We all have a natural inclination to be skilled or gifted. It’s not even consciously conscious until someone tells us we’re talented. It turns out that we’re born with it. How much of it do we display? What happens when we start to think about this? How does it shape how we see ourselves and the world?
Here are some of the questions people ask of me when they talk to me about this:
‘I was reading this book and it seemed so good I didn’t want to stop. I would have never dreamed it had such a rich story.’
‘When I read that book I saw that you actually went to work at this job and got really good at it, how much did you get right and what was not?’
‘Is your life in this book autobiographical in any serious way?’
‘Do you have an interest in science? Do you have some kind of passion for science?’
The first question is especially important because if you’re reading a book about how to learn, the first thing that comes to mind is, I am learning how to learn that skill. What I’m interested in is whether I’m learning things I can use and apply in a different way and whether I think I can use that to be successful. I want to find out whether I feel like I can use it properly and apply it in different ways. And if I don’t, where do I go from there? Do I try to apply everything that I know from books and training (which in this case would be writing a very small amount of science, the kind of thing I would have never had done in the first place), or do I go find a different job? What is my career vision and path?
A great example of someone who’s going through an interesting time is this kid who’s studying biology and psychology at Cambridge (and who is also an amazing writer). He’s doing a PhD in the field, but he really wants to be a scientist and wants to be doing research he wants to be good at. So he’s going through a lot right now. When someone tells him, I’m really interested in what you’re studying, how are you going to pay for it. What are you doing to get to that place where when you graduate, you can just go get a job and have the money you need to support yourself and be a good scientist? He goes, ‘Oh no,’ and goes in and does this really interesting thing with his life.
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