I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
— Albert Einstein
We just don’t give up. We don’t always succeed, but we don’t give up easily. Some people claim that this is persistence. Others call it stubbornness. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is how you attempt to make progress.
When we were kids, our parents and teachers carefully watched us to see what we did well. They were looking for our talents and once they knew what they thought they were, they pushed us in that direction.
My mother, who viewed herself as clumsy and not graceful, declared that I was that way too, creating a bond and a reason for me to not become a cheerleader or take dance lessons or participate in things that would get me up and moving. Probably from fear, Mom kept me sedentary and “safe” for much of my toddler years.
Then, my brother was born. Boys have lots of energy and the strategies that she used to scare me into being “well-behaved” just didn’t work on him. I was the “good” kid and he was the hellion. My guess is that he was just a normal little boy, but he was less controllable than I had been and that made for a bad combination with Mom. Now we were typecast. I was the reader and he was the bad boy.
When my sister was born, she became the athletic female in the family. I don’t know if she was that different from me or if at that point Mom gave up, but she was allowed to do all the things I had never done. She became a cheerleader in grammar school, then high school, and finally, in college. Now she has her own cheerleading business – seriously – and she’s very successful at it.
Creating New Talents – By Choice
I’m sure that our story is similar to yours. At some point, someone told you that you were good at something and you adopted it as yours. You spent hours practicing the piano or playing softball or writing. It was your talent.
What would you say if I told you that you could probably do most anything that you were willing to invest the time in – that there is no such thing as natural talent – that what we’ve perceived as talent is actually the result of practice, practice, practice?
Oops! There it goes, the last excuse you have for staying stuck where you are. If you really want to do something, all you need to do is commit – and invest the time and study into what you want to do.
Just Think What You Could Do!
In my own life, I have a great example of this.
I’ve never been able to draw, at least that’s what I was told. I viewed myself as totally lacking in artistic talent. Yet several years ago when I attended the international conference for our professional association, I went to a session on cartooning. Due to a lack of planning on my part, I ended up sitting on the aisle near the front of the room. In other words, I couldn’t hide from the speaker.
His rules were that if you stayed, you had to draw. So, I actually followed everything he did as well as I could. And, by the end of the session, I was exhausted, but I was also cartooning. It was exhilarating. When I came home, I attended other sessions, bought books on cartooning and practiced regularly. Then, life got busier and I haven’t practiced at all in a very long time.
But I know – with practice, I can draw cartoon characters. It would take lots of practice to get good at it, but I can do it. AMAAAZING!
There are some things you can’t fix with practice, practice, practice. If you’re tone deaf, then you’re not going to be singing professionally. If your sense of color is “iffy,” then you may always need help with putting yourself and your décor together. But, you can learn much of what was previously thought to be a matter of talent.
The good news OR the bad news, depending on your viewpoint, is that you can do whatever you choose to do. It just takes practice, practice, practice.