I recently came across the TED Talk by Dr. Cal Newport saying , not only is social media not harmless, it is dangerous and addictive.
It’s something I’ve heard before, but Dr. Newport makes a few persuasive points. Perhaps the most persuasive point is that social media sites are designed to be addictive the way that casinos are, that having social media apps on our phones is like carrying little slot machines with us everywhere. He further argues that social media is not an essential technology (see the video for a full explanation), and we don’t need it to be successful or well known. He concludes that, for us to make the choice to use social media, we have to show a compelling reason that the benefit outweighs the harm.
Lately, we’ve been talking about growing greatness.
It seems to me that many folks imagine talent is something a person is born with. You’ve either got it or you don’t.
I disagree. It seems to me that most of what we perceive as talent is really the culmination of thousands of hours of practice and intense passion.
Perhaps there are some individuals who have a special kind of magic we mere mortals will never touch. If so, I expect those individuals are pretty rare. I also expect it would be pretty difficult to tell the “genius” from the person who put in enough dedication and time to achieving greatness.
Furthermore, maybe greatness isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. None of us have to be world-class to be good. The amount of time, effort and passion required to be world-class is tremendous, much more than many of us would want to commit. I would also venture to say that most of the individuals we admire in a particular field are closer to pretty good than world-class. And that’s good enough.
We’ve talked about how you need to talk to yourself, set goals and practice. Here are my last few ideas for growing your own greatness (or pretty goodness):
This is where I fall down. Frequently. There are only so many hours in the day, and we all have obligations. However fast or slow you progress is a matter of personal preference, but the amount of time you carve out will determine the speed of your progress.
Lately, I’ve reminded myself of this when I’m tempted to Netflix binge.
Recently, I read Richard Feynman‘s Six Easy Pieces and felt staggered. Not only was this man a brilliant physicist but also an extraordinary teacher. As he described the structure of matter and atomic processes, I could see what he was explaining. It was absolutely breathtaking, in a super nerdy* way.
When I was a kid, I went on a school field trip (an art museum, the Getty, the Huntington?) and saw a marble sculpture of Cleopatra sitting on a cushioned chair. The pillow she sat on was so exquisitely carved it looked as soft as velvet and down. I held my breath looking at it. I wanted to reach out and touch it. I held back but others did not, if the black smudge on one corner of the pillow was any indication. They must have felt just as I did.
I felt the same when I read James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. That stream of consciousness writing. I’d never read anything like it.
When we come across the work of a master in any field, we’re likely to stand in awe and think there’s no way I could do anything like this. This dude/chick is a genius.
Have you ever thought about how someone becomes talented?
Notice I didn’t say anything about being born talented. Sure, a few folks seem born with a considerable edge over the rest of us. But I’m convinced the majority of folks that seem wildly talented only seem that way because of the vast amounts of time, attention, and passion they’ve put into honing their craft, whatever it may be. Any one of us could be great at whatever we chose if we were willing to do the same. Continue reading “How to be Great at Anything”→