Monday, August 15, 2011

Stealing a March

One more encouraging idea about talent, or ability, or whatever – Future talent cannot be measured by current talent. Personal progress cannot be predicted. Talent equals effort multiplied by an unknown quantity of time (a unit I like to call a mysterion.)

Some people suck at something for years, then all the sudden something clicks. Or they go from “just okay” to “wow” in a few short months, halfway through their career. The phenomenon of plateauing for a while and then making rapid progress is really common.

Every time I find myself busting my butt at something, and feeling like I’m not getting anywhere, beating my head against a wall, and maybe I’m just no good at whatever it is I’m doing, I try to keep this in mind and take heart. Progress is a complex, chaotic, unpredictable thing, nobody knows which tap is the last one that brings the wall down.

I recently posted this as a comment on Dean Wesley Smith's blog, about the myth of talent -

I liked what I wrote so much I'm reposting it here. Because I wanted to share this priceless nugget a little more widely (actually, Dean gets about a billion hits for every one of mine.) Also, it is long enough to qualify as a daily blog pots, under my ill-defined rule-set (read: I'm making it up as I go along.)

This is what's known as stealing a march. That's military history type talk for one upping the opposition while they sleep. Google it, I'll wait. It may not really actually apply here, but it sounds neat.

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