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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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How to Fix Lack of Action

Do you have a son who does not take as much action as you would like? Here are one of three possible things that you can try as a parent to get him to start moving on his talent:

Option 1: Tie a minimum expectation of daily action he has to accomplish first every day for his talent before he can access his favorite privileges

Option 2: Change the focus of the talent to something more granular and accessible to his current skills so that he experiences easy wins in the beginning

Option 3: Do more hand-holding or be more of a physical presence so that he senses more of your immediate approval and encouragement

Of the above, I have had to exercise one or the other of those options to help keep them focused and motivated. Depending on age or personality, some need more negative encouragement (no computer time until…) and others need more supportive encouragement (I will sit next to you with my laptop and catch up on my emails, while you get started on…). I am not afraid in the beginning of the whole process to remove privileges if they are not at least trying to act on their talent on a consistent basis.

For example, if the expectation is that there is at least one blog post by every Tuesday on the documentation of their talent progress, then he can say goodbye to Minecraft or any other fun activities until that blog post is done. This is assuming of course that the underlying reason for delaying his blog post is that he is enjoying too many of the good things in life without first putting in the effort to be productive. Basically, it’s a variation of not letting your child eat his dessert until has eaten his vegetables first.

I was listening to an interview recently of very wealthy and successful businessman who was reminiscing that part of the secret of his success was due to the upbringing his parents gave him. He said he grew up in a very well-to-do family and enjoyed the comforts of such an environment…but that his father was very strict about not allowing him to enjoy those daily privileges without also demanding that he be daily productive in learning and practicing the tools of his father’s trade (in this case as a sales person). His father enforced that rule consistently in such a way that he grew very comfortable at a young age associating hard work as a condition to enjoying the fruits of it.

You can be the father or mother that gets the credit later in your child’s adult life for having laid the foundation of their good habits.

Guarantee Your Son’s Motivation

How would you like to guarantee your son’ motivation to learn by using your family’s strengths? Yes, you can do that.

I do not want you to hope your son develops real motivation. I want you to guarantee it.

First, you need to figure out what your family’s strength is. What is your family’s identity and your family’s drive? If you don’t know what I mean, think of what others would probably describe your family as being in this world and think of how others would describe what your family is best known for. That is your family strength. You might have that ONE THING that sets you apart or it might be several things merging together. It might be beautifully simple or it might be beautifully complex. Either way, you can harness your family’s energy to give your son that lift to the next level.

No two families will have quite the same identity, so you must engage your mind around understanding what it is that makes your family stand-out. Are you that family that lives and eats in the mechanical world on weekends and in the evenings, fixing cars and sharing tailgate food with other families at car rallies? Or are you that family that swims in the world of hospitality for your church and in having visiting guests from foreign countries share your daily meals? Those are both identities and strengths that can be harnessed to boost your son’s motivation to work and learn hard.

By the way, that kind of motivation fire will not be found in the back of your son’s textbook or in the eyes of his super-smart tutor. But it can be found within your family, if you know how to identify that energy and then know how to harness it to your son’s benefit. To be clear: your family’s current identity is not your son’s future identity – but, and this is an amazing insight, it is your family’s current energy flowing out of that identity that can be used to super-charge your son’s own motivation to excel.

I can tell you how to do it through my coaching e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”  Don’t hope for motivation – guarantee it.

What the first few hours of a talent journey look like

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Today I snuck a picture of what the beginning first few hours of a 10,000 hours talent journey looks like for a young boy.

What you see is my son Simeon reading from “Hank the Cowdog.” He is eight years old and he is in his first few hours of attempting to get good at voice-acting. Notice that next to him he has an old digital recorder that he borrowed from me. He started  a few weeks ago with reading “Calvin and Hobbes” aloud with lots of enthusiasm. I then encouraged him to record himself so he can play it back and see what parts of his voice acting he does and doesn’t like. Every day now for the last couple of weeks, I have agreed that one of his regular school hours will be dedicated to practicing his voice by reading aloud to the recorder.

He likes his privacy as he is still very self-conscious, but his confidence is growing daily. Last week we had to close his bedroom window so that the neighbors did not misconstrue the noises drifting over the fence for someone who was truly in pain – there was a “pain” passage in the text that he discovered he could really bring out with extra gusto.

So what do I expect from all this daily effort from a little boy? Well, I expect that this one little skill will grow, but it will not stay on a fixed trajectory. I fully expect the skill to morph into something different and unique as we add one other little skill on top of another to make it more challenging, interesting, and meaningful. He also has, per Dad’s insistence, a set time every day that he must practice. I treat it as seriously as his math or handwriting.

The next step after recording for his private feedback, might be to set him up with a little audio blog. Maybe he can read his older sister’s blog stories and load those up. Maybe at some point he can start reading some of his regular school materials with some voice interpretations so he can start pegging what he is learning with the skill he is interested in. He’s already concerned that his voice sounds too babyish. This is gradually getting him more emotionally invested in what he is doing.  Maybe this concern will translate into an opportunity for his older brother to help him digitally enhance his recorded voice to sound better. And this could get him introduced in a meaningful way to the technical side of audio recording.

The possibilities are expanding as he digs in a little deeper every week. I expect that we will not choose to exercise all the possibilities that present themselves. This is because we want to grow a talent for him that adapts to the best opportunities available. I do not want to slavishly follow a path to match a career labeled “voice actor” that may or may not exist for him when he is an adult. 

This is how you start lighting the fire of motivation in a young boy’s life. The beginning of a 10,000 hours of talent journey is discreet and modest just like this. You have the power to jump-start this journey early. And I can help you find a realistic focus that makes sense to both your child’s future and to your family’s unique environment.

For a treat, listen to Simeon’s early voice practice.

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In the Summer Time of Your Life

 

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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Reeling-In the Solution to Fix Lack-of-Motivation

Fishing reel

By unraveleing the source of your child’s lack of motivation, you can reel-in the solution to your problem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unraveling the problem backwards:

  • My child has no motivation to study
  • Because there is no unifying theme to do the study work
  • Because is there is no clear purpose for the study
  • Because there is no talent goal to give it purpose
  • Because there is no time spent planning for a talent
  • Because there are too many group-activities and side-hobbies that clog the mind and use up the time
  • Because as a parent I’m worried about what other parents will think if I don’t have my child experience all the same group-activities that everyone else is doing

Reeling it all back in, we find that we have the solution to your child’s lack of motivation:

  • As a parent, I will deliberately read-up and follow what the best minds have to say about talent development
  • To give me strength and confidence to know I am putting my child on a much better path
  • To emotionally allow me to pull back on group-sports and miscellaneous hobbies
  • To free-up time to truly explore the potential for a viable long-term talent in my child’s life
  • To give me the fodder needed to come up with a talent development plan for the next few months
  • To give my child something into which he can really sink his teeth
  • To give me the framework needed to help me eliminate, re-organize, and re-purpose our existing curriculum to support my child’s talent
  • To finally give my child that deep motivation I so badly want for him to have in his life.
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Birthday Wishlist Betrays Desire for Talent

Are there signs of interest in your child for a talent of his own to emerge? If you have a personal system in place, ready to channel that youthful energy, you will not have to hope that an appropriate skill-set appears spontaneously. Gideon is now nine years old. See if you can spot some emerging interest in the birthday wishlist of my soon-to-be ten-year old:

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Gideon’s Wishlist for his 10th Birthday

 

 

 

The Lion Must Be Fed

Male Lion (Panthera leo) and Cub eating a Cape...

Talent and passion awakens the lion in your child. Fathers be prepared. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happens when your child finds a talent that he can be passionate about? What happens when you as a parent use your years of experience as an advantage to guide a passion toward being relevant to other people or the marketplace? What you have is a lion that will keep growing in all its splendor and at times, in all its passionate fierceness. On the one hand, many teenagers are couch potatoes with a seemingly bottomless pit of self-loathing and indecision. But then, in some children, a lion is finally awakened and the time of nursing and nurturing is over. Enter Dad, the natural lion tamer in the family.

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Bonding and Blades

Talent with a skill of blade sharpening brings value

Have your child use his beginning talent to help his brother move forward with his talent. Get creative on how to find the intersection of value.

Another example of using talent development in your children to also promote friendship and bonding between your children, happened this past week between two of my sons. One son who has been developing an on-going focus on stones and metals has been following an online recorded course from 17th generation Yoshimoto bladesmith Murray Carter (long live the power of the Internet!) on the topic of how to properly sharpen knives. The other, younger son, has been developing his baking and kitchen prepping skills on a consistent basis and therefore uses knives regularly. Voila: the talents have intersected! After practicing on cheaper blades, we finally got our big expensive kitchen knives properly sharpened by our son Caleb (13) who was proud to have my son Gideon (9) be able to now use them without the previous dangerous slipping that came from dull knives. The respect they have for each other’s abilities keeps growing because the impact of what they are doing is useful and real on even a young person’s level.

Children Bond Through Exercising Talents

brothers reading

Your child will find joy with his family by using his beginning skill and talent in a way that brings value, even a small value, to one of his siblings. Do you remember how much bonding and admiration power there was, for example, when your oldest child used to read to his younger brother in order to soothe him? You can repeat that same strategy between teenage children as they use their serious talents to learn how to serve the needs of their brothers and sisters who are respectively growing in their own talents. An older sibling who has a core baking skill of a couple thousand of hours behind him, for example as part of a larger developing talent, can also use it to boost the silversmithing club activities of the status his brother through amazing food and hospitality. Another sibling who has developing computer skills can work on upgrading his sister’s online art portfolio and said sister can in turn work on digital logos and ad graphics for all the other sibling blog postings.

Common Mistake When Searching for Motivation in Child

 

A common mistake for parents is to search for talent by looking for an already full-blown motivation in a child’s life. That is a mistake because they will not find one, immediately give up, and falsely conclude their child was born under an “unlucky” star. Instead, the right approach to creating motivation is by introducing him to a simple skill that requires little effort and gives quick satisfaction. At that level, he will easily engage himself with encouragement by his parents. Then keep building his skill levels up until an intrinsic desire of his own starts growing stronger and stronger…and then a full-blown motivation will rage so strongly that all your friend and neighbors will see that your boy is “on fire!”

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So That All His Relatives Can Read It and Comment

Pont du Gard

Start your child blogging today about his talent using your history curriculum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Example of how a 12 year old boy could write his first blog post:

  1. Uses his on-going personal interest: his interest is anything related to engineering
  2. Uses his current curriculum topic: Roman History
  3. Reads a Wikipedia summary article on a specific Roman bridge: the Pont-du-Gard Aqueduct
  4. Starts a free blog hosting service: Posterous.com
  5. Writes a 5-sentence summary in his own words about a specific aspect of that Wikipedia article.
  6. Makes a one sentence comment in his post, a hook, that is a personal observation on how it is similar to something he knows about today in modern life.
  7. Creates a blog post title that is copied from one interesting phrase in the blog post.
  8. Presses “publish” on the blog post he just wrote so that all his relatives can read it and comment to encourage him.

 

 

 

 

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Bored, Bouncy, and Restless?

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Doing worksheets and grinding through homeschool essays without connecting his work to developing a talent is like caging your son into a kennel.

Is your teenage son bored, bouncy, and restless? Here is what is happening in your homeschool day: all the work of writing essays and doing math worksheets and other .edu check-off lists are not being connected enough to developing a real, permanent, and long-lasting talent of his own. Yes, he’s doing the work as an obedient son, but the work has no meaning and he is starting to gnaw on his own bones like a dog that has been caged too long. You can set him free by helping him discover and develop his own talent. You will then see that joy and peace come flooding back.

Finding Focus Will Build Child’s Talent

Airplane vortex denoicefied

Finding focus is necessary in order to build a real talent for your child –  there’s a big difference between enjoying watching planes  in the sky vs knowing how they operate  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your child is finding talent-worthy focus if you are reporting something similar to fictional “Frazzled-Mom”:

“At first, my 13 year old son panicked at the thought of not seeing all the many friends in his different programs, but once he realized how much more interesting the two remaining activities were because he was able to focus, he quickly forgot about the other (shallow) friendships. One of the activities we kept involves participating in the Remote Control Airplane Club of our town and getting pointers on how to fine tune gas and electric motors from older retired men. He feels like he is ‘one of the guys’ and is getting all scientific on us at the lunch table talking about aerodynamics. We don’t understand all this new found knowledge he is explaining to us, but we love it!”

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Family Bonding Through Building Talent

English: My lab coat and scrubs -- Samir धर्म ...

Look into your extended family’s skills and abilities and you might be able to strengthen family bonds while developing your child’s talent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your child is strengthening his family bonds by developing his talent if you can report something like this fictional ‘Love-My-Alma-Mater-But-Not-That-Much-Dad:

We had always felt that if it wasn’t an official course taken at an official school, that somehow it had little value. Once we realized how shortsighted we were, we redesigned six months ago a “custom curriculum” of our own that involved me, my sister who is math professor in another state, and my father who is a retired pharmacist. The children’s grandpa sent us by Fed-Ex his old microscopes and even some old-fashioned lab coats. Skype came to the rescue with lots of fun late night conversations and tutorials and I was surprised by the amount of family bonding that has come out of this.

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Twaddle is Result of Lack of Talent Focus

 

Twaddle Face When There is No Talent Focus

Twaddle Face is what your child will get if you let your curriculum drive all your memory lists. Take control and make memory work serve your child’s talent instead.

Busy, busy, busy, but do you care whether your child is memorizing the list of names of the California Missions or memorizing the list of Vice-Presidents of United States? If it is all the same indifference to you and your child, then your homeschool curriculum is turning into dreaded twaddle. STOP! Your child is probably mentally purging that information as fast he is finishing his history quizzes. Focus on the purpose of your curriculum and make memory lists count toward your child’s 10,000 hours of talent development. Your child with science talent can memorize the names of the most influential inventors of the 1800s and your child with art talent can memorize the names of the top art pieces of the 18th century.