These two books have had a profound affect on me. I read them right after another just because they had both been on my reading list for a while. However, the timing was serendipitous, and it has changed the way I approach my children's education and how I raise them.
“The Element” explains that everyone is a genius or has talent in their own right. Everyone. The trick is recognizing it. Sometimes the intelligence we or our kids might have is not easy to see-it’s not traditional. School only teaches one kind of intelligence, and if we don’t fit that world, sometimes our talent can go unrecognized.
Sir Ken’s book is chock full of examples of people who on the outside, didn’t appear to be anything special. But on the inside, they had talent brimming out of them. Some of these people? Paul McCartney, Richard Bransen, Vidal Sasoon, and Arianna Huffington, just to name a few. Your name is there, too. The trick is recognizing this creativity and talent and bringing it out. Sir Ken teaches us how to do that and I love all of his suggestions.
On a different tact, Malcolm Gladwell in his book, studied what made people outliers in their fields, and life in general. The answers varied. But for those who were outliers in talent, he popularized the research that proved that doing 10,000 hours of something will make you world class at it. As in, the best in the world. Proof? The Beatles (hmm, Paul McCartney again), Bill Gates and his cohort, and many, many more. 10,000 hours usually equals about 10 years. And people who do this generally make VERY good livings.
That is when my brain exploded. What if I could help my kids recognize their unique, special talents at an early age, AND get their 10,000 hours started early? They could live a life they LOVED, instead of just putting in time at a dead end job they hated. They could make an awesome living at it, freeing them up to do whatever they wanted to. What an amazing gift to give your children, as you mentor them through this process!
As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has had this idea. Jonathan Harris, creator of 10ktotalent.com, tries to start his kids on their course by the time they are freshmen in high school. Ideally, his kids will be honing their own skills, reaching out to professionals in their specialized field, volunteering to work for free for them, or at the very least, corresponding with them. By the time they are seniors (4 years in), his kids will have gained a significant skill set and developed a portfolio, qualifying them for college scholarships. How awesome is that!?
In college, his children will continue on their course. They will not waste time or money trying to figure out a major. They will also be focused, unlike a lot of college students these days. They will seek internships with some of the best. When they graduate college (with 8 years of work behind them), they will be ready to take the world by storm. And just 2 years post college, these adults will be experts in their field that others will be looking to.
Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?!
But…I don’t think you can put discovering talent and nurturing it on a timeline. I think this is a best case scenario. But I love the concept in general. Even if the timeline is considerably delayed, choosing this direction seems like a great way to intentionally choose a life path that will be rewarding for your kids—wherever their talent lies and whatever timeline they are on.
I can hear some critics saying, “That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not realistic. Every salesman says ‘Follow your dreams,’ but it’s just that-a sales pitch.”
Following your dreams is not a sure fire recipe. Some people have done it and won. Others have done it and lost. What is the difference? I think it can be best illustrated with a Venn diagram.
The gray area is your sweet spot. Some people do what they love, but they stink at it. (No 10,000 hours there.) Or maybe, the world really just doesn’t want pickle flavored chocolate. But I firmly believe that everyone’s creativity has a usefulness, a way to help the world. We just need to find the right angle. Perhaps choosing to work in the gourmet chocolate industry with a variety of flavors (instead of just one) will bring better results.
(Side note: I tried some expensive bacon flavored dark chocolate the other day that was sent to my husband by his employer—it was actually pretty good!)
Not every kid will find their passion early. But we don’t need to push them. Let them be kids. Let them experiment and learn about life. This needs to be self-directed, not parent directed in order to be successful.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be creative with Christmas and birthday presents, or give them new experiences that might be out of their comfort zone. We can help lift their vision.
If kids DO know what they love, let’s get them started! I don’t see anything to be gained by waiting. Keep it light, keep it fun, and just move to the next step up the ladder- remembering that it’s not a race. Let’s help them find what they love and a legitimate way to earn a living and make the world a better place.
Self knowledge is invaluable and ultimately leads to happiness. Let’s help our kids find it. Let’s sentence them to a fun, fulfilling, confidence boosting 10,000 hours doing something they love. Both they and the world will be the better for it.
Community Question: What talents do your kids have? Brag about them!
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