Natural Ability, Hard Work, Frustration, and Genius

The assignment was to come up with a 7 word description of myself and I completed it in the title. Thanks for reading.

Actually, while I was traveling on a road trip recently I tuned into a radio show about people that won something called the “Genius Award”. The show also had someone that studied people that were considered exceptional in their respective fields, which was fascinating. The gist of what they concluded was that being a prodigy does not necessarily mean that the person will rise to the top of his field.

What they determined was that for a person to become exceptional in a given field, he has to be willing to almost constantly go beyond the limits of his comfort zone. Leaving the comfort zone means that he will often fail, and will not feel within himself or seem to others that he is adept at what he is doing. That would be frustrating and constantly humbling. This means that how a person deals with failure is one of the key determinants of whether he will develop exceptional ability. Something else that was generally necessary was daily practice, usually for hours.

This researcher suggested that parents not tell their kids that they are smart. She said that if a child thinks he is of above average skills or intelligence, they will expect not to fail. This child, rather than taking a risk in trying something new, will be more likely to avoid failure, and therefore would not be a person of initiative. Whether or not this is how it actually plays out, I thought it was very interesting.

As an alternative, she suggested that when the child fails or hits a dead end, the parent say something to the effect of, “How interesting. What are you going to do with that?” The idea is to develop curiosity and problem solving.

What I was pleased about was that leaving the range I’m often disappointed in how well I do, but that I keep going back. That means I’m probably working outside my comfort zone, but can deal with that well enough to persist. Where I’m really lacking is in sufficient practice and work to move my level of competency significantly for the better. That would be a pretty important thing to change, if change for the better is a priority.

There have been times when I was concerned that I was putting too much work and not enough fun into my rifle shooting. Upon reflection, I think that “fun”, being transitory, is less important that happiness or satisfaction in one’s life. Knowing that I worked hard and did my best, even outside my comfort zone would make me happy.

8 thoughts on “Natural Ability, Hard Work, Frustration, and Genius

  1. After physical workouts, I often ask myself if I have trained hard enough. I grew up with a world class athlete as a role model, but I quickly learned that I could not expect to perform at his level. I did use his example as a motivator though.

    I think most people do not know what training is. The lack of discipline currently expressed in our society is tragic.

  2. Good post, leaves us with much upon which to cogitate. Not only that, but some things to think about too! Detached, unemotional, honest self-analysis is one of the best, most important, and most difficult of activities.

    You are right about the satisfaction part. Cooper used to often quote Parkinson’s (paraphrased) “happiness is the by-product of achievement”. But the “fun” part shouldn’t be left out either, that’s also a good motivator. Sometimes having a training partner with which to compete in impromtu drills keeps the fun factor up. (paraphrased) “happiness is the by-product of achievement”. But the “fun” part shouldn’t be left out either, that’s also a good motivator. Sometimes having a training partner with which to compete in impromtu drills keeps the fun factor up. And seeing failure as nothing more than a further challenge is a good point too.

    Maybe it’s about time I got over the first time I failed to tie my shoes properly, and make the brave leap away from loafers!

  3. Colorado Pete – I made the leap the first time I run out of my shoes and had to hobble home,but that beat being beaned with a bat ,serious motivator I say- kinda like making the shot or going hungry

    • That is tooo funny Rawhider!

      I will admit though, I’ve never been one to move out of my comfort zone unless I had it forced on me. Better late than never though.

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