Perhaps I Can Do What I Thought I Couldn’t.Posted: September 26, 2011
Some time ago, I read a blog post that exposed a flaw in how I think.
Actually, that last sentence exposes a flaw in how I write. I am not aware of any websites devoted specifically to my personal mental health or patterns of thought. What I read was actually about the writer’s first experience creating an artistic piece of blown glass. Reading it made me think about the way I look at the world.
As I read about the author taking on the task of learning the art of glass blowing, it occurred to me that I see people do things like that and think “that is amazing, I could never do that.” I translate thoughts like that one in my mind as if people are born with those skills in place.
I know that people learn from other people. If you asked me where glass blowers come from, I’d tell you they learn from people skilled in that art. Deep down in my psyche lives a part of me that thinks some people are just born able to do some things.
Babies Don’t Know As Much As I Give Them Credit For
That part of my psyche convinces itself that there are some babies who see long tubes and blobs of hot glass and instinctively know what to do with it. These babies grow up to be artists in that medium. It would never occur to me to learn to do blown glass, I was not one of those babies. Those other babies got that gig.
That isn’t the case though, is it? People take an interest and find someone who can help them follow the interest.
When interest turns to skill, it is easy for the person possessing that skill to minimize it. At the same time, others who observe that skill come to believe it is an innate gift – something they could never possess.
Trying Something Different
I have a specialized assignment at work. I am a hostage negotiator. After twenty-three years of working in that field, I have begun to allow myself to say I am very good at it.
I was not born that way. I did not, while still in diapers, instinctively find my way to bridges and hold conversations with suicidal people. I learned my specialty from capable people and I worked hard to become adept at it. Education and effort paid off. I am very good at what I do.
Still, it amazes me to talk to people who I know to be incredibly bright who say “I could never do what you do”. I know better. Yes, you could. The funny thing is that, though I’d insist I could teach you what I do, I’d probably be as insistent that I couldn’t do what you do. How is that fair?
I’m going to start doing myself a favor. I’m hoping you’ll join me in doing the same thing. I’m going to stop denying my ability to learn things and get to finding people who will teach me what I want to know how to do.
What do we have to lose by doing that? We’re sure not gaining anything by sitting back in awe of the rest of the world.
Maybe you were one of those babies and you don’t know it.
I think I was.