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You’ve got talent

Albert Einstein talent quote

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. ~ Albert Einstein

My grandma once told me that she had no talent. I was only sixteen, but even then I knew enough to be sad that she believed it. I also thought she was wrong.

Okay, sure, she couldn’t play piano, or paint, or sing. But why do we only think of art—or so-called “hard” subjects like math and science—when we think of creativity, talent, and genius?

Pretty much since I started thinking about it—probably around the time my grandma made her confession—I’ve believed that everyone is a genius at something. Whether or not our culture values that talent—or even recognizes it as such—is another matter.

Maybe my grandmother’s stunning ability was patience. Or solving puzzles. Or the fortitude to persevere through hard times.

Because what is genius really, but the creative application of ideas and knowledge? Hence, creativity.

I used to think being creative only applied to artistic ability. While the word creativity does have an artistic connotation, it’s application is not strictly limited to those pursuits. But for a long time, I thought I wasn’t creative. It wasn’t until my thirties(!) that I decided my creativity was of a different sort: solving problems and improving efficiency.

Of course now I use it as a writer. Writing challenges me every day. That’s one reason I love it so much. I use—or try to use—creativity to solve plot problems, develop scenes and characters and setting, and do it in a way that no one else does. But can you imagine any area of life where creativity is not helpful?

Parenting, convincing your boss to choose your idea or give you a raise, managing your finances, maintaining a good relationship with your partner, running a business, navigating the obstacles life throws in your path.

In the end, maybe it doesn’t matter if you have creativity, talent, or genius in an area. All you can do is your best. But if you love something, do it. The accolades may or may not follow, but at least you’ll be having fun.

And the ability to enjoy yourself even when you’re not a genius at something is probably a form of genius in itself.

5 Comments

  1. Reply

    Rather than the genius aspect, the idea of improving my own abilities of things I enjoy doing– gardening, cooking, guitar playing, art and writing to name a few– these are what I like sharing with others. Nice post.

  2. Reply

    Gwen. Excellent post. I appreciate the opportunity to remember.

    The most creative person I have ever known was an electrician. I worked construction with him during summers when I was in college. He would have never used the word, let alone used the word in relation to himself, nor engaged in a conversation about the subject. The whole idea would have been foreign to him. But, his work!

    Where one person on the crew bent pipe, he sculpted it. Where another person on the crew used couplings in random fashion, his were used in relationship to others and offered a striking and memorable pattern.

    Who would have thought it possible to find beauty in the equipment room of a warehouse or the loading dock at a refinery? Vernon was glad to be known as a “good mechanic.”

    I don’t think it a shame he pre-dated the quest for creativity. Time spared him that burden. Basically, he was free to be extremely good at what he did and get paid for it. He was never without work. He was incapable of producing shoddy work.

    He did drink more beer than his wife wanted him to. It happens. I always enjoyed working with Vernon. As it turned out he was crtical to my education. Vernon taught me, without knowing it that sweat wasn’t a bad thing and beauty comes from caring about what you produce.

  3. Pingback: Over, under, or through | Gwen Hernandez

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