Myth #1: You Should Only Focus on Your Strengths

Topic A: Life-long learning and broadening your passions

It’s easy to believe that some people are destined for greatness. We see our peers doing better in us in the same class. Occasionally there is the story of the four-year old concert pianist. Maybe we stroke our insecurities by telling ourselves these people were “better fit” and that we perhaps were “born stupid”. However, these explanations are often a disservice to the tremendous amount of work individuals have put in that take place behind the scenes. The truth is that even those who are predisposed to a better advantage (whether through genes or social upbringing) still have to work hard to become successful.

If people should only focus on their strengths then Julia Child should have never become a culinary inspiration, because she did not learn French cooking until age 30.

If people should only focus on their strengths, then Vincent Van Gogh should have never have pursued painting, because he did not paint until he was 27.

So what happened?

Instead of dismissing these challenges, these people and other late bloomers cultivated their craft so that it became their passion. They did not blindly follow the false notion that we are destined for only one passion based off what we like or our current strengths. If anything, it is because of this myth that so many people spend so much time wondering what they are best at rather than putting in the effort to learn and broaden their experiences.

When you learn something new, your brain changes. The neurons in your brain rewire, creating new synaptic connections where there were none, and strengthening others through repeated actions. It happens when you are learning music and it happens when you are learning a new language.

Learning is not only for children. The adult brain is also capable of change.

This means that you are literally capable of learning anything at any age if you give it the right amount of attention, understanding, and practice.

The world is a diverse place and it could use people have broad experiences and perspectives. Find something you find fulfilling and own it.

Julia Child would approve.

Image from http://woldfitness.com/2013/10/cest-magnifique-some-books-on-french-cooking-you-should-check-out/

References:

The Passion Trap: How the Search for your life’s Work is Making You Miserable at calnewport.com/blog/2010/10/16/the-passion-trap-how-the-search-for-your-lifes-work-is-making-your-working-life-miserable/

Learning rewires the brain at https://student.societyforscience.org/article/learning-rewires-brain

Neuroplasticity in Second Language Learning at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010945214001543

Adult Brains Can Still Change at http://www.livescience.com/1840-adult-brain-change.html

Neuroscience of Music- How Music Enhances Learning Through Neuroplasticity at http://neurosciencenews.com/neuroscience-music-enchances-learning-neuroplasticity/

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