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3 by-products of your teenager pursuing talent NOW

isolated ocean of knowledge

 

Have you ever found that a review of a favorite book really does a good job bringing it home?

Here is an excerpt from a book reviewer on Amazon commenting on the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin

“The benefits of deliberate practice are that we perceive more, know more, and remember more in a specific domain of knowledge that we have chosen. This makes us more aware of our uniqueness as well as the uniqueness in others. The [Talent is Overrated] book suggests that over time we develop mental models of how our domain functions as a system.

As a result, we connect with every day events not as an isolated bit of data but as part of a large and comprehensive picture.”

I agree with this reader’s comment. The earlier your teenage son or daughter can find a way to focus around a long term talent, the more amazingly easy it is for him to succeed at what he wants to do.

This is because he is not learning one hour here in this subject and one hour over there in that subject. In a person without a specific talent focus, those are two disconnected work hours of his life spent learning various factoids pulled from two different domains of knowledge, but having little-to-no benefit of bringing added-value to each domain.

However, in a talent-focused child, those two hours are more than just two sequential hours of work. The two domains of knowledge augment each other’s value. This is because a big vision for the purpose of one’s daily work triggers an integration between normally separate domains of knowledge and skills.

This is the ideal: each new hour of learning in one domain is an hour that can be counted on to augment the value in another domain. It is a type of compounding effect.

Example: a 15 year old young man has a passion for flying and has easy access to training hours because of a good pilot friend of the family.

He discovers through the chatter from other pilots that there is growing demand for paid flight instructors on American soil to teach the future pilots from China and Japan (true story!). He hears that this new and growing demand is coming from the commercial airlines in those countries who prefer to have their people trained here. The English language and culture for communicating between pilots is the preferred common ground. This is creating opportunities for young pilots to start early careers.

This causes him to drop his Latin language course and decide to instead do daily language Skype exchanges with other young men from mainland China and Tokyo. This triggers an interest to dive deep into the WWII history of Asia (thus tying in another subject area).

As his pilot training increases, he then realizes that his love for the science of aeronautics is growing. This causes him to sign up for a special online course that will help him take a college level examination course in aeronautics.

I will stop at this point in the example, as I think you have now gotten the point.

Here is three by-products of pursuing talent on your young person’s mental health:

  1. He will no longer experience that feeling of anxiety about all the things he does not know.
  2. He will no longer feel isolated in an ocean of knowledge
  3. But he will feel himself a conqueror on the verge of contributing something unique in his generation.

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Make Acceleration Feats Routine

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Daniel Coyle says the following in this excerpt from “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” (p. 84 in Kindle Edition):

in seven weeks, most students will learn a year’s worth of material, an increase of about 500 percent in learning speed. Among the students, this acceleration is well known but only dimly understood…

These feats are routine…

The goal is always the same: to break a skill into its component pieces (circuits), memorize those pieces individually, then link them together in progressively larger groupings…

Through practice, they had developed something more important than mere skill; they’d grown a detailed conceptual understanding that allowed them to control and adapt their performance, to fix problems, and to customize their circuits to new situations. They were thinking in chunks and had built those chunks into a private language of skill…

 

Being self-aware of how one is learning accelerates talent growth. Good coaches and good mentors can help teach awareness. And parents, especially parents, can cultivate that awareness at an early age. Awareness can also be deliberately developed by the young person himself as he gets older, but why leave it for him to find out on his own at a much later age?

If your child becomes self-aware about how and why he is able to learn, he can then accelerate his progress in his chosen area of talent. He learns how to decompose the actual learning process itself so that he doesn’t have to keep increasing the sheer number of brute working hours. By understanding how to change strategy or technique along the way, you will be giving your young person the mental tools to take control of the direction and speed of his learning.

Parents, think carefully: are you actively encouraging that mindset or are you letting the outline of a textbook dictate the best strategy for making progress?

Make acceleration feats routine.

Cautionary Tales Protect From Danger

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In every field of human endeavor there are real dangers, physical, emotional, and moral. It is better to learn about those specific dangers early on to avoid experiencing the painful consequences of wrong decisions. Cautionary Tales are a good way for your child to hear and assimilate the consequences of such dangers.

An excellent source for Cautionary Tales can be found in the biographies of famous talented people that are in your child’s field of interest. Another excellent source is from older and very experienced talented individuals who can scare you with stories of colleagues who lost an arm to a saw after failing to get enough sleep or of a friend who lost a lifetime of savings because they signed a contract without first getting advice. It can also be hearing about social boundaries that were not respected, such as about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who even though was immensely successful in his talent, had completely failed morally with his wife and children. His friends testified to his tragic failings, even while acknowledging his immense architectural talent.

Another place for your son or daughter to hear about cautionary tales is in the online forums or meetups where people of a similar talent congregate. Recently, my son who has an interest in bladesmithing, heard of a tragic ending to someone who disregarded the direction of the wheel turning during the final phase of buffing a blade. The knife then got accidentally caught in the high-velocity upward motion of the wheel and fatally impaled the worker. Result of taking shortcuts: immediate death. Having heard that, my son is now always making sure the wheel is working in the right direction. The cautionary tale served its purpose.

Scare them straight.

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Updated May 2014

IQ Matters Only in the Classroom

 

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 more than 7 given random digits. What was astonishing about this story is that within a short time of crossing the previous 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 they had understood how he was memorizing differently, the researchers were then able to transfer this new ability to other college students who were just as average as the one first who creatively found a different way of memorizing. The point is this: ground breaking advancements in human abilities does not depend on high-IQ. This example of getting humans to go to the next level with regards to memory also showed that having or not-having a high IQ had little to do with finding the way to the next level of performance.

Emphasized in Geoffrey Colvin’s narration in this chapter is that this student was of average IQ level. This new ability to memorize did not come about because the individual had a high IQ. He explained that previous studies had confirmed that a high IQ only predicted that an individual would be able to do very well in classroom assigned work…but it ONLY predicted he would do well in the context of a classroom. It did not predict any special outcome in abilities or performance outside of the strict limits of the classroom. In short, 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.

There was one small acknowledged 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 if the average IQ individuals stayed focused on learning the new skills beyond the early stages of learning. After the initial stages, other factors that contribute to success completely take over and drown out any differences in IQ levels (note: that is, as long as the person wasn’t significantly below average intelligence or had a clear impediment).

So why is there is no correlation between amazing talent and high IQ? Because IQ measures only a certain type of intelligence, a type of classroom cleverness if-you-will, but outside of the classroom, any specific real-life talent only uses a very small proportion of that type of intelligence in order for it to be effective in the real world. It turns out that other skills and types of intelligences merging together in the right combination and proportions is much more important than having just a high-IQ. 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 the high levels of success to be found outside of his formal schooling days.

Conclusion: a high IQ can help you on the classroom portions of formal learning, but you can not depend on it for success outside of the classroom. Both high and average IQ individuals had the same advantage as regards to extraordinary potential for talent achievement.

(updated 1/17/2015)

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Audio Books for Ages 5 to 8

Here are some audio books I recommend for the listening pleasure of children ages five to eight years old. It’s a great way to relax your children after a busy day’s work and they will soak in the sounds and rhythm of the English language. Bonus: you can feel virtuous enjoying some quiet catch up time with your spouse while your children are in their room mesmerized by the the classic storytelling.

This list of audiobooks would also be non-irritating for parents to listen to while on a long car ride with young children. In fact they would be more than tolerable:  it represents about 45 hours of delicious voice acting. If you consider that children will love to listen to them at least three times over, that’s about 135 hours of listening time!

 

A Bear Called Paddington” by Michael Bond

(over 2.5 hours long)

 

More About Paddington” by Michael Bond

(over 2.5 hours long)

 

Thumbelina and Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

(over 2.5 hours long)

 

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales” by Beatrix Potter

(almost 6 hours long)

 

Wind in the Willows” read by Jim Weiss

(over 6.5 hours long)

 

Andrew Lang Fairy Books (Blue, etc) by Andrew Lang

(over 14 hours long)

 

Winnie the Pooh (dramatized) by A.A. Milne

(2 hours long)

 

The Golden Key by George MacDonald:

(1 hour long)

 

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald:

(almost 6 hours long)

 

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

(1.5 hours long)

 

How Publishing a NON-FICTION Book Gets Done by Tom Woods

Sneak peek by “celebrity” Tom Woods on how publishing a NON-FICTION book gets done today. Economics and political analysis and teaching is part of that person’s talent and he has something to write about that others want to read. If you have a young person that hopes to one day write about his talent for book publishing, in order to support himself financially, listen to this very clear podcast.

Tom Woods reveals that the numbers are NEVER in the millions of copies, even when you make it to the best seller’s list. Set your money expectations accordingly. He explains the role of books opening doors for you in your overall strategy of providing your talent value to the world. It is part of a broad approach to your talent market, not a single strategy for supporting yourself (he even talks about a blog as part of his strategy!) He has had eleven books published so far. He knows what he is talking about as a successful author.

He covers these topics in this episode: 

How do I submit a manuscript to a big publisher?

Do I need an agent?
How do I find one?
What are the benefits of traditional publishing?
What are the benefits of self-publishing?
How much does an author earn from the sale of a book?
How many books do nonfiction authors typically sell?
What’s the indispensable ingredient for getting media exposure for my book?

 

Several Modest Skills in Unique Combination

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“Contrary to conventional wisdom, success in entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily related to being the best at any particular activity. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert comic series, explains his success this way:

‘I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The Dilbert comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected  in one person. That’s how value is created.’  “

*Quote from the book “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living” by Chris Guillebeau.

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How to Trust Her with Freedoms in the Teenage Years

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Guest post by Renee Harris:

I was so encouraged after writing “Philosophy for Five Year Olds.”

That’s because the feedback from several readers was that:

      1. those who recognized the need for laying a foundation of discipline and obedience before jumping into the books had no regrets of starting in this order, and
      2. those who launched their curriculum before having these important steps in place wished they wouldn’t have given in to the pressure of doing school at home.

As promised, I want to suggest a valuable resource that we found very encouraging when our children were young:

Raising Godly Tomatoes by Elizabeth Krueger

We love that book so much we bought ten copies and have shared them with friends over the years.

My favorite concept is what Elizabeth calls “tomato staking.” Have you ever planted a tomato plant but neglected to prop up the vines as the plant started to grow? The plant grows fast and wild, with large, juicy fruit that weighs the branches down. Without structure, the branches grow into a heap and the tomato fruit that should have been round, ripe and delicious instead begins to rot, feeding the local insects instead of your family.

The well-cared for plant is given structure, a nurturing environment, room to grow, with strong supportive stakes to hold up the weight of the heavy branches. This is how you should grow your child. Ideally, start when your child is old enough to communicate to start tomato staking.

How does Tomato Staking work?

From the time your child is an infant, he is within a few feet of you, learning from you, listening to your voice and tone, watching how you interact with those around you, and receiving plenty of love and attention. As your child grows, you still keep him near you, even if it is not within direct eyesight, and expect his behavior and actions to meet your expectations. What happens if you hand over this privilege of molding and guiding to someone else too soon? Your child’s behavior will meet the (probably low) expectations of those around him. Remember how difficult it is to hold another person’s child that you are babysitting to the same level of behavioral accountability as your own, even though your are at least physically responsible for the child’s safety? If not much is expected, not much will be produced. Then as your trust grows in the maturity of your child’s actions, you can gradually give the corresponding freedom.

It looks like this in practice: while they are still earning your trust, your young children are within feet of you. You are there to correct small infractions and prevent bickering conversations. While you may feel like this young person is violating your space, as your child is learning correct behavior, he stops becoming an invader and becomes a joy to be with. Your son will sit at the counter to watch you chop carrots, and your daughter will enjoy small tasks like shucking corn (however long it takes to complete the task!). He learns to respectfully listen while you chat on the telephone, and she’ll find joy in separating the nickels and pennies in the coin jar.

Watch what happens if you hand over parental trust to the general public before your child has earned trust from you:

      • Your five year old surprises you with mildly inappropriate language because he hears it from young children in the neighborhood. (How to avoid this? Limit the amount of random time your child spends with other children. We had a set schedule that our kids could spend with other kids, while on our property and within our view.)
      • Your seven year old says he is finished with a task when in truth, he only half completed it. (How to avoid this? At age five, you gave small tasks and made sure your son completed the job correctly the first time. With any issues of lying, he was disciplined, not ignored.)
      • Your four year old lies about the artwork she has so meticulously created on the wall with a permanent marker. (How to avoid this? When she was two, she already learned that she was not to touch the permanent markers, and for the first few years of her life, she was always with you to learn appropriate behavior until she could be trusted not to get into mischief with the markers)
      • Ignoring your child is taking the easy way out, at least at first – but you will run into problems later.

Have you ever met the family where all the children enjoyed the vegetables that were served to them at the dinner table? Did the parents wait until they were teenagers and then expect them to suddenly like vegetables? No. They were raised on good food and good habits. The same goes with the basics of trust, honesty, respect, finishing a job they started, and making good choices when no one is there to check on them.

Here’s why you need those basic character traits established now:

      • You need your five year old to be able to set up, play with, and clean up his Lego’s in the span of thirty minutes, with the timer set.
      • Your seven year old should have no problem finding sharpened pencils and paper to do his artwork with.
      • Your ten year old should complete his online math lesson and correct his own work, and then report to you to show you his work without your prompting.
      • Your 12 year old should look to you as his mentor, not his killjoy, and he will respect your ideas and suggestions.
      • Your 14 year old can be trusted on the internet to research his work without wandering to inappropriate sites, even though you’re not in the room to double check.
      • Your 16 year old can be counted on to take the car on errands and return with the receipts, purchasing the items on your list.
      • And so on…

If you can’t say that you have the trust you need in your child, you need to go back to tomato staking and build him or her up to that level of trust again…no matter what age your child is. This means even teenagers can be asked to give up their Friday nights with friends and give up their cell phones and their car privileges, if you find you can no longer trust them to handle those resources appropriately. Instead they can spend their time in close proximity with you at home until the trust rebuilds.

When you keep them near you in their younger years, you can trust them with the freedoms you grant them in their teenage years.

For more ideas on tomato staking, including what Elizabeth calls intense tomato staking, occasional tomato staking, loose tomato staking, and lifestyle tomato staking, read Raising Godly Tomatoes.

 

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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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Not Born Into Talent

 

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

Mir's Legacy - The core modules of the Interna...

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 carry the burden and responsibility of being a substitute parent.

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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

 

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

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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Mozart Trained for 18 Years for his First Amazing Score

 

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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Better Than Before

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 1 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“When Tchaikovsky finished writing his Violin Concerto in 1878, he asked the famous Leopold Auer to give the premier performance. Auer studied the score and said no – he thought the work was unplayable. Today every young violinist graduating from Juilliard can play it. The music is the same, the violins are the same, and human beings haven’t changed. But people have learned how to perform much, much better.”

Geoffrey Colvin reports that in most areas of human performance, when people apply themselves with deliberate practice, they easily outperform, even at a young age, the masters of just a couple a generations ago. This is because no one is born a violinist, or a doctor, or an accomplished science-fiction writer, but rather they are taught specific skills and train themselves deliberately over many years with the latest techniques in skill development. This increased achievement is widespread across all human endeavor and reminds us that GREATNESS can indeed be achieved in your child – that is IF you stop letting yourself be misled by the idea that greatness is simply “discovered” wholly-formed in your child. Rather greatness in a talent is developed through hard planning, hard work, and with a lots of support by the parents during the early years.

They Will Be Just Fine (and no more than that)

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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 1 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“We tell our kids that if they just word, they’ll be fine. It turns out that this is exactly right. They’ll be fine , just like all those other people who work at something for most of their lives and get along perfectly acceptably but never become particularly good at it”

Geoffrey Colvin goes on to report that the research he looked at shows that the number of years of hard work spent in a particular field of human activity has NO relationship to the level of excellence by individuals in many, many different fields, including for example medicine and law enforcement. It seems that straight-forward experience is a very poor predictor of outstanding ability. And it seems that any innate talent that one may have at birth has very little predicting power as to how good one will be in adult life.

So what does Geoffrey Colvin say will far outdo any gifting at birth and outdo just years of hard work?

Answer: DELIBERATE PRACTICE!

Talent Books to Pump You Up

These four books on the topic of talent development will set you on fire and make you believe that you as a parent can in fact craft a future for your child that is full of hope and possibility. Beyond hard work, there is a strategy and system to developing world-class talent and it is clearly explained in these books. Click on my affiliate links below to get them shipped to your home today.

How to Become as Good a Writer as Emily Brontë of Wuthering Heights

English: Top Withens, said to have been the in...

Emily Brontë’s obsessive childhood practice and parental allowance for the time for her to practice were key to creating the talent that wrote  “Wuthering Heights” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you have a daughter who might actually become a very good writer, good enough for other people to really want to read her works? How can she become that talented if she is not born with that level of talent? There are two things you and your child can do to foster that level of talent growth. One depends on your child’s effort and the other depends on you as the parent.

Consider Emily Jane Brontë  who wrote the famous literary work “Wuthering Heights.” She spent her teenage years with her sisters re-writing and imitating the popular magazines stories of the time that came through her household. According to Juliet Barker, a curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Hawort, their childhood novella plots were overwrought and their spelling and punctuation was atrocious. There was no sign of genius. But as they continually worked through their stories, with the children collaborating together in their attempts at storytelling, they got better and better by sheer persistence, practice, and self-correction. What was also important was that their father was instrumental in their literary success by giving them the massive amount of time necessary in their younger years to fully explore their writing skills. Clearly the Brontë girls were not born with the the full talent for writing, but were born in a household committed to the practice of writing. They put in their 10,000 hours of talent practice.

For more interpretation on how talent was really acquired by the Brontë sisters, read:

(Affiliate) “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How.” by Daniel Coyle

 

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Audio Books for Relaxed Evenings

Candles composition

Candles for you and your wife while the children listen in their beds to wonderful audio books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you and your spouse want to have some private evenings of relaxation without having to leave home or hire a babysitter?

Audio books to the rescue!

Your children can listen to captivating unabridged voice-acted stories in their bedrooms while drawing quietly, playing Legos, or just lying dreamily on their beds. Here are some 50 hours of suggested audio to stock up with in your arsenal of date-night tricks. This should give you room to relax at home for about 25 date nights worth while your children get deliciously transported into other worlds:

Hank the Cowdog by John Erickson with 2.5 hours of audio

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney with 2 hours of audio

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain with 9 hours of audio

Freddy the Detective by Walter Brooks with 5 hours of audio

The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver by Thornton Burgess with 2.5 hours of audio

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Book 1) by Frank Baum with 4 hours of audio

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen with 2.5 hours of audio

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis with 5.5 hours of audio

Artemis Fowl (Book  1) by Eoin Colfer with 6 hours long of audio

Redwall (Book 1) by Brian Jacques with 10.5 hours of audio

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