Archive for March 2014

A Blog Can Work Miracles

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

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

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

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

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

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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