On being naturally talented

I spent this morning working on a play that I’m writing. This afternoon I’m going to do some illustration for my next book. If my previous teachers were to have picked a child least likely to grow up and write a play, or illustrate a book, I would have been a strong contender.

I’ve never displayed any natural talent for ‘the arts’. So I’ve been happy to spend most of my life believing what other people told me I am, and am not, capable of.

But… one of the very cool things about us humans is that we can grow in any direction we choose. We just need to have the courage to choose it and the integrity to live our choice. So if you’ve put yourself in a box. Or if someone else has labelled you as ‘not good enough’ at something. Please know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

The natural talent that all of us have is our natural human talent for being curious, for choosing to focus, for persevering. It’s this talent that encourages me to try new things and keep going even if progress is slow. Over time it might start to feel like drawing or writing come easily to me. But most things become easier if you practice them for 1000s of hours. Drawing and writing are things I choose to work hard at. I fail a lot. But slowly I improve.

Putting ourselves, or others, in a box can be a way of making an excuse to be rigid with our abilities. I have started to encounter this a lot. People talk about my ability to draw as if my ability is an excuse for them to not bother trying. I sometimes feel that they would rather believe that I have a natural talent that came easily and instantly to me rather than the truth – that I simply chose to spend a great deal of time getting better at something.

There are kids in my life that I care about. Sometimes I daydream about what they will ‘be’ when they grow up. But in truth what I want them to be is curious, playful, able to focus, prepared to work hard at something they feel passionate about. I hope they learn to use these natural talents to their full potential and don’t spend their lives living in a box.

drawing_before and after

My drawing efforts – before and after a lot of practice.

A big thank you to Mr Chris Packe who helped prompt these thoughts into a post.