TED Conversations

Simon Caira

Personal Coach, Peak Performance Techniques

This conversation is closed.

If it's true that our gifts, passions and identity were educated out of us as we grew up, how can we reclaim and rekindle these gifts?

Sir Ken Robinson asks that we be mindful of the 'really extraordinary capacities that children have - their capacities for innovation,' and he contends, 'All kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.'

He says, 'We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it.'

He believes - and I tend to agree - that 'many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized.'

Have you been steered away from your true talents in order to follow a more conventional route to success? Or was it your sense of identity that was in some way challenged and even squandered?

Sir Ken believes that a child's ability to take a chance, to not be frightened of being wrong, is lost by the time they become adults. If this is true I guess it's fair to say there are a lot of us running around with limiting core beliefs that inherently hold us back from our originality and creativity. Beliefs like: I'm frightened to make mistakes, or, I'm scared to be wrong.

Identity statements and beliefs govern our thoughts, behaviors, actions and outcomes. I wonder if you agree that you had your identity, creativity and talents educated out of you and what can be done to rekindle the fire of lost passions and to rebuild those latent talents, qualities and abilities?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 20 2013: I think the more common scenario is that children have potential in lots of areas, both those in academic subjects, creative writing, art/music, languages, and sports that are part of almost every school, and areas that are less commonly included in schools, like mechanical applications or cooking or sewing. As students go through school they do work in a whole range of areas but ultimately tend to focus on one or two, not continuing to develop themselves in the others. It's a strategy of specializing in a couple of things rather than remaining superficially connected to many.

    In some cases they may choose to develop themselves in areas where they really shine or that seem most promising in terms of job opportunities. These are not always their favorite areas. For example, a kid's favorite subject may be drama but he knows there is very little professional opportunity in that area and so decides he would rather prepare himself in engineering because work in that area seems more satisfying than waiting tables or working white sales while going to auditions that pan out only for the very few.

    I am impressed by how many people down the line pick up some of the other interests that really captivate them alongside whatever else they are doing. I have known teachers who play amateur sports, doctors who quilt, professors who play guitar or drum with a band, realtors who paint, and sales associates who are museum docents.

    I think realizing one can pursue a secondary interest on the side, picking up those activities even having ignored them for a decade or more is typically quite feasible. Sometimes it needs to be a less time consuming variant. For example, it would be hard to be two things full time at the same time.

    Relatedly, Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way claims that too many people think they can't write a book unless they quit their day jobs. She argues they can make a commitment to do both and that the experiences of life and work enrich the writing project.
    • thumb
      Nov 20 2013: Hi Fritzie. Thanks for your input. I would have benefitted greatly by classes in things like DIY, Basic Car Maintenance, Cooking, Sewing, Nutrition. We can dream. And that's a nice thought from Julia Cameraon and I agree that outside of the workplace it's healthy in so many ways to be involved with something you are passionate about to enrich your life. With regard to Sir Ken Robinson's fears, is it possible that we have so many limitations in our own self-belief that sitting down to write a book is something most people would never even attempt because not only have they got time restrictions, they also don't have that internal belief that they'd have something worthwhile to offer?
      • thumb
        Nov 20 2013: Simon,
        Do you think/feel we genuinely have "so many limitations"? Or is that something we may have been taught to accept? Perhaps you answered the question....."in our own self-belief"? It may be something one believes about him/herself that is not true?
        • thumb
          Dec 3 2013: Hi Colleen,
          I guess it's fair to say that I believe we have been taught to accept so many limitations. I hold a great vision of potential in every human being and also in our communities.What interests me is how we can break free from limitations. It's been on my mind for a couple of decades now. I believe that our identity beliefs and statements are temporary and are worth checking to see if they support a vision of who you'd like to be and how you'd like to experience your life. For me, one of the most important factors is that our identity beliefs run so much of our thoughts, actions and behaviors that they are like little engines, driving us towards, or away from, situations and outcomes based on who we believe we are and what we deem to be true about ourselves, our lives and the world we live in and experience. Invest in your identity beliefs. If you'd care to read http://simoncaira.blogspot.co.uk/
      • thumb
        Nov 20 2013: I am old enough that we did take such courses at school - required courses in cooking and sewing.. Nutrition is typically offered now, I think, in secondary school. My high school son is doing such a unit right now. And the last secondary school at which I taught had an auto shop on the grounds for high school students to take auto shop. It must depend where you go to school.

        I do think people make evaluation of which possible undertakings they would be good enough at to succeed and which not and tend to pursue those that offer them a greater chance of a rewarding experience. What people undertake depends in part how successful they feel they would need to be to call it a worthwhile use of time. Would they be happy to have spent the time were their work never published other than self-published? For some, the answer is yes and for others no.

        I would guess there are more hobby writers and hobby artists than at any time in history, particularly with the ease with which anyone can blog and in art, the various resources and communities of practice on the internet. Nanowrimo is going on right now for people who would like to take a crack at writing a novel and need a community to help them stay on course.

        There are great DIY sites also. You might enjoy the TED talk by Dale Dougherty, the originator of Make magazine. And here is a comical TED talk by a Canadian orofessor about what keeps people from pursuing their interests: http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_why_you_will_fail_to_have_a_great_career.html

        The best book I have encountered on the subject for someone who wants to break through is Steven Pressfield's War of Art. He coined the term Resistance to capture the common barrier within people that keeps them from moving forward.
      • thumb
        Dec 3 2013: Hi Simon,
        I agree that we have sometimes been taught to accept limitations. I also "hold a great vision of potential in every human being and also in our communities."

        You write...."What interests me is how we can break free from limitations."

        How about starting by recognizing limitations? That is the first step in my perception. If we are aware of certain limitations, why would we want to hold onto them?

        I totally agree, as you say, our identity beliefs and statements may be temporary and are worth checking to see if they support our chosen life goals. Sometimes, people blindly hold onto beliefs and practices that may not adequately support their life goals. Once we recognize that, there is a possibility for change.

        Do our identity beliefs run our thoughts, actions and behaviors? Or do our thoughts, actions and behaviors influence our beliefs? Perhaps both?".

        I observe that when people accept certain beliefs as their own, the thoughts, actions and behaviors usually serve to reinforce those beliefs.

        When we may be seeking to change beliefs, or reconnect with qualities that we may think/feel were "educated out of us", we can change the thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviors into something which may support a new, or reconnected belief.

        Changing our thinking, may change our feelings, which may contribute to changing our life experience:>)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.