How to Find Your Own Generous Heroes of Your Talent

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In the past few weeks, my fourteen year old son Caleb was able to reap still more rewards as a result of having originally taken to documenting his talent journey publicly. By doing this, I mean that he has blogged about his talent and he has been an active participant in an online forum dedicated to supporting a community of bladesmiths. In this community, professionals and serious amateurs encourage each other and share news of the the latest development in the craft and trade.

Caleb’s blogging started a couple years ago when he started to write about his interest in bladesmithing and about the progress in his learning. That consistency allowed him to convince the gatekeeper of the professional bladesmith forum that he should be accepted as a member. Since it is a serious forum dedicated to a serious craft, they understandably do not want people to join who are not going to contribute to the spirit and community of bladesmithers. That is where Caleb’s public blog acted as a calling card to open the doors. His blog was absolutely necessary to have as a young person, to demonstrate his commitment to wanting to learn. He was a novice in a field populated by adult veterans of the craft and without the asset of his blog, it was doubtful he would have been allowed in.

Once inside the forum, Caleb started learning as fast as he could the etiquette of engagement within that professional world. He also learned to ask the right kind of questions in order to make progress in his quest to becoming a better bladesmith. He dutifully read up on previously explained material when told to do so. Because of Caleb’s friendly, but respectful interaction (a couple of social mistakes along the way, from which he quickly recovered), he was able to find out many time-saving and money-saving ideas he could implement in his novice workshop without breaking his small budget. A couple of adults even generously shipped him some tools and resources to encourage him along, while others wrote him personal messages in order to encourage him in his pursuit. As a result, he started making significant progress on his knives. His interaction on this forum has been nothing short of amazing. Had he tried to acquire this level of interaction through the traditional means of networking, he would have broke his parents’ bank in trying to attend expensive summer workshops, flying to distant states, and going to specialized schools. That is even assuming that I would have allowed him to do so at such a young age, which of course I would not have.

Continuing the story of how Caleb recently reaped still more benefits from his online interaction with his talent, he was able to take advantage of an opportunity to accompany his grandparents on a European trip as a means to further consolidate his participation in a small, but vibrant world-wide community of bladesmithers. He boldly contacted four different bladesmiths from the forum that he knew lived in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. I braced him for the fact that of the four requests that he might only get one true invitation. But clearly I was wrong. I had underestimated how strong of a bond there was in this online community. Not one, but all four professionals generously invited him to visit them in their private workshops on their home properties!

Caleb is still in Europe as of this writing, but he has confirmed to me that, with the help of his grandfather as chaperone, he has indeed been able to visit all four bladesmiths and was warmly welcomed. When he comes back next week, I and the rest of the family, can’t wait to hear a full account of his in-real-life encounters with some of the heroes of his talent world. Some heroes were tough with their advice, others more gentle, but all were generous to him in his quest to become better at his talent focus. This is the power of deciding to interact in the community of one’s chosen talent.

If any of you would like to know how to jump-start your own child on his blog, please let me know and I will be glad to share with you what works and doesn’t work. Contact me through the feedback button on this website and I will personally reply back to you. If you are already convinced that blogging is the way-to-go for your son or daughter, I would like you to sign up for the “Blog to Your Talent” e-course. This e-course is designed to walk your young person through a simple 42 lesson plan for starting a new blog related to his or her interest or talent-focus.

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Need a Second Opinion on Your Homeschool Plan

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may goals

Write long-term goals first. Then, and only then, determine your intermediate and immediate goals. (Photo credit: madame.furie)

Need a “second-opinion” on how good your current homeschool strategy is?

Match up your current situation against this back-of-the-napkin approach to coming up with a homeschooling plan for your child:

List the general goals you want your child to reach in his early adulthood. These goals should be ten to fifteen years down the road. Academic goals should only be some of the goals listed. Other educational goals would include family, spiritual, and career goals.

Translate those broad life goals into closer intermediate goals that you would want your child to reach by the time he is eighteen.

Next, translate those intermediate goals you have for your future eighteen year old into very small goals that you could achieve during the coming year.

Once you have that list of goals, you are ready to start shopping and signing up for various educational tools and resources. Every time you ask a friend, browse the web, a school catalog, or sign up for an activity, you should judge its value as to how well it does to getting you closer to your immediate goals.  Does ballet get your daughter closer to becoming a professional author in her adult life? If not, do not sign up. Does the local Remote Control Aircraft club help your child get closer to becoming a great engineer? If so, sign up for it.

The key to all this is to remember that another family’s goals are NOT your goals. Adopting their educational resources by default will only create frustration. This is because their tools are optimized for their specific family goals, not yours. So you must work on understanding what your educational goals are first before you can know which tools make sense for you.

By working backwards from your long-term goals down to your present goals, you will surprise yourself at how much smaller a role traditional academic tools will play in your daily routine. For example, if your daughter wants to actually write books for a living, then joining an online writing club may be far more important than signing up for another Jane Austen course. By working your goals backward in time, you will be able to apportion your child’s time in the right way.

Email me your plan and goals. I will personally read them and give you feedback.

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A Blog Can Work Miracles

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Blogging about your talent and the projects related to trying to build your talent, opens doors for your child to be able to talk directly to the “big dogs” in his chosen field of focus. This is why I encourage every child to blog so he can create a living and growing portfolio that can be used starting today, not for when he turns eighteen or twenty one. In what other way could a young person still living at home use a resume to open doors for him to the experts in his field? A static resume on a white sheet of paper will do absolutely nothing for your child. But a dynamic blog can work miracles.

As a result, my son Nicholas, who is 12 years old, is featured at a Raspberry Pi conference in the UK. See him brought up starting up at the 11 minute mark in this clip. Your homework assignment: can you hear what this expert is saying that made it possible for Nicholas to be able to get through the noise to someone like him?:

Use Instagram for Talent Building

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BladesofBelaq Instagram Profile

Instagram profile for my son’s bladesmithing account

Do you know how to use Instagram for talent building in your child’s life? Go to the TheWiredHomeschool blog and read the article on the benefits of using Instagram. It is a social media tool that has some unique benefits that can’t be duplicated on Facebook or Twitter. The more visual your child’s talent is, the more likely he will be able to leverage his social network connections within that field of talent. I encourage you to start up multiple Instagram accounts, one for each major sub-skill  your child is developing. Each major sub-skill will typically have a different community that your child can connect with and by being very narrowly focused, your child is more likely to really connect with other talented people.

Instagram, Community, and a Relative’s Offer

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talent trip

Caleb leaving for Europe, but all-the-while remaining connected to his world-wide talent community.

Instagram is a popular social media tool in our household. We also use it so that my older children can network with other people in their respective fields of talent. In fact, one of my older boys has multiple Instagram accounts,  a different account for a different type of skill he is trying to develop.

This month, my 14 year old son Caleb, is on a trip to Europe, thanks to a kind invitation from relatives to tag along. He cashed out a portion of his savings for his plane ticket and has made plans to leverage this trip as an opportunity to meet face to face several European blade-smiths in their private workshops. In addition, because of his Instagram network of friends, old and young, who are interested in knife making and in other supporting skills such as the leather working for sheaths and the woodworking for handles, he is also sharing pictures from Europe with them related to their common interest.

When I peeked at Caleb’s Instagram feed today, he was happily sharing some pictures of wood burls he had spotted that he knew would please an expert in his online network. With social media, he is actively building his community and gaining many friends along the way without having to proverbially “run away and join the circus”. His talent community is cheering him along the way and he returns the love in kind. A life filled with real talent can be a life filled with joy.

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Minecraft in My Household

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With Minecraft mania continuing to sweep the nation and the world, is there a way it can be used to help further your child’s talent? Well, maybe. It depends on the skill set your child wants to develop. For my one son who is more focused on metal work, Minecraft has no useful purpose. For my other son who is into areal filming with his remote control drone, it might have a useful purpose. As of yet though, he is unable to get over the stigma of Minecraft being a younger child’s entertainment tool. I might still be able to get him to reconsider. The Minecraft software has this amazing ability to render 3D landscapes very quickly and you can fly within the landscape of your choice and in and around any buildings you design. It would be a cheap and efficient way to work out the various best flying patterns and camera angles BEFORE getting to an real onsite video shoot.

However, there is one younger son for whom Minecraft is starting to prove very useful. Gideon is 10 years old and he is interested in developing some design architectural skills for restaurants. If you are not familiar with Minecraft, it probably needs to be clarified that it is not one-size-fits all piece of entertainment software. After you download the required core Minecraft software (a one time fee of $27), there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of resource packs and modules that you can choose from. The add-ons enhance the virtual world in any number of ways that you want.

Back to Gideon: with the help of an older brother, he found a server site that is particularly keen on attracting other young designers who are interested primarily in critiquing each other’s layouts, rather than chasing and blowing up each other. I have a book on architectural grammar (“Archetypes in Architecture” by Thomas Thiis-Evensen) that I bought years ago, that I’m now reading one very small section at a time to Gideon. After our readings, he goes to his online Minecraft server and applies some of the principles he is learning to his buildings. Right now, he is working on the application of concave and convex walls and vertical walls and low walls to influence the movement and flow of the people in and around a building.

Is it fair that this young boy gets to use Minecraft to help fuel the fire of his talent? Probably not when you consider that most young people will not get to do anything close to designing interesting 3D buildings they can walk around in until they are in late high-school or in college. But then talent is not at all about being average in behavior and about bringing average value to the world. It is about seizing every opportunity at as young an age as possible while still keeping the fire alive. If Minecraft can be one of the bricks on the path to Gideon’s success, we will gladly embrace Minecraft in my household.

Scroll Open the Mind Map

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Mind Mapping

Mind Map talent plans are like war plans: don’t stick blindly to original projections, but aggressively adapt as you go. (Photo credit: For Inspiration Only)

Today my older boys scrolled open the mind maps that they had created a couple months ago and reviewed their old notes. We looked over together the various possibilities that they had written down and compared them to where they are now and where they want to go. Some items were accomplished and some were not. Caleb was able to acquire a professional size belt grinding machine for his metal work. This was thanks to a friend in the community who wanted to share a grinder kit he was putting together for his own needs and wanted to encourage him when he saw the evidence of the current knife work he was doing. Jonathan was able to save up and buy a camera stabilizer for his aerial photography. This was in response to his first few trials at filming real estate property and realizing that a much smoother first time video would save days of post-edit time for his clients.

It was interesting to see that some opportunities had gradually become more fruitful. This was expected, but we didn’t which would work out that way. So those opportunities were then favored while the others were gradually abandoned. This is the right kind of adapting strategy you want to encourage in your child as soon as possible.

At this Mind Map check point today, it was a pleasure for me to realize that the personal confidence and resolve of my two older sons (ages 16 and 14)  had clearly increased even within the short two-month period. I was expecting that the ownership of their talent journey would grow and so I was not disappointed. They are showing more initiative at contacting the necessary people in their field of talent and at trying new ideas to push their talent forward. What I did not expect to grow as quickly, was their ability to be much more emotionally flexible in the light of changing opportunities. In the past, it took a lot more conversations in order to get them to give up an activity or a club that had at first time helped them, but then outlived its usefulness. Now the conversations about ending what needs to be ended are much shorter and perfunctory. They have become decisive!

Yes, daily work discipline will move you forward down a path and it is absolutely necessary, but work discipline will not care about the destination of that path. What you need in addition is the ability to daily make small courageous decisions as to the worthiness of some opportunities over others in the pursuit of 10,000 hours of talent. I’m happy to report that my boys are showing both work discipline and decisiveness.

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Talent Adapts to Evolving Opportunities

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English: Image of double mini trampoline compe...

Acquire small skills and by constant practice push them into the sub-conscience. This freeing up of the mind then allows you to concentrate on the next level up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Excerpt from the book “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle:

“Physical acts are built of chunks. When a gymnast learns a floor routine, he assembles via a series of chunks, which in turn are made up of other chunks…The fluency happens when the gymnast repeats the movements often enough that he knows how to process those chunks as one big chunk.”

Daniel Coyle explains how the ability to perform at very complex levels is acquired slowly by focusing on very small sub-skills first. Once those sub-skills have been mastered, the body  is able to do those skills without the conscious mind having to be busy thinking about them. Once you no longer have to think about those smaller skills, your mind can then concentrate on acquiring the next level up in skills. When that next level up is assimilated, your mind is then freed up again to focus on the next level in complexity. At some point in this iteration, the levels of performance become so amazing and effortless, that bystanders can be tricked into thinking that those performers were born with that ability.

So if you want your child to become super-talented, part of the deliberateness in accumulating 10,000 hours of meaningful practice the talent, is in approaching talent with a strategy of acquiring a whole sequence of small sub-skills, rather than trying to train directly on the whole completed skill.

My added interpretation to what Daniel Coyle is reporting in “The Talent Code” book, is that since a talent is built up sub-skill by sub-skill, you can over time gently nudge and guide your child into acquiring a very different type of sub-skills than had been originally intended to add on top of the first ones. This gives your child wiggle room to gradually bend his talent into a new direction without losing advantage of what was already learned. This is important because your child will want to take advantage of changes in technology and changes in the market place that could not be foreseen at the beginning of his ten years of 10,000 hours training.

Maybe for example your child is learning piano, but you realize that your original plans to become a concert pianist are not lucrative enough to support a family. Maybe you come to realize that adding digital marketing skills and formatting his music for YouTube and cell phones will open up different doors for your son to apply the musical abilities he has already acquired. If you want a strategy that adapts a talent to evolving  opportunities, then go through my workshop “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent”.

 

 

 

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Not Born Into Talent

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Lëtzebuergesch: De Garri Kasparow géint de Com...

Talent is composed of skills that were highly developed for a specific focus. They don’t necessarily bleed over into other areas in life. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Excerpt from the book “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle:

…Instead of using patterns from a real chess game, he set the chess pieces in a random arrangement and reran the test. Suddenly the masters’ advantage vanished. They scored no better than lesser players; in one case, a master chess player did worse than a novice. The master players didn’t have photographic memories; when the game stopped resembling chess, their skills evaporated…

Daniel Coyle, author of the book “The Talent Code“, explains that it is commonly believed that super-talented people, such as world-famous master chess players, are born at birth with superior abilities, such as a superior photographic memory in the case of chess players. This common belief is a false belief. He goes on to explain in the book how it has been debunked. Through simple and clever research experiments, you can show that top talented players have very average abilities in other parts of their lives as soon as the normal patterns of their talent focus disappear. For example, master chess players exhibited very average memory abilities as soon as their mind was asked to deal with anything else outside of chess itself, even though their memory was superior when dealing directly with chess. Had the players been born with superior photographic abilities to hold data in memory then that ability would have exhibited itself in the other areas of that chess player’s life. Instead superior memory was constrained to just the world of chess.

The conclusion of this research is that enhanced memory performance was acquired through training, and not through genetic endowment, through years of dedicated focus. Because of this specialized memory training, their minds could easily recall at lightning speed all the chess patterns they had previously studied.

Here is my application of what Daniel Coyle is saying:

There is the danger that you will start your young person on a wrong talent path. What I mean is that you might invest too much time becoming very good at something which will not matter to your child in his adult life. I’m speaking here in the context of making long-term decisions because one might believe a child was “born” as a soccer player or violin player or mathematician at birth. Since it is not true that a child is born into talent, but rather grown into it, then it stands to reason that you can favor and grow one or more particular skills over other skills. This is good because your child does not have to become a “starving artist” or a girl with an expensive hobby to support. You can confidently banish the belief that whatever small inkling of a talent is detected in a child must automatically be accepted by his parents as his destiny.

So now this is the part where I can help you. If you first accept that talent is indeed grown and not born, then I would like to share with you the logic of how and why you can go about growing some aspects of talent over others in your child’s life (hint: it is not a random selection process). I share that all with you in my downloadable guide entitled “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent

 

 

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Mentors and Parents

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Finding a mentor who is both good at his craft and good at being able to share with a younger person can be a difficult match (photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 5 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“in sports generally, seeing the results of practice is no problem…Difficulties arise when the results require interpretation. You may believe you played that bar of the Brahms Violin Concerto perfectly, but can you really trust your own judgment? Or you may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts. These are situations in which a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback”.

Geoffrey Colvin explains that mentors often play a big role in many of the very talented people. I agree. But actually finding a mentor for your minor child can be a difficult task for you as a parent to accomplish in getting your child to grow in his 10,000 hours of talent. Thankfully not every field of talent needs a traditional mentor, at least not at every point in the process on the path to becoming super-talented. Nonetheless, if you can enlist the help of some type of a mentor for your child, it makes the journey a lot easier.

Here are the two common difficulties when trying to find a suitable mentor or coach for your child:

  • Difficulty #1: finding an expert who has experiences that could actually benefit your child, but who is not willing or capable of sharing with a younger person
  • Difficulty #2: finding an expert who is actually willing to share and has great experiences in the particular talent field, but whose personal life is so out of control that it could inadvertently harm your child

The workaround to difficulty number one can often be found by going online to specialized forums where experts give advice to each other about their talent. They are often willing to dispense kind tips to beginners who are showing themselves serious.

The workaround to difficulty number two can often be found by breaking down the skills into still further sub-skills and then to go find new and different mentors that match up to those sub-skills.

The younger the child, the more you may want to consider the strategy of enlisting the help of multiple mini-coaches or mini-mentors. The older the child, the more your child will be able to sell himself to a skeptical mentor by the evidence of the work he would have already accumulated. The older the child, the more he will also be able to separate a person’s great expertise in one area from any of the mentor’s personal ethical problems that are outside his craft.

Whatever the relationship with mentors, always stay in charge. Do not let yourself be substituted as the parent when giving the ethical direction to your child’s life. A beloved coach or mentor should be respected for the value he adds to your child’s life, but the mentor should not be expected to have to carry the burden and responsibility of being a substitute parent.

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In the Summer Time of Your Life

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English: Harvest at Ardgowan While most of the...

There is a season of opportunity for youth that will not normally be repeated – teach your children to seize it! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some Biblical proverbs are listed here below to encourage us to teach our children to be quick about working on the opportunities available so easily and freely to them in their youth – that is, they will reap future rewards far above their peers, if they start acting on them now. The 10,000 hours journey to amazing talent has to start today, before the window to easy opportunities closes.

He that gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,

but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

To everything there is a season

and a time to every purpose under heaven.

How long will you lie down, O sluggard?

When will you arise from your sleep?

Your poverty will come in like a vagabond,

and your need like an armed man.

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,

but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Do you see a man skilled in his work?

He will stand before kings.

He will NOT stand before obscure men.

In all labor there is profit,

but mere talk leads only to poverty.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,

but the soul of the diligent is made fat.

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Cranking Out What We Already Know How to Do

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 5 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

…work, like deliberate practice, is often mentally demanding and tiring. But that’s typically not because of the intense focus and concentration involved. Rather, it’s more often a result of long hours cranking out what we already know how to do. And if we’re exhausted from that, the prospect of spending additional hours on genuine deliberate practice activities seems too miserable to contemplate.

Geoffrey Colvin goes into detail as why working as an employee for someone is not a substitute to having a personal plan to develop your talent. Hard repetitious work can be confused for skill development because both can drain you emotionally and physically. You are normally hired to do something you are already capable to do task wise. You just need a few pointers to get started and then after that, your employer’s goal, is to get you to be as productive as possible by doing the same thing over and over.

By definition, if you are repeating what you already know what to do very well, then you are not growing in your talent. This means that if a young adult does not have a plan for deliberately pushing the boundaries of what he does and knows outside of what he is hired to do, he will often get stuck for years on end at the same level of performance. This is why I recommend regular conversations with your child on how get himself to the next level of his performance. One way to do that is by getting him comfortable with looking at and owning the big picture of where his talent can take him through the use of a mind map.

The Ten Year Rule Applies

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Bobby Fischer at the age of 17 playing world c...

Bobby Fischer at the age of 17 playing world champion Mikhail Tal – it took him ten years of training to get himself to the top. He was able to start very young. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 4 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

Even Bobby Fischer was not an exception; when he became a grand master at age sixteen, he had been studying chess intensively for nine years. Subsequent research in a wide range of fields has substantiated the ten-year rule everywhere the researchers have looked. In math, science, musical composition, swimming, X-ray diagnosis, tennis, literature—no one, not even the most “talented” performers, became great without at least ten years of very hard preparation. If talent means that success is easy or rapid, as most people seem to believe, then something is obviously wrong with a talent-based explanation of high achievement.

Geoffrey Colvin reports that if one is going to take seriously the desire to become good at something than you must embrace the expectation that it is going to take at least ten years to outdo and reach above the current generation of your peers. No exception. Except I will add here an exception to that rule, without actually invalidating the Ten Year Rule (also known as the 10,000 hour rule). If your child chooses to engage himself in a talent that is in a new field of human activity or in a new cross-over of skills that did not exist before, than I believe your child will not have to train ten years to get to the top.

In a crowded talent field where there are tens of thousands of accomplished practitioners, such as in the violin world, your child will have a very arduous journey ahead in order to be heard over and above all the other great performers. However if you think of a talent field that is new and combined with a way to serve the needs of people, then maybe five thousand judicious hours, instead of 10,000 hours, will allow your child to become one of the best in his field. This is why I recommend parents help their children find opportunities in interesting talent cross-over fields where the supply is not yet over-abundant.

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Spend More Time with the Component Skills of Child’s Talent

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Jerry Rice signing autographs in 2006.

Jerry Rice signing autographs in 2006.He was one of the most famous football players of all time, yet his 10,0000 hours of practice time involved little actual football practice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 4 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

That’s about 1,000 hours a year, or 20,000 hours over his pro career. He [Jerry Rice] played 303 career NFL games—the most ever by a wide receiver—and if we assume the offense had the ball half the time on average, that’s about 150 hours of playing time as measured by the game clock; this may be overstated, since Rice wasn’t on the field for every play. The conclusion we reach is that one of the greatest-ever football players devoted less than 1 percent of his football-related work to playing games.

Geoffrey Colvin gives the example of Jerry Rice’s well-documented training regimen as an example of how practicing and training to be one of the best in your talent field does not mean performing the publicly recognizable part of it every hour of your practice time. What this example shows is that top people will break down the component skills of what they need in and then focus on improving those component skills.

In the case of Jerry Rice this meant practicing separate skills like sprinting and weightlifting even though they weren’t visibly and directly related to holding a football. But he knew that by isolating certain skills, it would make a huge difference to his final talent. See if you can apply this to your child’s situation. Take a look at his or her current practice regimen: can you pull back on some of the outward visible performance part of his or her talent and instead use that time to develop more thoroughly a key component skill?

 

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Grades Matter But Caveat Emptor!

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Ponder this excerpt of a blog post from the author Daniel Schwabauer. He is best known as the celebrated host of the online “One Year Adventure Novel” program for getting young people to finish their real first novel. He gives this cautionary bit of advice to aspiring writers about demanding and interesting, but in-the-end essentially irrelevant university degrees:

“I graduated from Kansas University with a Masters degree in Creative Writing, an experience from which I am still recovering. Not that I mean to disparage KU’s writing program. Science fiction notable and KU Professor Jim Gunn was one of the best instructors I’ve ever had.

What bothers me is the fact that I left KU having learned a lot about words, and very little about story. This is remarkable considering my experience with a wide variety of classes and teachers. I studied British and American literature, Shakespeare, drama, poetry, short fiction, novels, technical writing, ancient myths, medieval English, essays, even sci-fi. I studied every conceivable kind of writing. But…”

This candid reflection by a professional writer about college helps me to revisit this subject of grades in full context. Remember that in a previous post I disparaged the pursuit of good grades. Here I come back to add a disclaimer and clarification of what I mean. Good grades do matter, but in specific situations only. You need to be sure that your child fits that specific situation or you might be missing out on having your child construct a real life-long talent that will change your son or daughter’s life.

Follow with me the chain of reasoning as to why good grades do matter for some children:

  1. Your child getting good grades matters now if you are intending for your child to pursue a specific program of study at the university level.
  2. And you must have a researched plan that the university program is indeed preparing your child to do something directly related to his long term plan.
  3. And you must be convinced that the university program your child will pursue is the most efficient route to his success in the talent field he wants to be in.
  4. And some paths require you to go through university, such as to get medical training to become a doctor, and an engineering degree for certifications in order to be allowed to work.

However many children intending to go to college, do not fit the above criteria. Be careful as your child may find himself seduced by the idea of campus life as an easy answer as to what he is going to do with his first few years of adulthood. A talented young writer for example should probably do everything in his or her power to stay away from college.

If your child is already very good at producing work others want to read, universities will want to recruit your child to beef up their star status in hopes of recruiting other students who can and will pay full tuition. This come-hither inducement with scholarships and preferential tuition rates can be dangerous to your child’s talent development. Why? Because the skills acquired during the course of a university English degree are designed for consumption and analysis of the works produced by others – not for teaching your child how to create amazing new works. So unless your child is intending to become a high school English teacher, the college degree will set him back severely in both time and money. This time set-back is often serious enough that your son or daughter may never get back on track to the original aspirations. Caveat emptor!

Good Grades – So What?

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English: Siemens Velaro D at InnoTrans 2010 af...

Don’t let the pursuit of good grades distract you from where your child should be spending his precious time in order to move into the talent zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good grades in schoolwork are good for your child right? Yes…or maybe not. Here’s very often why not. To get grades in traditional courses, your child will have to study very diligently and consciously to memorize the details and understand the principles. So far so good, as far as demonstrating that you and your child are not slackers and can take in what others dish out.

But here’s the problem:

In the pursuit of grades, you don’t stop to think about why you are deciding for your child to become that well taught in that very specific narrow course that was handed to you. This is dangerous because he is spending all his time becoming very good at something that is irrelevant for his adult life. Your child’s opportunity to find a talent early enough in life can slip away while you weekly and monthly spend hours becoming very good on all the fine points of English grammar. Yes, your child will never later be stumped on any difficult point of grammar. But then the adult world will stun him later with the message “So what? Just use the PC spell checker. By the way, what can you do to bring value to my company before I hire you?”

There is a place for grades and a place for courses, but you must never let them dictate the time and depth to impose on your child’s education. Instead, map out a talent course for your child, and then find those courses that fit your child’s trajectory. Sometimes you will want your child to aim for a C  grade even though your child could aim for an A – because he is too busy becoming great in this other area that is outside of the chartered waters.

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IQ Matters Only in the Classroom

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English: Classroom in SIM University.

Having high IQ in the classroom predicts little about how talented your child will be in adult life. Something else predicts his success. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 3 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

The toll it was taking on him was large. “All right, all right, all right,” he muttered after Ericsson read him the list. “All right! All right. Oh . . . geez!” He clapped his hands loudly three times, then grew quiet and seemed to focus further. “Okay. Okay. . . . Four-thirteen-point-one!” he yelled. He was breathing heavily. “Seventy-seven eighty-four!” He was nearly screaming. “Oh six oh three!” Now he was screaming. “Four-nine-four, eight-seven-oh!” Pause. “Nine-forty-six!” Screeching now. Only one digit left. But it isn’t there. “Nine-forty-six-point . . . Oh, nine-forty-six-point . . .” He was screaming and sounding desperate. Finally, hoarse and strangled: “TWO!”

Above is an excerpt from a humorous section of the book on talent. Geoffrey Colvin relays the true story of a young man of average intelligence who was the first to break the human barrier of being able to memorize 7 given random digits. What was astonishing about this story is that within a short time of crossing the age old limit of about 7 data points (maybe 9 points at the outer limits), this young college student quickly increased his ability to such a point that he could memorize hundreds of digits at a time, randomly read to him. It was thought impossible for humans to do that. Not only that, once he had understood how he was memorizing differently, the researchers were then able to pass on this up-until-then superhuman ability to other just as average college students.

Also emphasized in Geoffrey Colvin’s narration in this chapter is that this student was of average IQ level. He also explained that studies confirmed that a high IQ in a person did predict that individual would be able to do very well in classroom assigned work…but ONLY in school classroom work and not in anything outside of the strict limits of the classroom. High IQ’s had NO predictive power to single out who was actually going to be able to do well in a particular field of human talent.

Yes, there was one small advantage outside of the classroom for those with high IQ: if you had a high IQ it did seem to predict that you would perform better than others at the beginning stages of a newly introduced skill. But that early stage advantage disappeared quickly and low IQ individuals could just as well or better if they stayed at learning the skill beyond the early phase.

So why is there is no correlation between amazing talent and high IQ? This is because IQ measures only certain type of intelligence, a type of classroom cleverness if-you-will, but outside the classroom, applied talent only uses a very small proportion of that intelligence in favor of other skills and intelligence merging together in the right place and proportion. This would mean that unless you intend for your child to become a professional test taker, you should not rely on your child’s IQ levels to carry him to success. Instead you should have your son or daughter focus on the special skills and abilities of the talent your child wants to master for his life-long success.

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Mozart Trained for 18 Years for his First Amazing Score

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Family portrait: Maria Anna ("Nannerl&quo...

Mozart started his training at age 3: Family portrait: Maria Anna (“Nannerl”) Mozart, her brother Wolfgang, their mother Anna Maria (medallion) and father, Leopold Mozart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 2 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“Mozart’s father was of course Leopold Mozart, a famous composer and performer in his own right. He was also a domineering parent who started his son on a program of intensive training in composition and performing at age three…Wolfgang’s first four piano concertos, composed when he was eleven, actually contain no original music by him…Mozart’s first work regarded today as a masterpiece, with its status confirmed by the number of recordings available, is his Piano Concerto No. 9, composed when he was twenty-one. That’s certainly an early age, but we must remember that by then Wolfgang had been through eighteen years of extremely hard, expert training. This is worth pausing to consider. Any divine spark that Mozart may have possessed did not enable him to produce world-class work quickly or easily”

In case after case, Geoffrey Colvin goes on to explain that the famous people who are known worldwide for their amazing skills had to work very hard at being that good. Their work regimen contradicts the popular notion that such people are born talented. It is also true that they usually started very young and were strongly guided by their parents hopes and plans. It is their parents oversight that allowed them to focus with such intensity without too many distractions from the normal school routines that other school children would have to follow. This is good news because it implies that parents can deliberately copy the parental pattern of encouraging talent in their own child, starting in their home. That difference in time between starting at age 12 and age 22 can be a good ten years of talent creation. Your child could easily fit his 10,000 hours of deliberate practice by the time other adult children are just beginning to look for a productive output.

 

 

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Not a Random Process for Talent Discovery

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de: Doktor Livesey und Squire Trelawney unters...

Do you have a map for discovering the talent in your children or are you going to randomly check out several thousand beaches? Get your Talent Guide! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once you understand that you can start deliberately planning for a life long talent in each one of your children, it becomes a very exciting lifestyle for everyone in the family. It is no longer a random process for the parents or the child.

In order to get started working on a talent, the key is to latch onto something tangible for your child.

Therefore, creating a focus of interest on which your child can build the first 100 hours of a talent is the outcome of the workshop I provide in the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

When you have a process, then you will not have your child waste his time with what might really turn out to be:

  • a party trick
  • a quaint hobby
  • or a distraction to fill your child’s spare time

Instead with the right plan on how your child can build himself a real talent, he is  going to at the same time be able to:

  • create value for other people
  • rise above the crowd
  • and live a professional life with passion

Don’t invent the process from scratch, because you can get the right process now from here:

“How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent”

 

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The Precocious Must Work Just as Hard for Talent

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Chica tocando el violín

To get to the top, both average and early “talented” children have to go through the same grueling 10,000 hours of training. There is no break for the precocious. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Quote by Geoff Colvin in chapter 2 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“By age twelve, the researchers found, the students in the most elite group were practicing an average of two hours a day versus about fifteen minutes a day for the students in the lowest group, an 800 percent difference…nothing it turned out, enabled any group to reach any given grade level [of musical ability] without putting in those hours…To put the results in their starkest terms: Shown five groups of students, one of which won positions at a top-ranked music school and one of which gave up even trying to play an instrument, we would all say that the first group is obviously immensely more talented…but…they were not.”

As it turns out even for children whom people would normally label as precocious in their early childhood ability to carry out a tune, that it would have little to no impact on their future ability to be world-class instrumental players. It seemed that without severe and extensive training, no amount of preciousness or innate ability in a child could allow him to avoid the same amount of effort that an otherwise average child would need to in order to become just as amazingly great. The conclusion therefore is that the super-talented are grown, not born, into their superhuman performance abilities. This principle of talent applies to all other fields of human talent.

My personal (not the author’s) added caveat to parents is to be careful about investing yourself in a skill-set for which you think your child has innate talent when it might have no practical future or use in their adult life. To become outstanding in some fields, your child would still have to put in 10,000 hours of hard dedicated work, but there might be little room to make a living or even to perform that talent for others for free. There might already be too many people that good and adding your child to that crowd is not adding much more to the world. That talent pursuit in an already crowded room of performers is not a “free” opportunity to your child as pursuing it would mean not having time becoming great in a field where others wholeheartedly welcome your child.

So when I recommend developing talent, I mean it should be talent that will bring great ADDED value to others. This is why I recommend you work through the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent” so you avoid the pitfalls of latching on to a flamboyant, but completely irrelevant talent.

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