The summer before my sixth grade year, I got to meet with the band teacher to try out instruments. I was so excited, and imagined how great it would be. I thought the horn or the trombone might be a good fit for me, but I got there, and was discouraged from the horn because so many other students had chosen that instrument. We tried the trombone, and he showed me the spit valve. I was super grossed out. We tried the flute, and I naturally got a beautiful sound to come out. The teacher praised me for my natural gifts, and encouraged me to go with the flute.
Flattery is hard to evade I suppose. I chose the flute.
I was very pleased, as I went to group practices, that I was better at it than all of my peers. In fact, I was better than most of my peers through eighth grade.
Here is where the problem came in. I never practiced. I wasn’t persistent about it. I wasn’t especially passionate about it. I just liked being successful at something. Around ninth grade, an interesting phenomenon happened. I was assigned to be a second flute player, and there were many better musicians around me. They actually practiced. They created good habits as they continued through school. They loved what they were doing.
This is me and a couple friends on a high school band/choir trip.
I learned a valuable lesson. Hard work, persistence, passion, and good habits always win out over natural abilities. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, or what kind of natural gifts you have, if you never do anything about it.
It’s something that I learned pretty early on in life, but I still have to continually remind myself. It’s one of those things that I know logically, but don’t always put the concept into action as well as I should.
I want it to be something my children understand as well, so I look for opportunities to praise them for their work, or on their persistence when something is difficult for them.
I never did become a master floutist, but I did learn a valuable lesson, so I am grateful. As I work through my business, most of the skills required are abilities that I have not been naturally gifted with. It’s hard for me, but as I am persistent, I become better at it. I have gotten really good at skills that I never thought I would be able to do. I often surprise myself at what I can accomplish. My personal development has skyrocketed since becoming an independent business owner. It is a wonderful feeling to be good at something after a lot of work to get there. Talent is lovely to have, but it is not as important as it is made out to be.
So I’d like to hear from you!
What kind of lessons did you learn at a young age that have helped you throughout your life? What kind of skills have you gained through hard work, rather than natural abilities?
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