Question of the Day December 19, 2011 ~ Talents

Would you like to share your talents with us? Please tell us about them!

I’m a sort of Mr Fixit.
I like to know how things work.
I keep looking, and trying, until I figure things out.
When things break, I fix them, with whatever is available at the time.

When not fixing things, I am usually building new skills at something.
I am fairly good at fixing most things, mechanical and electrical, somewhat less skilled at things human 😉

[followed by]

Hi Jen

In my understanding, talent is a misnomer. Talent is the result of practice. Perhaps the reasons for the practice differ from person to person, but the result is the same, continue repetition, usually fueled by passion, assisted by discipline, and aided and abetted by persistence.

Certainly there is a degree of luck in all of life, and on average, over time, persistence brings its own luck.

I say you have a real talent for investigation and communication of complex philosophic concepts.

[followed by]

Hi Jen

You asked “though why call aquired skills from practice ‘talent’?”
The answer to that seems rather straight forward to me.
When people are working from an explanatory framework that has an external locus of control, then everything about themselves has to occur as some sort of “gift of the gods” and as such, needs some sort of label which is appropriate for that frame of understanding.

When individuals transition from a framework of understanding that is an external authority, to one where control is shared between historical patterns and internally created patterns, and one takes responsibility for the personal input (or lack thereof) in all situations, then one has transitioned to an internal locus of control; and the notion of “talent” ceases to have the meaning it once did.

Certainly we all have the histories we have, and certainly all histories are different, with different opportunities presenting themselves. And if we look closely, we ignore far more opportunities than we take advantage of (each of us, every day). So there is a very real sense in which at this level, we can each be the authors of our own destinies, and there are also always external factors.

The most advanced of “dinosaur philosophers” did not possess the technology to divert a meteorite. Nor do we yet, and we could be less than a decade away from it, if we, as a society, chose such an outcome. It would not take much in terms of alteration of the incentive structures already in place in our social systems.

And certainly, the environment and genetics does give each of us a different set of base systems from which we develop.

I most certainly did mean the luck of both where and when we get born, and where and when we happen to be at each stage on our lives.

And some people are much more able to see the favourable opportunities that surround them, and make use of them, than others (most of us are taught to avoid the unfavourable, and spend so much time avoiding risks that we miss all the opportunities that are their companions).
In this context I love that quote from Helen Keller:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

And I balance it with a few others – two of my favourites being:
“There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots” and;
“All things in moderation, particularly moderation”.

Take a calculated risk or ten, and make sure they are calculated.
Become familiar with the territory before taking too many risks – build skills and confidence through practice.

We all have the talent to become anything we choose – but not everything.
Choose wisely and well.
Be persistent, don’t give up.
Be committed, and not attached, to outcomes.


[followed by]

Hi Jen and Victoria

I agree with all you say Jen. You were “spot on” with my singing ability. I hold the distinction of being the only person ever to be asked to leave the Kaikoura choir. I have never been able to figure out exactly what the sound I am making is. It sounds OK to me, but terrible to others. I can hear others accurately, but not myself.

As to my fixit skill, I am sure it does have some genetic components, and the biggest of them was a little flap of skin under my tongue that make it hard for me to speak, and harder still for anyone else to understand. That, combined with my dad working on remote farms from much of my childhood, meant that I did not socialise, and I had sheds full of old broken machines that no one minded if I took them apart and played with them (so long as I didn’t lose any of the bits).
After a few years I started to be able to put some of them back together in working order. And it sort of grew from there. Working part time in a country service station and engineering shop helped. One of the owners was an ex aircraft mechanic, another was a master fitter welder, another an ex race car mechanic. So I picked up different high level skills from each of them, and kept building the confidence to have a go at anything, however un-doable and unknown it might seem.
So Jen is right, thousands of hours of fixing thing, with the first few thousand hours containing far more failures than successes – and a lot of learning in the process.
Working on fishing boats, and knowing that in rough weather, if something breaks, you often only have minutes to get it fixed to avoid shipwreck, also builds skill and confidence of ability under stress.

So I agree with Jen, that for the most part, we all have the genetic abilities to be almost anything, and it is what we do, over and over again, that builds, hones and refines the abilities we have.

Bethhoven is a master example. Some people say he had a gift. But look at the record. He was from a musical family, and trained for 10 hours a day from the age of 3. By 16 his compositions were OK, but showed no particular brilliance. By 20 he was into new territory, going places no mind had been before.
He developed his genius, by lots of practice, and a willingness to try new things, and to fail a lot, but never to give up.

My first school teacher told my parents I was retarded, and would be a special needs child for life.
I wonder where I would be if my parents had believed that expert?
19 months ago, the leading expert on melanoma in this country told me to go home and get my affairs in order, as I had a less than 50% chance of living 5 months. 2 months ago he said “Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it, there are no signs of tumours anywhere in you.”

I believe that every human being has that sort of power to influence their future, and it also seems to me that there are no guarantees in life. Stuff happens. Probabilities sometimes work against us. And with a lot of effort, we can shift those probability curves in our favour.

I don’t know the future. No one knows the future. And some futures are more probable than others.
It seems to me that all of us make a difference to the future. All of our choices count. And the more there are making certain sorts of choices, the more probable certain outcomes become.

That knowledge gives me the confidence to continue, however low the probabilities may seem.
I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that it is possible to create systems that provided abundance for all – no exceptions.
I also know that it is extremely difficult to see that possibility from within a paradigm dominated by money.
And the money dominated economic system is currently in crisis.
Greed is maintaining the crisis, and deepening it.
So more and more people are being forced into an economic reality where they are able to see the flaws in the existing systems, and are beginning to consider the possibility of real alternatives.
This process gives me real cause for long term optimism.

It seems we may just be able to create systems that allow us to “fix” these bodies of ours so that they work forever; and we may just be able to fix the system so that it works for everyone, not just a tiny minority at the top.

When I’ve fixed those two things, I’ll relax and play a lot more 😉

[followed by]

Beautifully said Zephyr

As you say, listening is about make space for another, and has many levels.
I find it hardest to suspend my judgements about what the other is saying. I find myself “jumping to conclusions” rather than staying open to possibility.

That practice, of suspending judgements, or letting go of judgements, and creating a clearing within for possibility to manifest (to still the noise of the conscious mind, so that we may hear the voices and see the visions of the subconscious); can be learned quite easily. And sometimes it is scary to give up the illusion of conscious control (to see it for the illusion it is), and to just accept that we can have conscious input, but not full conscious control.

Placing oneself in situations where one can practice it in emergencies is a little more problematic – and doable.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s