I grew up with a mother that, loving though she was, believed that people with great talent – artists, writers and the like – are born with their special gift. She would often watch a program on PBS, say a broadcasting of one of the MET’s operas, and say afterward, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to….’ (Fill in the blank for the specific talent).
You can imagine how hard it was to believe that I could accomplish much, given my mother’s feelings about human genius being confined to the few born into it.
I think a lot of us were raised with parents like this.
Fortunately, I was jolted into overturning these beliefs — a combination of lifetime fascination with human potential (must be my mom’s influence again) — and a personal crisis over the menial work I was doing.
Since my life’s mission is now helping others understand their potential, I’ve given some thought as to how to explain to people, when they insist they aren’t creative, or ‘can’t dance’, that they are espousing a lie. The best metaphor I can think of is – polishing a rock.
My fiance’s daughter has always loved rocks and shells: Geological formations found as little splintered-off things that show their insides. They always show a pattern of some sort.
One day, my fiancé ordered a rock polisher online, called a tumbler, for his daughter.
We put the stones in the metal basin, plus a dose of the supplied sand, turned the machine on, and for a couple of months the thing turned and turned, polishing the little mineral slabs with is constant motion.
When we finally pulled them out, it was like Christmas morning. Not only were they transformed by the sheen and soft buttery feel they now had, but their artistry was more apparent. It was no longer a rock with a few nice colors, it was a thing of beauty.
Human beings are like this. Metaphorically speaking, we all are gifted with some aspect, feature, interest, obsession even, that were we to pull this thing out, make a cross section of it, and polish it, it would gleam.
The challenge is not that people are somehow born without a unique essence – it is there even if one must hunt for it. People just don’t know the technique of paying attention to see what stands out in themselves.
I do. I just gave it to you.
Photo by bensonkua
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23 thoughts on “‘Rock’-ing Your Gift”
Great story. We definitely can put limits on our own potentials. Sounds like we have similar passions.
I helped write a free ebook on our site to help people find their Ultimate Potential and Balanced Life. One of the points in the book that we share is that we all have talents and passions.
The trick is to find these, improve them and focus on them. Many people try to do all things, which leads to frustration, disappointment, and slows your progress. You’d be surprised what you can do with the talents your given and how you can apply them in your career.
Hi Bryce, I’ll Google your eBook. I never tire of reading books on developing one’s potential. The greatest recent read is Dan Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind, Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future’. It’s very readable, not pencil-necky at all!
The website is http://www.balancedworklife.com
Thanks I appreciate it.
I think sometimes, in addition to never realizing our potential because we haven’t worked to find it in the cases where it’s not glaringly obvious, we can get so distracted by what we “should” be doing that we limit the areas in which we look for “acceptable” or “useful” potential. Someone who’s convinced that an MBA is the way to success won’t look for their potential in artistry, or even want it if they find it.
And I think sometimes when we say, “Wouldnt it be nice if I could…” we don’t necessarily mean that being gifted from birth is the only way to achieve something. We may just think that working for that particular gift isn’t worth it to us, and we’d only use something like that if it were effortless.
It’s suck a tricky thing — to know that if something is worth pursuing, it is at once effortless because we really want it and it resonates, but full of effort because now there is INTENTION which requires some EFFORT.
Thanks for responding!
Fortunately for me, my parents always instilled
a level of confindence as I was growing up.They
still preach this philosophy today.
I can hear them say, “You never know what you
can do unless you try”. They were very big
advocates of believing I can do or be anything
I wanted to if I just applied myself. And in no
way, shape or form were they ever envious of
someone’s abilities or gifts. They firmly believed
they could do the same…especially my dad.
I do believe though that people are naturally
born with different levels of aptitude which
allows for the foundational application to be
applied with less effort. By no means does this
mean that the person born with less inherent
aptitude couldn’t excel.
Thank goodness for mom and dad. Their philosophy
has rubbed off on me as well.
Thanks for responding, I so appreciate your point of view! agree with you in that, people are born with different levels of aptitude, and hence their ‘starting point’ for what they want to accomplish might be well ahead of others’, or behind, or however you might define this difference [You put it so well].
It’s just so hard to get (some) people to the idea that they thruly have something to offer, that I don’t distinguish the gradients of aptitude at the outset, if people are to understand my point — which is that they have something to bring out that will define and make their life (and others’) better.
I’d love to hear a post from you on what it might feel like to have parents such as yours as a starting point in life. To what degree do you feel you have more courage or more optimism or more tools as a result of the support you had from your parents?
Something to think about.
Wow this is a great post! I really do believe that each and every person has the potential to become a diamond, pushed and pressed with intense amounts of pressure which reveal our true form.
All things that we experience in life – help us to smooth away the rough edges and shine us so that we can really be on the outside what we always were on the outside.
It feels so good to be able to have found this blog and share this wonderful positive energy with you.
Thanks for sharing. I have found that trying to stay ‘awake’ and paying attention to details (of anything) has helped me to notice more, feel more, do more..which helps in polishing the inner gift, too.
There are people who are born wih gifts.
Mozart may have been a child prodigy, but he still had to practise his craft.
Same with Pablo Picasso. Pablo honed his skills via “learning by doing.”
Many people underestimate the importance of hard work.
No matter how talented you are, you still have to practice.
Practice makes perfect, goes the saying.
Nice post, by the way.
Practice and intention and never giving up, I agree all around. My concern in reaching people is that when they hear the words ‘practice’ or ‘genius’ or ‘prodigy’ they think of someone other than themself. It’s so important for people to see that their jewel, however tiny or unpolished, is worth working at, and they should begin with whatever energy they have. The energy, practice and craft will grow as it feeds them.
Thanks so much for writing a comment,
Wonderful post, Jillian! I so agree that there’s a special talent in each of us, just waiting to be called forth! I think that the routines of our everyday life can push our gifts to the back seat – sometimes all we have energy for is to get through the day. But if we don’t pay attention to what we have to share with the world, the loss isn’t only ours it’s everyone’s.
Melinda, thanks for writing. I’m a bit radical in that, I feel that the routines of everyday life can be so draining of the energy needed to polish our gifts that if at all possible, we should cut down hours to make room for the *gift* to grow. Sometimes that means radical alternation to lifestyle & income. I always found that in trying to burn both ends of the candle, I accomplish little all around. Now that my energy is freed up, amazing things happen daily.
It is not easy to accomplish I know.
Wow – are we in sync! Check out my blog post from this morning:
Jillian, this is a beautiful analogy that encourages focus and purpose and passion. Thank you for the image. It touches me especially because my father was a geologist, and he often compared people to the evolution of the earth’s geology. And I used to have one of those polishers. Now I’ll remember this when I get impatient about my own personal polishing process. :)
Ande, thanks for sharing. I love how, I didn’t think about rocks at all until I met Scott and his daughter (and who is named ‘Sierra’, how appropriate). It’s lovely to know that people can bring surprises all the time, with their interests.
Hi Jillian – good post! It’s the image of the rock polisher that sticks with me. Specifically, it reminds me that from time to time all of us can feel like we are “tumbling around” for months on end. The trick is to remind ourselves that these forces are serving to polish us and not to break us down. It’s all in how you choose to look at it.
Patrick, thanks for telling me which detail worked for you. We are such imagery-driven creatures. I have heard it is best to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’.
It’s amazing how we perceive ourselves as untalented just because we don’t appear to have the same type/degree of natural talent that another person has. I grew up feeling like I had no talent. Despite the fact that I loved to write from the age of 4, I didn’t see it as anything special. Not only do I now believe that everyone has some natural talent, I also believe that talent can be developed where it may not seem to exist. I wrote an article about that a while ago. I’ll share the link with you: http://blog.self-improvement-saga.com/2009/11/talent/
Great content idea. I’ll have to put pen
to paper on that soon.
Our beliefs are constantly strained by the opinions of others. It is only when we truly accept that we have complete control over our lives do we begin to make progress. It is true that people’s brains are wired differently. Some people are naturally more attuned with mathematics while others excel in philosophy for example. However, the mind is constantly rewiring itself so long as you are willing to challenge your beliefs. When you discover your passion there is no force in the world that can stop you. A perfect example of this was Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team but did not give up.
Yes, and I really embraced my passion with the discovery of Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft. Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element is good for this, too.
Thanks for sharing Chris.