Google

Archive for strategy

Should You Search Deep Jungles for Unique Talent Opportunities ?

When you think of finding a talent for your child, what is the first type of image that pops into mind?

That image will be the image of some of kind of talent that is very fixed and easily recognizable right now by millions of other people. “Concert piano”, “football player”, “actor”, etc. Those are skillsets that are indeed talents when performed by the top people in that field, but there is a catch to trying to pursue the kind of talent for which an easy image pops into mind. The catch is that it is normally very difficult to get into the top echelons of those popularly recognized talents because your son will be competing for the same space with thousands, maybe even millions of other people, following the exact same traditional route.

A much easier way to approach the search for a suitable talent for your son would be to look at developing a skillset that is rather unique and not casually reproducible by other people. That approach opens the doors to some really interesting possibilities for your young person. And by a unique skillset, I do not mean unique in the sense of searching for some obscure skill that can only be found in deep, dark Peruvian jungles, but unique rather in the sense of a unique combination of your family’s advantages and opportunities. Ideally, that would mean combining something of your son’s interests, something of your academic goals for him, something from your environmental advantages, and something from your family’s identity.

Since hardly no one else has your son’s identical combination of advantages, you have an opportunity to create something that will not be easily duplicated by others. That is the better strategy. There is a place in the sun for him.

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.

100-hours-cover-231x3002

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 She Sew Her Food?

When trying to look at what can be used in a family’s environment, very often a skill asset is completely overlooked that could be one of the pieces of the puzzle to creating a unique and exciting talent for your child. Let us say for example that your daughter has a strong interest in cooking and also a strong interest in sewing. The normal reaction is to look down on one or the other skill because it is not clear how focusing on one or the other will add much value beyond knowing how to do the basics in the household. Remember that with the pursuit of inordinate talent we are also talking about talent that brings great value to others, so the initial reaction, as far as to how to judge it with bringing great value to others, is correct. There is not much value as stand-alone skill between those two. However, once you think of creative ways to dovetail skills already existing in your household, then the possible value starts becoming more apparent.

Back to the example: so does this mean I recommend you try to get her to sew her food? No, of course not. But what I do mean is you could encourage your daughter to sew specifically for clothing ware that fits the professional female chef or that fits the advanced home baker and cook. Having a strong, first-hand experience with the functionality needed to meet a kitchen environment, she can continually create and test better clothing options. She can even start testing and then reviewing on a blog various clothing ware offered on the market and demonstrate by video the pros and the cons as she bakes in the kitchen while modeling the work clothes. See what happened there at the end of this example? I managed to slip in a third skill, a writing skill, when I only wanted to talk about two skills! Now there are three skills working together, each giving strength to the other. Finding a venue to writing with a purpose and developing the voice of confidence comes natural. That’s because she is writing from the first-person point about two interests she both cares and knows about. The more skills that come together to support each other with purpose, the easier it gets to create something glorious for your child to pursue as an adult.

Your mission: find that one skill you are proud to see your child develop and then find a way to create a deeper value proposition by dovetailing it with a completely different interest in your child’s life.

He Will Not Do Better, So Why Bother

Joshua Sheats Goals Example

Looking for a way to get started with a real goal-setting exercise with your wife for your children’s coming educational year? Borrow ideas from Joshua Sheats’ podcast on how to set and achieve your financial goals in 2015

Most parents do not expect their children to be able to do better than they themselves did in life. They almost say it out loud and they certainly reinforce it with their attitude.

This expectation drives parents to try and lower their progeny’s youthful enthusiasm. This is when you hear such statements as “high school is the best time of your life so make it last as long as you can.” But all parents are not like that. A smaller group of parents is more hopeful that the best is yet to come and so they make plans for their children to enter into adulthood more prepared than they were. It is my guess that 80% of parents fall into the low expectations category and the other 20% of parents have serious hopes and plans that their children will do better. (By the way, I’m not bothering here to define what “better” is as that is a subject whose details I leave to you.)

Likely you are falling into that 20% of parents who have hopes about improving the lives of your descendants. Otherwise you would not be bothered to follow a blog, such as this one, on how to develop massive, life-changing talent starting early in life. But have you thought about rising into that even smaller, super-hopeful category of parents? Are you in that category?

I’m not speaking of that category of people who believe that they can get their children just achieve a little more success than they did. I’m speaking of those parents who believe they can DRAMATICALLY improve the adult outcome of their children’s lives. The size of that category of parents who believe and act on that belief of dramatic improvement is probably in the order of 2 out of 100 parents (that would represent 20% of the already 20% hopeful people). That sounds about right, doesn’t it? Imagine you are at a social mix of about 100 parents in one room. You would expect that most are just expecting their kids to do “okay” after high-school, or maybe they are not really thinking about their future at all and relieved they made it through the teenage years. You would expect that about two of ten people mingling in a corner will seem pretty upbeat talking about future possibilities for their son or daughter.  Those are part of the hopeful twenty percenters and that is good. But in the entire group of 100 people, there would also be about two parents who have unusually high expectations for their children. Those two people would seem to truly believe they can pull off the kind of upbringing for their children that would have such dramatic ramifications.

If you are ready to roll up your sleeves with your spouse to generate some great ideas for your child’s future, I recommend you listen to a recent podcast by Joshua Sheats on how to set goals. Find a way to get yourself into that 20% of 20% parents who have concrete hope and very high expectations. You can print out his list of great prompts for you to use in your goal setting session and substitute your son’s name, instead of yours, in the suggested exercises.

2015 is going to be a great year.

 

What Does a Standardized Test Measure?

There is no standardized test to guide you if your child is on the path to contributing something unique to the world. Instead, on the 10,000 hour talent journey, your child is on the path to creating something new, with a new direction of excellence or new combination of skills.

Re-evaluate what you are doing if you are using a standard battery of tests and exams to guide the focus of your child’s work. There is is a possibility that your child is sinking his time and hard effort into already very well served areas of life. Those tests and exams rose up in the context of making it easy to move lots of people down a path of identical expertise as efficiently as possible. Many times, the level of testing for a skill or knowledge base is increased far beyond what is necessary in order to perform the tasks they will be called on to do in their work life. This is to help the narrow the number of people needed because there are so many in that field already. Ponder this for a while.

However if you are focused on creating talent in your child’s life, then what you are trying to do with your son or daughter is different. By definition, unusual talent will not easily fit the existing standard measurement tools in school. Yet most of the time as parents we are trying to make our children fit into a standard mold so that it easily be reward by high grades in a standardized test. That standardized test is a mold designed to produce a specific well-established skill set and a well established performance level. It is not designed to create the new shape of service for the needs of the world. No one is  holding their breath as to whether or not one more person is professionally shaped by it.

What tests would one have used for example to measure the progress of a Julia Child or that of the creator, Scott Adams, of the Dilbert cartoon? If those two people had used standardized tests so as to guide them down a well established path, we probably would not have had the result of both those people’s unique and outstanding contributions to the world. Julia Child might have then become an A+ sous-chef by continuing on with formal training in France and the creator of Dilbert might have made a living designing art covers had he gone to graphic arts school – but we would have missed the talents for which they have become known.

To be clear: tests aren’t bad things in themselves and in fact are quite useful in being able to measure those skills that are held in common and are abundantly needed and provided. Some of those tests your talented child can use to help guide him on short treks through his journey, but he and you should not over-estimate their usefulness. I’m glad my plumber has followed a typical apprenticeship and testing path for his profession as I am expecting him to fix problems in my house that are within the realm of normal. But that is not what talent is about.

The pursuit of standardized tests can be disastrous for real a long-term talent strategy if it is not kept under control. In moderation standardized tests can be used as mini-goals to acquire certain skill packages. The trick is to not confuse them as the definitive signposts to lead your child toward his own amazing talent. Constantly trying to please future standardized tests can draw parents into producing look-alike children that can’t be differentiated from other children in the community. If your children are particularly studious then they wind up doing the common knowledge things very well. This is better than your child doing the average thing poorly, but a far cry from being able break new ground in a particular field of talent.

For example, your child chasing established standard tests could lead him to become so good at music that he is able to perfectly imitate Mozart and the Beatles on demand…but he still can’t bring anything of new and real value to the world. Everyone in the end would still rather just buy the Mozart CD than to listen to his interpretation of those composers. It would have been better for him to be less perfect on those technical skills (and give up on those corresponding exams that prove that technical competency) and spent more time being hyper creative in applying music to a new context.

On a quick recent drive through San Francisco, I saw so many young look-alike art students on the sidewalk taking a smoking break outside of an apparently big art school. They might has well have put a big neon sign in front of that school saying “losers, come this way if you have no idea what to do with your life”. I can only imagine they are being taught to learn to paint like Van Gogh (cool, but already been done) or learn how to carve sacrilegious cuss words into trendy stone benches (not at all cool – has that trend died out yet?!). And then they will end up working for those who are setting the yet-to-be new standards, while they remain obscure artists. What if instead your child could always be ahead of the trend? And maybe find a way at the same time to contribute something to the world that others of great added value and for which they will be financially rewarded?

Knowledge Explosion Means New Unique Talents to Be Created

Stars, and the glow over the Halemaumau crater...

How many clusters of knowledge are there? Where there is knowledge, there can be talent. Stars and volcano on Big Island, Hawaii (Photo credit: LoveBigIsland)

Is it possible for your son and daughter to find a unique and highly valuable way to contribute to the world around them through a talent without having to go to a prestigious school or be born with an abnormally high IQ? Yes, I believe so.

Human knowledge is gaining momentum in depth and scope all across the world and you don’t need formal research to be personally aware of HOW MUCH MORE information there is now available at your fingertips from just the time of your childhood to now. This is a contributing factor as to why it becomes increasingly advantageous for your child to forge his own unique, custom talent growth path. There is so much to be done with knowledge discovered, but not yet applied.

Steer your child away from over-crowded traditional educational paths and download instead the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent” to find your child’s own uniqueness. When you get to the part in the workshop about fusing your opportunities together into a talent opportunity, email me so I can help walk you through that amazing part.

(post updated from June 2013)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Burning to Be Able to Say “Plumber”

beginning not end

The question is: “What does your child want to be when he grows up?”

You are burning to be able to say the words “plumber” or “math teacher” or “nurse” because that is something that is easy to describe and you don’t have to explain it to your adult peers. Do you remember when your own parents chided you about not worrying so much about your peers thought? Well, that same principle applies at this stage in life. You must resist the temptation to have your son’s future boxed in terms of today’s fleeting job descriptions.

Here is why you do not want to be able to easily describe your son’s future end-destination: if you are able to fully understand and describe now how that talent will be used a decade out from today, then it means that the specific field of talent will often be over-crowded by the time your child reaches adulthood. Sure, he might make a living based on that job description, but it will probably not change his life in a meaningful way.

Does that mean you should not use not a popular skill with which to start your child’s 10,000 hour talent journey? No, you are not forbidden to do so. You can in fact use a popular or common skill to get started. As long you understand that it is the beginning point from which to embark on a long journey of 10,000 hours. You can expect that the original skill will change so much during that long time that it will have only a small connection to its beginning. During that journey, your young person, with your guidance, will uncover and develop a combination of other skills to add to his mix, until little by little
 he is able to deliver massive recognizable value to others.

Maybe the popular guitar, for example, gets him excited enough to be able to ride a wave of enthusiasm where he can please his teenage friends at their birthday parties. The guitar gives him the tool for making friends and teaches him to be comfortable with larger gatherings. The guitar playing is a well recognized traditional skill that everyone understands, but that is not likely to be his end destination, at least not if you understand the 10ktoTalent method. Most parents confuse a current skill focus as the final destination and will usually panic or accept it as fate that their son is destined to be a guitar player. In their mind “fate” has destined their son to strictly pursue a musical path. They believe that if he deviates from that “calling” then it means he will not be able to be live an emotionally contented life. They also imply that he is meant to struggle financially in that “calling” since there are already so many good guitar players in every town in America. They already know that however good he technically is at guitar playing, it will add little to the already fantastic repertoire available. What most parents don’t realize is that although his guitar playing is not fate, it can still have a role by being used as pathway to new opportunities. The savvy parent recognizes the guitar playing as simply the beginning of a 10,000 hour adventure.

To continue the example: The guitar playing could then get him motivated enough to start tackling the digital recording and editing of his songs to share with others via YouTube or maybe it gets him wanting to project himself in a more poised way in front of small groups. He could start learning how to use an audio editing tool or he could join the local toastmaster’s group for young people. The guitar playing may still play a role in either of those two choices or it may have already completely fulfilled its role and will never be seen again. Either way, on this journey he learns to embrace the fact that there is always a juncture every few hundred hours, at which point he can go to the left or to the right. But in whichever direction he does go, whether down the digital recording road or whether down the road of public speaking skills, he is ALWAYS building on the talent he has already acquired and moving closer to finding more and more relevance to the needs of the marketplace.

So stand up straight and look forward to the years ahead. There is an excellent adventure afoot!

Update on My 16 Year Old Son’s Talent Journey


Watch my son’s latest video produced to bring specific value through the use of his aerial videography talent. Also, below is an update on my oldest son’s 10,000 hour journey to amazing talent:

This past week, my son Jonathan Jr. was able to take his talent development into a slightly new direction. This is consistent with our family strategy of remaining flexible to opportunities while building on the skills already acquired. This talent journey started a few years ago when our son was enlisted to help us in our family business by taking product photos for our website. He also interested himself in some of the business mechanics of the home business. We encouraged it wherever he was capable of contributing or understanding.

From simple photo taking projects, he grew into learning how to do small videos of my wife doing her product explanations and editing them for brevity. This again was part of a strategy of understanding that our own family environment had advantages he could learn to use for his own benefit. Keep in mind that my son’s original personal interests only played one part in this successful talent building strategy. The other parts are found in the family’s environment and are identified and released by his parents.

The next phase of his talent discovery and development process came when he met a family friend of mine who let him fly his new quadcopter drone with a small camera mounted under its belly. That’s when he realized that he could marry his burgeoning videography with the new affordable flying drones. The feedback he was getting was that there was room for him to bring value to a market that was not yet crowded. When he compared that opportunity to that of becoming a wedding photographer (a typical destination for those with digital cameras and aspirations of going professional), he realized that the wedding market was already very well served. There were would be little room for him in that venue long-term and he would have to beg and scrape for a living. But with the appearance of drones, he realized that this was an opportunity that he should not pass up. It was the classic case of “luck” coming to those who are prepared.

As he started approaching real estate agents to do some basic aerial shots of houses they had for sell or rent, he realized that he enjoyed to talking to grown adult men in the context of business. This in turn caused me to suggest he tap into the expertise of another family friend who was quite the successful salesperson in the insurance industry. That he did. With a few hours of advice and consulting (such as “don’t charge by the hour, but by the project”), Jonathan picked up some better techniques for pitching his service to interested parties. Soon he was engaged in weekly paying “gigs” that involved filming not only housing property, but also undeveloped commercial property. Each time he finished his project and handed off the finished video to the customer, he would also add it to his website. This built up his website as a living portfolio of his work. That public documentation in turn opened up more deals for him. From real estate aerial filming, it now seems to be jumping into some new opportunities involving documenting engineering projects from the air. This, at least, so far seems to leading him into a possible niche. We don’t know for sure, but opportunities and the dollar value that his customers are willing to pay him will be signposts to which way he should grow his talent.

What did we do right and should you do? As his parents, we did not panic ourselves into forcing a career name onto a growing and emerging talent. This allowed us to actively encourage him to pursue opportunities that we previously had never heard about. Because of this parental flexibility, our son is able to explore a growing field involving the application of new technology. And yet, I still don’t think that my son is yet ready to define himself with a career name, because his opportunities are still growing. For now, I’m okay if he says “aerial videographer”, but I doubt that is his end destination. This should be the same with your young person: have a focus, but expect that this focus is simply a building block to hoist him up to get to new and more exciting opportunities, as of yet unknown.

What are some of the discussions I’m having with him now? We have recently been talking about how he probably needs to get himself declared into a C-corporation, so he can position himself with tax advantages and flexibility in future partnering deals. He’s not making enough money yet that it matters, but we want to position him in the best spot possible for future growth. I picked up the phone and talked to an entrepreneur friend who is recommending we look at incorporating in the state of Wyoming because (among other reasons) it is only $50 filing per year vs. the $800 filing fee per year in California. Maybe Wyoming incorporation is an affordable option for him.

We are also talking about how much pleasure and success he is getting at pitching his service to others. This means he might want to think about how he can concentrate on getting new business. To do so he would have to job out the editing of the raw footage he is now doing by himself through the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service.  This in turn would mean he would have to start documenting the “recipe” he would want a contractor to follow so that it meets his customers’ needs. These are all conversations now, but our conversations will often lead to meaningful action in the months to come. I take all these conversations as serious, or more seriously, than his ability to memorize the history dates of a Western Civilization course. (By the way, we love and highly recommend the Western Civilization course by Tom Woods of the RonPaulCurriculum.com). We know that no one will hire Jonathan to give his opinions on history any time soon, but we are fairly certain that he will be amply rewarded as a young man if he delivers faithfully on his service to others through his talent.

Would you like to read the guide on how to create opportunities like that for your own student? Check out my e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

Full-cover-100-hours-talent-guide

Talent Principles for Homeschoolers

advantages asleep

Homeschoolers have some advantages over traditional students that can be used to make talent growth much easier. Do you know what those are?

All children can develop talent of course, whether homeschooled or not. So before I tell you what the homeschool advantages are, let me first restate the principles for reaching amazing levels of performance that will apply to all young people in their quest for focus and excellence.

      • they start young (a few started late, but then they might not have had other normal family obligations such as in the case of Julia Child, who was childless – pardon the family name pun)
      • they practice daily (no exceptions here)
      • they actively decompose their talent into smaller skills (they were smart about what their talent was, not just hard-workers)
      • they merge skills and borrowed ideas from different fields (they wanted to break new-ground, not just preserve the past)

A great read for understanding the above principles can be found in these books that analyze how amazing talent was built in the lives of the top performers in the world.

Now, I am going to tell you what homeschool parents can easily do over other parents that will make the talent acquisition process significantly easier.

Homeschool parents can:

      • Use their environment and assets (so you don’t wait for a pie-in-the-sky opportunity that may never come)
      • Enlist their family goals and desires (so you don’t have dad rolling his eyes on another Saturday talent excursion that doesn’t make sense to him)
      • Have their child act out the talent in a way that gives value to others (so you don’t paint your child into a corner of being very, very, very good at something totally irrelevant to the marketplace)
      • Make the school curriculum feed their child’s talent (so your child has enough experience to actually have a chance at achieving lift-off by the time he is eighteen)

The more you can dovetail those assets into your child’s life, the more talent progress and focus can be achieved in a shorter period of time.

 

Full-cover-100-hours-talent-guide

full-cover-blog-to-your-talent-230x300

Personal Interests Are Not Enough for Talent Building

not just personal interests

 

To build a talent in your child’s life, you can start in any number of ways.

The most straight-forward way is to simply focus on one of the current personal interests your young person is exhibiting and then keep building it up until he becomes very good in that area. That approach can and has worked for a number of people. However this personal-interests only approach has a high failure rate for two main reasons. One reason for a high failure rate is that a young person may already be locked into interests that, as far as you can tell has no future for them as an adult. Bull-whipping as a sport? Comic-book reader? Okay, I might be exaggerating, but many interests do seem like dead ends. They enjoy it in their youth, but when they are adults, they become just sweet memories while they wish they could have had focused some of those energies toward something that would made have a long term difference to their lives.

The other reason for a high failure rate is that taking a personal-interests only approach can become too expensive for the family budget early on. This is because your young person is usually competing with thousands of others in the same single personal-interest space. For him to make big progress you must often drive a big distance and spend lots of money to access the best teachers. For example, if you focus your child on using her piano playing interest as the single skill-set for her talent, then the only way she can climb up enough to achieve lift-off by age eighteen is to be able to outperform technically the tens of thousands of other great piano players. This means parents paying for very expensive piano lessons or it means parents driving her great distances, or it’s even both burdens. Families stumble over those serious economic and logistical obstacles. And then they give up after having already invested so much. Others continue despite the high costs, but the rest of the family structure might fall apart in order to create that one child’s future.

The personal-interests only approach is high-risk and should be avoided when a superior strategy is available.

So what’s the better talent strategy? The superior strategy I recommend is to build a talent that combines not only one core personal-interest, but finds a way to create something very unique by merging family interests and family advantages with the personal interest. This creates a very robust talent strategy that can weather the changes of the marketplace and support the emotional needs of your family. It creates a super-charged environment in which your young person is driven not only by his immediate interests, but also by the natural energy emanating from the self-interests and assets of his family. That kind of talent strategy creates a motivation in your child that becomes almost indestructible.

Would you like personal coaching as a parent on how to implement that strategy? Would you like to find a talent for your son or daughter that withstands the ups and downs of the years? Check out my e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent

Full-cover-100-hours-talent-guide

Several Modest Skills in Unique Combination

modest skills create talent.jpg

“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.

full-cover-blog-to-your-talent-230x300

I wish I would have started as YOUNG as you did

do not fall off your horse yet.jpg

Guest Post by Renee Harris.

This question comes up frequently in homeschool communities:

“Is it worth sending the next children in line to college, when we are already not so sure that college is going to make a difference to the son that is currently in college? We are getting more flack from the possibility of not choosing college for our children, than when we first decided to homeschool years ago. What is your advice?”

Here below is my response:

I absolutely think it’s necessary to think outside the box with regards to our kids’ future and education.

Here’s what our family does:

Our two older kids are at the age where they’re starting to get questioned about where they’ll attend college, as if it’s a natural extension of their high school graduation. We’re training them to understand that college should work FOR them, not the other way around. It’s more important that they have a passion/skill/talent (call it what you’d like) that can bring in an income, and that’s the way we homeschool our kids.

My husband and I are using our skills as online business owners to teach our kids how to turn that talent into an income (notice I didn’t say “job” or “employee” – whatever they do to pay the bills in the future may as well be something they love doing). Beginning at age 12, it’s critical that we start identifying and developing that talent by giving them plenty of time to explore it in depth, while feeding the necessary subject content to go right along side it.

For example: our bladesmith will study history and science through the eyes of his craft, and he then picks up physics and chemistry as he needs it for his talent. Because he’s also a very good writer, we use the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum to weave what he knows about history and bladesmithing into his novel. It makes for a much more interesting book. He’s also active on forums (and Instagram)… because it is on the private bladesmithing forums where he’s able to interact with  Master Bladesmiths, and even meet them in person, which he’s done with a few of these men…

He’s almost 15 and what do the people at the top of his craft say to him?:

“I wish I would have started as YOUNG as you did”

I’m not too worried about what college he’ll attend, because IF he chooses to go to college, it will be a college that will support his craft and make him better at it. It’s hard to top one-on-one mentorship with the guys he’s already interacting with. He will have a variety of ways to monetize his craft online, so that he can work from home or anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I was chatting with my CSA guy about my 16 year old and told him that I was able to leave for 5 days and my son had no problem taking over the business with shipping the products and managing my emails. The CSA friend said, “Wow! He deserves his own email account!” Au contraire, mon frere! He already has several emails, his own business website that he created himself, and he’s on his second round of business cards. What’s most impressive is that he has a fantastic business that he loves that generates good income.

His current obstacle? He’s slowed down by the fact that he needs to help out around the house, he still needs to “graduate” from high school, and he needs to fit in regular kid life of taking hikes with his buddies and camping with his family. Here’s what he does… something unheard of a few years ago: www.reddingdrone.com (because we think outside the box).

If your homeschooler is approaching graduation and you haven’t thought out the following 4 years, then yes, maybe he/she should to go college. If you have a 12-16 year old, then I highly recommend you think through what the post-high school experience can look like.

I have to credit my husband for having our homeschool goals look different than most. Here’s some food for thought, because he always asks the “why” question :

Don’t let these excuses drive you to sending your kids off to college if there’s a better alternative (and maybe there’s not… it depends on the situation)

1.) I’m getting pressure from the relatives…. (is there a good reason to do what they tell you to do… like, are they paying all your bills?)

2.) The schools/gov’t are offering free/discounted education… (are you sure there are no strings attached, including an opposing agenda? Or the temptation of accepting something for free again and again? Or a mentality that will lure your child into Visa’s free t-shirt booth in exchange for your child’s signature?)

3.) My kids need the experience since they’ve been with me the past 18 years… (please clarify: as in the experience of being in a room full of their peers? or the experience of being on their own? or the experience of having a different teacher? I would discount the first, and find alternatives for #2 and #3)

4.) They’ll make more money if they go to college first… (Look at this differently than how we were raised. Times are a-changin’. It’s not entirely true, especially if they take a talent-based route through homeschooling.  Or, ask those who graduated from college in the past decade how that degree is working for them.)

5.) There’s status with a degree. (How many people have asked you where you went to school and what degree you have? We usually volunteer it, right? There’s also debt with the degree.)

All that said, we are NOT against going to college. Our kids may decide that they need a particular degree, certification or even status to do what they want to do in the future. If that’s the case, they’ll at least already have an income first, and then they can pursue the degree. They are strategizing what they need and where they’ll go to get it, but it won’t be to just attend Shasta College because they didn’t have anything else to do.

My husband has been blogging about this for the past 2+ years and has begun to create ebooks and video courses to teach people. Check out the guide “How to Discover and Develop your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

Here’s what his ideas are all about: http://10ktotalent.com/what-is-10k-to-talent/

(Note: The 10K part doesn’t refer to money, but to time – it takes 10,000 hours of focused time to become really good in your niche, so the idea is to start early, when you have the energy, resources, and you’re not strapped with a mortgage, or, um… college debt.)

Renee Harris

Mom of 8

full-cover-blog-to-your-talent-230x300

Use Family Goals to Help Talent

family goals accelerate talent.jpg

It is possible to have your child try to develop his talent without involving your family’s collective goals and aspirations. But here is why I discourage you from ignoring what makes you different from all the other families.

Any skill, and collections of skills, used in the development of a long term talent need to be applied in a particular situation and place in time in order to have an impact on the world around you. It’s all fine and dandy to say that your child wants to be a singer, but he will not be a singer in a vacuum.

(WARNING: If your child is well into developing his core talent of singing and he is only singing for his teacher, you need to stop your talent trajectory RIGHT NOW. You should make sure you are not developing an expensive HOBBY that has no value for others in his adult life. Your paid teacher does not count as proof that your child’s talent has meaning for the future.)

You would still need to decide on where and for whom your child would actually start singing. The place and the people your child would start practicing his singing will influence over time the type of singing he will favor over all the other types of singing he could practice. This is where family goals come into place. You could randomly let any number of accessible venues be an option for your child to perform his burgeoning talent.

Maybe you currently have the following choices:

  • a year-round Wednesday night community choir
  • a weekly Sunday volunteer group that visits retirement homes and would welcome singers
  • musical plays put on by a beloved community theater group
  • an international month-long jazz festival

Of all the above choices, there is in fact one that stands out over all the others as being the best choice for your child’s talent development. You can know there is one best choice and not just guess at what to get involved with.

Why can you be so certain? Because when you look at the list of family goals you wrote down in the talent discovery workshop, you are reminded that hosting foreigners happens to be an important family tradition that your family is particularly adept at carrying out and it derives great joy in exercising that kind of hospitality. By saying yes to the international jazz festival, you are foregoing the other venues. By saying yes to the festival, your child is riding the tide of your family’s positive energy to be part of hosting foreigners coming from out of town.

Some of those foreigners will actually be some of the smaller jazz bands who can’t afford full on hotel stays and your family is already on the list of hosting homes. Your son will continue to be the beneficiary of all the informal inside tips on how to interact with people from other cultures, but this time those tips will also help him to interact with the talented people in his field of interest. Not only that, but in anticipation of the international event, the rest of the family will be excited to come and watch him practice his year-round jazz singing. He’s practicing his jazz that much because he managed to join the the local amateur jazz band that will be opening the act for the bigger bands. He won’t be the primary vocalist, but he’s persuaded the adult members that he can add a lot to the variety of background vocals with his youthful timber.

By choosing to exercise his talent in the context of his parents’ family goals and traditions, he is maximizing the potential to be in harmony with the world around him and maximizing the likelihood that his parents are going to go all out in giving the time and space to practice his talent. This is why family goals should not be overlooked or despised.

How to Trust Her with Freedoms in the Teenage Years

trust her.jpg

 

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.

 

Full-cover-100-hours-talent-guide

full-cover-blog-to-your-talent-230x300

Sew Your Way Through History

sew history.jpg

How does your daughter make significant headway in a talent field that at first seems to have little to do with her standard history and other school curriculum? Take a page from the playbook of Heather in her article “Teaching History and Literature with Fashion.” Her daughter is into some serious fashion and sewing skill building and is combining her normal history and literature studies with what is going on in the world and role of fashion during the same time periods.

Heather Woodie:

“…study history with an emphasis on something your student enjoys. My eighth grade daughter loves to sew, and she has grown quite talented at it over the years. This year we combined literature and history with her love of making fashions…Allow your student to research different fashions over time, among classes of people, and around the world all during the same portion of the timeline…”

When you combine traditional learning time with a deliberate overlap into time spent building talent (a.k.a. dovetailing), you can change the entire course of your child’s adult life. If Heather keeps double-dipping her child’s time for serious talent (see her article), her daughter will easily be able to open doors with her skills by the time she is 18.

Consider the scenario where your daughter does sewing and learns to study fashion for four serious hours a day: at the end of one week, she can easily accumulate over 20 hours of skill building. That could easily be two daily hours during standard school time (such as history), with two daily hours after school time.

Compare the above scenario to a girl who takes one regular sewing class on a Saturday morning. The latter, which is really just a hobby, gives you only 2 hours of intense focus. That’s a ten-fold difference!

Rinse and repeat that focus and double-dip method for the next ten years. The mind boggles at the gap in expertise between the one who takes control of her learning in her youth and the one who waits to be told what to do after High School.

The irony is that even though this daughter is double-dipping her subjects (history+talent), I bet she will never forget her history. She is the one that will be interesting to talk to at a party. The child who is not double-dipping will struggle a couple years later to remember just the history details, even though it was theoretically less work. That’s the power of pegging relevance to what a child is learning from the textbooks.

Don’t have a talent around which your daughter can get motivated? I can help you find one that will get you and the whole family excited for her.  Walk through my e-course “How To Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours” and send me your questions by email.

 

Full-cover-100-hours-talent-guide

Need a Second Opinion on Your Homeschool Plan

may goals

Write long-term goals first. Then, and only then, determine your intermediate and immediate goals. (Photo credit: madame.furie)

Need a “second-opinion” on how good your current homeschool strategy is?

Match up your current situation against this back-of-the-napkin approach to coming up with a homeschooling plan for your child:

List the general goals you want your child to reach in his early adulthood. These goals should be ten to fifteen years down the road. Academic goals should only be some of the goals listed. Other educational goals would include family, spiritual, and career goals.

Translate those broad life goals into closer intermediate goals that you would want your child to reach by the time he is eighteen.

Next, translate those intermediate goals you have for your future eighteen year old into very small goals that you could achieve during the coming year.

Once you have that list of goals, you are ready to start shopping and signing up for various educational tools and resources. Every time you ask a friend, browse the web, a school catalog, or sign up for an activity, you should judge its value as to how well it does to getting you closer to your immediate goals.  Does ballet get your daughter closer to becoming a professional author in her adult life? If not, do not sign up. Does the local Remote Control Aircraft club help your child get closer to becoming a great engineer? If so, sign up for it.

The key to all this is to remember that another family’s goals are NOT your goals. Adopting their educational resources by default will only create frustration. This is because their tools are optimized for their specific family goals, not yours. So you must work on understanding what your educational goals are first before you can know which tools make sense for you.

By working backwards from your long-term goals down to your present goals, you will surprise yourself at how much smaller a role traditional academic tools will play in your daily routine. For example, if your daughter wants to actually write books for a living, then joining an online writing club may be far more important than signing up for another Jane Austen course. By working your goals backward in time, you will be able to apportion your child’s time in the right way.

Email me your plan and goals. I will personally read them and give you feedback.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Grades Matter But Caveat Emptor!

Ponder this excerpt of a blog post from the author Daniel Schwabauer. He is best known as the celebrated host of the online “One Year Adventure Novel” program for getting young people to finish their real first novel. He gives this cautionary bit of advice to aspiring writers about demanding and interesting, but in-the-end essentially irrelevant university degrees:

“I graduated from Kansas University with a Masters degree in Creative Writing, an experience from which I am still recovering. Not that I mean to disparage KU’s writing program. Science fiction notable and KU Professor Jim Gunn was one of the best instructors I’ve ever had.

What bothers me is the fact that I left KU having learned a lot about words, and very little about story. This is remarkable considering my experience with a wide variety of classes and teachers. I studied British and American literature, Shakespeare, drama, poetry, short fiction, novels, technical writing, ancient myths, medieval English, essays, even sci-fi. I studied every conceivable kind of writing. But…”

This candid reflection by a professional writer about college helps me to revisit this subject of grades in full context. Remember that in a previous post I disparaged the pursuit of good grades. Here I come back to add a disclaimer and clarification of what I mean. Good grades do matter, but in specific situations only. You need to be sure that your child fits that specific situation or you might be missing out on having your child construct a real life-long talent that will change your son or daughter’s life.

Follow with me the chain of reasoning as to why good grades do matter for some children:

  1. Your child getting good grades matters now if you are intending for your child to pursue a specific program of study at the university level.
  2. And you must have a researched plan that the university program is indeed preparing your child to do something directly related to his long term plan.
  3. And you must be convinced that the university program your child will pursue is the most efficient route to his success in the talent field he wants to be in.
  4. And some paths require you to go through university, such as to get medical training to become a doctor, and an engineering degree for certifications in order to be allowed to work.

However many children intending to go to college, do not fit the above criteria. Be careful as your child may find himself seduced by the idea of campus life as an easy answer as to what he is going to do with his first few years of adulthood. A talented young writer for example should probably do everything in his or her power to stay away from college.

If your child is already very good at producing work others want to read, universities will want to recruit your child to beef up their star status in hopes of recruiting other students who can and will pay full tuition. This come-hither inducement with scholarships and preferential tuition rates can be dangerous to your child’s talent development. Why? Because the skills acquired during the course of a university English degree are designed for consumption and analysis of the works produced by others – not for teaching your child how to create amazing new works. So unless your child is intending to become a high school English teacher, the college degree will set him back severely in both time and money. This time set-back is often serious enough that your son or daughter may never get back on track to the original aspirations. Caveat emptor!

Not a Random Process for Talent Discovery

de: Doktor Livesey und Squire Trelawney unters...

Do you have a map for discovering the talent in your children or are you going to randomly check out several thousand beaches? Get your Talent Guide! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once you understand that you can start deliberately planning for a life long talent in each one of your children, it becomes a very exciting lifestyle for everyone in the family. It is no longer a random process for the parents or the child.

In order to get started working on a talent, the key is to latch onto something tangible for your child.

Therefore, creating a focus of interest on which your child can build the first 100 hours of a talent is the outcome of the workshop I provide in the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

When you have a process, then you will not have your child waste his time with what might really turn out to be:

  • a party trick
  • a quaint hobby
  • or a distraction to fill your child’s spare time

Instead with the right plan on how your child can build himself a real talent, he is  going to at the same time be able to:

  • create value for other people
  • rise above the crowd
  • and live a professional life with passion

Don’t invent the process from scratch, because you can get the right process now from here:

“How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent”

 

Enhanced by Zemanta