Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Single talent is not enough to flourish in life

Please read this blog to understand what is talent, especially the cognitive talent, and what are the four stages in the unfolding of the talent.

We have seen that A&P performers have a uni-dimensional talent like dancing or playing a game like tennis. But even in A&P field, one 'ability' is not enough to produce extraordinary results. See this example of Alexander Dolgopolov. He is a very talented tennis player, but seems to lack the capability of making a ' game strategy' that is required to succeed at the highest level. Another tennis legend, Pete Sampras, in one of his interview talked about another unique ability required by tennis players: the 'ability to find emotional support' while travelling 250 days in a year.

In A&P talents, there are many such examples of talented performers who do not seem to do justice to their talent because of lack of some critical ability. That is why a talented performer in A&P field never pursues a single ability, but a set of abilities, which we call as Talent zone. His teachers in second stage of talent development help him identify these 'complementary abilities' and nurture it.

In cognitive field, as we have seen before, knowledge work often requires a multiple set of competencies to get the work done. Be it sales, design, innovation, or management, one ability is rarely enough to accomplish the task. Or be it in medicine, law, accounts or engineering, one cannot perform excellently with one ability.

In my coaching i have found simple traits becoming an Achilees heel for an otherwise talented performer. I have seen an excellent 'sales performer' who could not flourish in his talent because he lacked the skill to 'survive in corporate culture'. Or an excellent brand manager who could not excel in his talent because he lacked the skill of 'perception management'.

Out of all the competencies that significantly determine the progress of a performer, if I have to name one, it is mind management. One of the difference between an average performer and extraordinary performer is not the  amount of 'talent', but ability to manage one's mind, or what is called as 'mental toughness' or 'mental strength'. If you are following careers in sports, you will often hear this.

If, for instance, you observe the careers of Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar in cricket, Vinod Kambli was always supposed to be more talented than Sachin.  It was Vinod who made the first double century before Sachin despite entering test arena later than Sachin. But over a period of years, Vinod Kambli could not perform as well as Sachin despite huge talent, because of  this poor mental strength.

Many students, when i talk to them, always assume that they will develop 'mental strength' once they succeed. But the ability of Mind management has to be seeded early in life to produce the fruit at the required time. Some competencies can be learnt quickly, but mind-management requires a long time to seed and mature.

Even a farmer knows this difference. If he wants a Mango or coconut, it takes 5-7 years after he plants the sapling. If he however wants grapes, apple, pomegranate or gauva, it takes about 1-2 years. If he however desires sugarcane, it takes less than 12 months. He knows he cannot shorten this time despite whatever  'effort'. Even though better techniques help him reduce this time a bit, the quality suffers !

If Vinod Kambli requires 'mental toughness' when he is not performing, he cannot learn it quickly enough. Like they say, one cannot learn swimming when one is drowning. Even if he, due to divine force, learns it, his opportunity time window passes away by the time he learns mind management. Even if learns the new skill, he will not get the chance to play cricket. Many talented performers fail at this hurdle, because they forgot or ignore to seed the 'mental strength' at the right age.

Have you started teaching mind-management to your child?

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