Just got through a book someone recommended me, Talent is Overrated: What Truly Separates World-Class Performers From Everyone Else by Geoff Colvin. I was expecting it to be a motivational book, since I was talking about a motivational book (The Nerdist Way) when this book was recommended to me. But it’s not really a motivational book. It’s more of a report on findings from several studies of super-achievers. Reading the book may motivate some people while discouraging others.
However, I learned several things. People who seem incredibly awesome and talented in their fields have been doing what they do constantly and for a long period of time. Practice only makes perfect if you are doing the correct type of practice for your field. Motivation has to come from within. Being incredibly awesome in your field means physical changes in your brain chemistry as well. I am right when I say no amount of practice at any age would have ever turned me into Michael Jordan because I am 5’2″. I will never be able to play like Yo-Yo Ma unless I start practicing right now and he stops playing to give me a chance to catch up. The sooner you start (start anything from writing to salsa dancing) the better you’ll be in 10 years. The first few years you will produce close to garbage.
Basically, what makes the Greats so great is years and years of dedication and challenging themselves to reach new levels. They weren’t born with the talent so much as the drive to be great and the encouragement of others from early on.
I find that the book did motivate me. I think it helps that I’ve been writing for years and therefore, am not starting at square one. I might be at square 2, but that’s okay. The point is I have some background in it already. So now I have to take it to the next level if I want to be great. And I’ve always said, I don’t need to be Vonnegut, and I don’t. I’m not going to be disappointed if I never reach that level. But I know I can do better than the level I;m at right now. And that is what I’m going to latch on to.
I had a dream yesterday, after finishing the book, that my turtle escaped his cage and fell on the floor. It was hurt, but shrugged it off like a flesh wound. As weird as it sounds, I’m going to take that as a metaphor for my ambition and creativity. Finally breaking out of the cage, hurt, but ready to go.