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The Column icon The Column: Issue 28

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

No Talent? No Problem
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

Intelligence is overrated almost as much as talent. Having either quality is neither a recipe for achieving success or happiness, although both qualities may bring economic gain. Talent may be inbuilt or acquired. Unlocking talent, and achieving its potential is only part of the broader picture of what goes to make up a creative powerhouse...

Defining Talent

Defining talent is not easily. The word talent comes from the Greek word From the Greek word Talent meaning balance or weight. Perhaps you have a definition of talent. Do you consider yourself talented?:

A person who possesses unusual innate ability in some field or activity.

A special aptitude, faculty, or 'gift'.

An innate (inborn) ability to perform a task.

A characteristic feature or disposition of a person.

A special aptitude, often creative or artistic.

Born Better

We're generally born different - except for identical twins. In the future there will be clones too, but even when we share identical DNA, we live in a different time and space than any other individual.

It is the experience we gain in our time and space that sets us apart from others, and it is this that defines us as much as our physical potential. I use the term physical here in its broadest context, right down to the subtleties of how well we can throw a ball, perceive colour, or distinguish segments of time (innate rhythmic ability - the 'natural musician') etc.

'Talented' people are sometimes perceived of as being 'born better'. Talent however in no way guarantees the qualities of strong will, concentration, clear thinking, or sensitivity, all of which are immeasurably useful in the process of creativity.

Talented Children

There's no simple equation that defines a talented child. For the sake of this column, I'll divide talented children into two groups. Those who have a predisposition to do certain tasks more easily than most, and those who are exceptionally precocious in a particular field.

There are many, many talented children. It's my belief that the vast majority of children start out talented, but that without nurturing, that talent lays dormant, often to the end of their days. I've spent many, many hours teaching, observing, and playing with children. I am always struck by how most adults significantly underestimate the depth of a child's understanding and potential. That's a convenient perspective for adults, and is used as an excuse to expend less effort on the encouragement of others.

Most often, drawing talent out in children is simply a matter of journeying with the individual as they discover their interest and commitment towards a particular subject, expression, or medium. Encouragement is everything in all our endeavours. Very few manage to develop their talent without external help.

Extraordinary Talent

There are those like Mozart, for whom the world is different. They've abilities that one would normally assume only adults could gain after years of hard work and study. Child prodigies usually share a drive and an enormous capacity for hard work.
These 'exceptionally gifted' children are rare however, and more often than not they never attain the heady expectations that many have of them in their early days.

Not only must their temperament be able to withstand the inner pressures of their 'gifts', they must be fortunate enough to be guided by a hand that encourages their talent, and provides the wisdom, personal, and social support that helps move a child from their world into the wider sphere. Without love and mentoring, the child is lost and never achieves their potential.

Acquired Talent

There seem three great inner forces at play that build an effective creative individual: potential, passion, and perseverance.

The first, potential, we all have. Most times we don't believe it unless someone else tells us. I prefer the term 'potential' rather than 'talent'. People are more willing to accept they have some of that. I was lucky. Despite low academic success at school, I was loved by my farther and mother, by foster parents, and my two aunts who cared for me through my childhood. In particular, my aunt Connie has constantly encouraged my creative potential by her confidence in it. I believe it is her belief in the value of what I do creatively that has left me with the drive to do the best I can.

Passion in what we do, whatever it is, must be present if we're to archive excellence. Talent without passion produces mediocre results. Passion in what we do drives us that extra mile to perform at our best. Our best, whoever we are, whatever its 'level of achievement', can inspire both ourselves and others. With time, study, and practice, what appears little innate talent, often grows to being a significant force.

My message here is that we can, with passion and hard work, achieve far greater things than often we believe of ourselves...


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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also a Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company producing award winning backup solutions.

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