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Are You a Talent Whisperer?

From chapter eight in the book “The Talent Code”, the author talks about the amazing people behind the creation of some of the most talented people in the world. Very often there are those individuals around talented people who are best described as “talent whisperers.” Those whisperers know how to identify so closely with the needs and personality of a young person that they can coach and coax them to the next level of performance; they know how to be tough and tender, cold and hot, as the need arises. They are intensely interested in the talent and in the person trying to become better in that field of human endeavor.

Interestingly, a talent whisperer is not necessarily the same person through the various stages of expertise. Sometimes a beginner needs more of one type and style of coaching than when he does later on when he is operating at a much more complex level. That is one of the reasons why I tap into different experts over time to help my own children’s talents. (Another reason is because a marketable talent should not be made up of one type of skill that can be learned from one expert). When it comes to custom talent, one that does not have an easy title set to it, I recognize that I have a special advantage as a parent to help guide my son or daughter. For someone else other than the parent, it can be a risky endeavor to accurately judge the character and emotional maturity of a young person. But I have inside knowledge on how ready my own child is. I act as the “talent whisperer” within our family, even though the specific skills are often learned from someone outside our household.

For example, I know that for my thirteen year old daughter to transition out of one learning context into another, it can sometimes be a tricky maneuver. That is an almost impossible task to do for a 13 year old girl without risking offending and alienating those who have already helped her along the way. As the other resident household “talent whisperer”, my wife will insert herself into our daughter’s talent journey and closely guide the transition process. If the expert teachers and mentors are self-aware of their role, they will themselves gently give you the cue that it is time for your 13 year old to find another mentor. Many times though you don’t have the luxury of choosing such self-aware mentors and it is imperative to move forward, regardless of sensibilities. That’s when dad or mom can save the day.

Either way, gladly accept that there are various learning seasons in life for your child. Embrace your “talent whispering” persona realizing you are critical to a smooth progress. If she is transitioning then that means she is in fact growing! It is thanks to you that she is beginning to catch her own vision.

How to Turn Your Family Into a Hotbed of Talent

How am I turning my family into a hotbed of talent for all of my children?

Here’s how:

I talk the talent language every day with my children: have you done some talent building today? what did you learn? what was hard? what was fun? Can you do it differently? Have you asked an expert about how to better get around the problem? Don’t give up,  you can do it. Tell me more. Try it a different way. Do it again. I’m proud of you for not stopping. You did good work today.

– But most adults will never talk like that to a young person.

I behave in a way that my children are convinced that I want them to have a real talent to carry into adulthood more than I want them to simply sound smart and educated.

– But most adults do not believe it is possible for their children to develop real talent, so they settle for being generally educated.

I re-arrange the school schedule so that it supports time for building talent. I say ‘no’ frequently to activities that are otherwise good, but not helpful to making progress.

– But most adults will never allow the pursuit of excellence to override a formal school schedule.

I watch how others succeed in one area or another with their children. I borrow the pieces of their methods and techniques that were good and apply them so that it fits my household. I’m always alert and receptive to someone else’s great idea.

– But most adults never ask questions of how it is done from those who are already very successful.

I make note of how others fail to launch their children and study the details of their failures. I then work it backwards until I find a different path so the same problems do not crop up in my household.

– But most adults will assume that if the hand of fate has failed their friends then they are convinced they are also meant to also fail rather than to do things differently.

I believe that almost every educational method can be improved. So everywhere I look I see possibilities for new and better ways for learning and teaching. I keep trying new things with the expectation that it gets better with time, not worse.

– But most adults hope that their children will repeat the same educational experience they had, down to eagerly discussing how they will repeat the same painful social experiences.

Can You Locate the Sweet Spot on the Edge of Your Student’s Ability?

“Coaching is a long, intimate conversation, a series of signals and responses that move toward a shared goal. A coach’s true skill consists not in some universally applicable wisdom that he can communicate to all, but rather in the supple ability to locate the sweet spot on the edge of each individual student’s ability, and to send the right signals to help the student reach toward the right goal, over and over.”

Coyle, Daniel (2009-04-16). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. (p. 178). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

When we speak of coaching, it is normally referring to someone who is helping your young person get good at one or more of the particular skills that make up his talent. He’s the man on the sidelines who gives encouragement and direction. He’s also the one that knows how to blow that whistle when there is too much playing around and not enough focus. But with the idea of the traditional coaching, I think we should include the parent who has a conscious desire to act on behalf of his child.

The “coach” parent acts on behalf of his child to create the strategy and the conditions in his life that makes the pursuit of talent possible. That parent may not how to teach a particular skill, but he knows to find the coach who does. That would be you, dear reader. That parent coaches his son or daughter to appropriately manage all the other important aspects of his life in a balanced way. He’s also there to make sure the talent doesn’t inadvertently destroy the rest of the child’s life outside of his talent pursuit (health, marriage, etc.). The coach parent recognizes the edge where the sweet spot is.

The alternative to being a “coach” parent is to simply let a boxed curriculum tell you what your son or daughter will doing on a daily basis, in the same way as it is telling a thousand other children to do on the same day for the same age. As the coach in your child’s life, you can avoid his fate of looking like those thousand other children. As the coach you tell the curriculum when and how much of it can be used. As the coach, you can and should use your whistle on any curriculum that oversteps its bounds.