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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 carry the burden and responsibility of being a substitute parent.

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Two Reasons Why a Talent Blog is Important for Your Child

Typing BlogYour child should start at least one blog related to a skill he is developing for his talent.

There are two reasons why a talent blog is important:

  1. So your child can learn how to talk in his own voice and personality about his talent.
  2. So your child can demonstrate to others that he is personally engaged and not just mechanically reciting back a list of facts.

By the way if your child has started a talent blog, please feel free to post the link below so I can leave him his first few encouraging comments.

 

Four Tips on How to Bullet Proof a Child’s Presentation

Four tips from theatre and public speaker expert Carl Miller on how your child can bullet-proof a presentation of his talent:

  1. Prepare ahead of time a list of public speaking problems or list of potentially difficult questions and have ready scenarios or answers to fall back to
  2. Practice the presentation while watching for pre-arranged signs and cues from your practice audience that you are not doing well
  3. Practice first several times in front of immediate family members and close friends
  4. Practice maintaining composure under all public speaking circumstances by having your practice audience deliberately create realistic problems while making the presentation

How to Pitch Yourself to Next Level of Expertise

Use Physical Item to Help Walk Through Presentation

Use Physical Item to Help Walk Through Presentation

Is your child trying to pitch himself to the next level of expertise in a club or asking a group for an opportunity to exercise for them an aspect of his talent? I asked for advice from my friend Carl Miller, an expert on staging yourself in theater and an accomplished public speaker. Here are some tips I came away with:

  1. Have child create a portfolio of his accomplishments, whether of the physical items themselves, or of the photos of the work, or the paperwork.
  2. Give a presentation that sounds natural by simply talking and walking through the order of your portfolio.
  3. Pass around in the audience a physical item that represents your abilities and helps the audience follow the details you want to emphasize in your presentation.
  4. Finish the presentation with a direct appeal to what your child wants and with an attitude that, because of the portfolio of accomplishments, the request is a reasonable one to make of the audience.