then there are things that are transitional and truly specific to time and place. The things that are fundamental can move in phases, like war and peace or like seasons; and they can change forms but still show up in the same ways, like love stories across time and space. They can work as building blocks, pieces of the same structure but at different times in its development, each generation adding the next layer either successfully, or toppling the entire lineage.
In that, there are people who were just in the right place at the right time, those who weren't, and those others who were always "destined for greatness."
Things that are specific to time and place are often hard to discern from human nature itself, and in retrospect all becomes clear. However, when looking at patterns and statistics, one can get a general idea about what is a passing trend and what is a shifting paradigm.