There are clear markers to pay attention to in the process of discovering your talents.
My son loved his Middle School music teacher and hung on every word the guy said, when John enthusiastically decided he wanted to learn to play the sax. We bought him a tenor sax.
It was a delight to see his ambition and enthusiasm. For six months, he followed his prescribed practice schedule. In fact, we got two saxes and I practiced with my son.
We noticed John only wanted to practice what was prescribed. After that, the sax went in the case until the next practice listed on the calendar. We suggested picking up the sax for fun, but he always had something else to do.
It’s not clairvoyant to notice when your 10-year old says he can’t practice his sax because he has to clean his room.
John knew the scales and the basics, but he never went beyond that, such as playing around until feeling the bliss of discovering some new sound or trick he could do.
When we sat down to discuss stopping the lessons, John was all for it. He didn’t want to say it himself, but the sax-playing obsession had waned.
Part of talent is elevated desire, drive, and commitment for something. After learning the basics, practice becomes meaningless.
When you’ve found something that you are talented in you, do it until your fingers ache, and your lips get numb. You, the creator, are lit up, blissful just from doing it!
Take golf for example. Playing golf for the first time, you’ll try to understand the basic strokes and focus on avoiding gross mistakes, like driving the ball into another player.
Then you practice your put, hit balls at a driving range, and play rounds with others who are most likely novices like you. In a surprisingly short time (perhaps 50 hours), you will develop better control and improve your game.
From then on, you will work on your skills by driving and putting more balls and engaging in more games, until your strokes become automatic.
Then you’ll think less about each shot and play more from mechanical intuition. Your golf game now is a social outing, in which you occasionally concentrate on your shot.
You don’t improve because, at this point, you’re playing a game. It’s casual, not serious practicing.
However, if something triggers you to go out by yourself for an hour and take five to ten shots from the exact same location on the course, you would get more feedback on your technique and start to adjust your playing style to improve your control.
This is not mechanical. It’s the deliberate practice that masters do.
Masters of the game are first masters of practice.
After the Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship in 1986, Larry Bird said, he still had things to work on. I’ll start the off-season training next week, two hours a day, and at least a hundred free throws.
LeBron James was distraught about his 2011 losses. He said that in the off-season, he wasn’t going to rest. He would work on his game relentlessly, specifically on his offensive game and efficiency.
So you see talent is beyond rote practice.
Real talent is being happy working on your “game” even when no one is paying attention.
Jerry Seinfeld told Alec Baldwin on Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee talent is not what is lacking. What is lacking Jerry said, is cultivation of talent!