Wait! You can’t get it at the department store? I’m disillusioned!
How do we define “talent” and when is that term used?
Definition of talent
1a: a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude
b: general intelligence or mental power: ABILITY
2: the natural endowments of a person
5: (archaic) a characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal
Thank you Merriam Webster.
When you watch Eddie Van Halen play guitar, you will hear him described as extremely talented. When you look at Michaelangelo’s work, you will gasp at his grasp of the human form, an amazing artistic talent. When you ask Einstein anything, you don’t think talent, you think genius. When you watch someone do anything that is beyond the ordinary in the physical world…fine arts, or sports, we call them talented. When you see the results of mental ability beyond the ordinary, we classify it as an expression of genius. They’re the same thing.
Why is that important? I’ve been told that I am a talented musician. I am not in an orchestra or in the opera. I can, however, play Bach’s Prelude in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier in any key you want. But I think many musicians cringe at that term because it seems to discount the amount of work it takes to get to any level of mastery.
I know plenty of musicians in orchestras that cannot play anything without the sheet music. They are technically brilliant, but not exactly talented. Of the 165 musicians that graduated in my class, only 5 could play by ear. Many music teachers won’t work with students that play by ear because the students learn the song by hearing it, and may not hear it the way it is written. So NOT ALL MUSICIANS ARE TALENTED. They put in a lot of work. People tend to equate skill and talent. Do they do that in intellectual fields too?
If someone has multiple degrees in many different fields, are they talented at learning? Or are they geniuses? What are your thoughts? Can a learning process that allows people to acquire knowledge in multiple areas be learned? Does knowledge in one discipline translate to another discipline? People that can make that transition from one subject to another and almost instantly “know” what pertains and what doesn’t are considered intuitive. How much intuition do geniuses display?
So let’s examine intuition. This should be interesting. Picture your brain as an electrical machine.
All your thoughts, insights, memories, and powers of logic work like sparks in your mind. Somehow, your mind is able to retrieve whatever information it needs at the time it needs it. For instance: how does my brain know where all the letters on my keyboard are and tell each finger when and where to push to get the words I want while simultaneously allowing my eyes to see misspellings and mistakes in grammar and my conscious mind to think what the next word is supposed to be? It’s A MIRACLE! It is also simultaneously processing the fact that my husband is typing on his work computer, the mailman is on his way up the hill, and the speed of the wind because it buzzes my siding at 25 mph.
What is intuition then?
a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference
b: immediate apprehension or cognition
c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
That means that presented with a set of circumstances, a person with a high degree of intuition can immediately understand the situation without “apparently” figuring things out. A person with talent in music can figure out the chord progressions, the beat, and the melodic or harmonic notes that can be played as improvisation. A person without talent would have to see the progression, chart out the available notes, compose a solo and learn it by practicing. The talented musician makes use of his intuition to project what is coming up in the accompaniment and adjust his improvisation accordingly.
Someone that gets on the elevator with his boss and who then can give a short synopsis of the project he’s working on without writing it out and reciting it is using his intuition to figure out what the boss needs to be told and in how much detail.
Someone that is sitting on a train and upon going past a train in the opposite direction comes up with a theory of relativity has used his intuitive power to see the connection between time and space.
What is happening is that the connections in the mind from one thing to a completely different thing are bouncing around near the boundary between the conscious and subconscious mind in such a way that there is an instant recognition of the relationships between these things.
How do you increase the size of this opening between conscious and subconscious?
Nope, it’s PLAYING! If you want to learn how to improvise on a musical instrument, you just play and make LOTS of mistakes. You pick up what sounds good and what doesn’t. You find out what your fingers can do, and what they need to rework. You find out how to make what you hear in your head come out of your fingers. You experiment.
You want to learn how to skateboard? You’re going to break a lot of bones.
You want to do perfect diving? You’re going to do lots of belly flops.
You want to write the Great American Novel? You’ll write the Grate American Novel 1st that will make you cringe to read.
You want to be a genius? Read a lot and ask lots of questions! Flunk a lot of tests. You’re probably backing off now. You think that you have to be born a genius. I do not believe you do. If you develop your intuition, expand your awareness, and become facile in the art of interaction between the conscious and subconscious, you get more sparks flying. Originally, the Intelligence Quotient compared your apparent mental age to your actual age. What should a 5-year-old know? What does THIS 5-year-old know? If the 5-year-old knows stuff that 8-year-olds know, then 8/5 x 100 gives you 160 IQ. To maintain that 160 IQ, what would his apparent mental age have to be when he’s 10? 16. What would it have to be if he was 30? 48. What is the difference between what a 48-year-old person and a 30-year-old know? Yeah. Hard to figure that out. They don’t have knowledge standards for every age, do they?
You develop your talent/intuition by playing and having fun. Do Sudoku puzzles. Kick a soccer ball around. Pick up a different instrument. Read some philosphy. Write a poem. Consider the origins of the Universe. Make those sparks Fly!