Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm talented, and so are you

Mario was watching something on CNN this weekend and one of the guests on the news show was author Malcolm Gladwell. I didn't hear the entire interview, but Gladwell was talking about his new book, Outliers, and he had a theory about talent that really resonated with me.

He used the old joke about "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" He said that talented people are people who love to practice.

Yes, he agrees that someone can be born with an innate talent (for sports, music - or sewing), but without the will to practice - and without taking pleasure from practice, and therefore wanting to practice - the "innately talented" can be surpassed by those who enjoy the work and are willing to do it.

Gladwell continued on to give the Beatles as an example. Most people think of the Beatles as four young Brits who just burst onto the music scene, but he gave as background the fact that they spent more than a year working as a house band in a strip club in Hamburg, Germany, working 8 hours days, 7 days a week. When you work like that - and want to, obviously, even though it must have been a godawful job - you build the skills to turn you into, well, . . . the Beatles.

Yes, I'm getting around to sewing eventually. I'm sure that any of you who sew have had someone say, "You're so talented!" when you're wearing one of your own garments. And now, instead of brushing the compliment aside, saying something like "Oh, it's not that hard, I'm sure you could do it," smile brightly, and say thank you. Because you are.

You are talented. You did the work, you continue to do the work, you enjoy the work even when it's frustrating and annoying and endless.

And those people who say, "I could never do that" are right. They can't, because they haven't sat down to even see if they can.

Since I didn't have a stock photo of a soap box, the photos accompanying this rant are courtesy of my spring garden.

On the other hand, maybe they are appropriate, because I frequently hear "You're such a talented gardener!" Yes, I am. I work my butt off out there, and my hard work bears fruit. And tomatoes too.


Kathie said...

oh, so true... thanks for putting it so well. Gladwell says a lot of things that stay with one.
Upstate New York

Jen said...

True. I get that a lot .. and I always offer, well, you could learn to sew if you want to, it's not that hard. But not one person has ever tried.

Little Hunting Creek said...

You're right, and Gladwell is right too.People have commented on my clothes and quilts and say - Oh I don't have the patience! And you do have to put in the seat time to make something nice. When asked how long it took her to make a quilt, Caryl Bryer Fallert said, "It took three weeks to make it, and twenty years to know how". So now that's what I say when people ask how long did it take- two days to make it, twenty years to know how.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...


Gretchen the Household Deity said...

I have also been thinking of a rant on the "you're so talented!" comment, but I come at it slightly differently. The garden looks fantastic.

Nancy K said...

Absolutely true, and well said. Thanks for the pat on the back.

Connie B said...

Stay on that soapbox! Now off to practice,practice, practice!! ps wedding on Sat!!

Kat said...

Your post really resonated with me. It reminds me of DD#2. An average (maybe even below average) sports ability. We often thought that softball was not her thing. There were so many girls better than her, some really showing a lot of talent/innate ability.

But after two years, she really got bitten by the sports bug and her desire and motivation to practice and get better have propelled her above girls we used to think would make the Varsity team as HS Freshman. She has become an amazing player because of her motivation, desire, and work ethic.

What happened to the naturally talented? Most of them are good, but they don't compare with DD#2. Most did not have the same intrinsic traits necessary to propel them to be truly gifted in the sport.