Sunday, December 09, 2007

Expert Dabbler

Since I started my own business close to a year ago, I have wanted to play to my strengths, and I've been doing a lot of thinking about what my strengths are. I recently finished reading Sir Ken Robinson's book, "Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative." One of the things that stood out for me in the book is that he said great artists aren't great by birth. In addition to their considerable talents, they have achieved technical mastery of their medium, after a considerable amount of blood, sweat, and tears. I have always been afraid to commit myself completely to any endeavor, from a fear of learning what my limitations are. I can see of course that this has to change in order for me to grow into the best me I can be. So I've been trying to figure out what my medium is. Some people are exceptionally lucky to find their medium at an early age and to never look back. Robinson tells an anecdote about Leonard Bernstein touching a piano for the first time when he was about 8 years old and just being immediately transformed by it. Some people slog through an entire lifetime doing what they think they ought to be doing, while their medium is waiting for them, just hanging out off to one side. So what is it that I do better than anything else? I have concluded that what I do best is dabble. Here is an almost complete list in no particular order of what I have "shown promise" doing:
  • Writing
  • Stage Acting
  • Foreign Language (acquisition and imitation)
  • Teaching
  • Competitive Horseback Riding
  • Storytelling
  • Building (birdhouses, PCs, etc.)
  • Drawing
  • Sculpting
  • Computer Programming
  • Dreaming (literally, dreams while I sleep)
  • Juggling
  • Dancing
  • Performing Music
  • Driving
  • Video Editing
  • Money Management
  • Cooking
  • Parenting
I feel truly blessed with these aptitudes, but at the same time, I am paralyzed with indecision about what to do with myself. I am growing up to the point of realizing that my lack of focus has held me back. Now that I want to be focused, it's harder than it's ever been because my responsibilities keep growing. I don't mind the responsibility, but oh what I would give to play the piano ten hours a day for a year in a country where nobody speaks English! The serious question for me right now is if somehow dabbling itself is my medium. If I can figure out how to take advantage of this, the sky is the limit.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Hey Zach,

One of my friends was very relieved last year to read an article on "Scanners" -- people who have a broad range of interest, and often enjoy gaining mastery more than having it. Here's the article he linked to that kind of turned him on to the idea: