Even Picasso Had To Work For It

By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News

The world’s most brilliant, talented people see patterns others don’t.  When Picasso saw a face, for example, he didn’t see an oval, he saw a triangle, and when he painted what he saw, people were shocked.  Usually people like this can’t explain to us how they see things the way they do.  The images just come to them too quickly, too intuitively, for them to explain what’s happening.  But give them a brush, and they paint a masterpiece.

Fortunately, the Picassos of the world don’t have a monopoly on talent.  We’re all talented in one way or another.  For each of us, there is some aspect of life where we see or feel unique patterns that others don’t.  We might live our whole lives without finding that talent, or if we do, perhaps we let it go mislabeled or undeveloped.  But it’s still there.

For example, when I was a child just starting out on the piano, I loved playing music.  However, I didn’t like learning the standard names of the notes.  It seemed like an unnecessary step standing between me and the music.  I felt the rising and falling rhythms of the music instinctively, and I didn’t care if a particular note was called Do, Re or Mi.  This instinctive feel for patterns in the music didn’t sit well with my first few teachers, though.  They wanted me to spend less time feeling the music, and more time studying it.

So we all see or feel patterns.  Some of us feel patterns in music.  Others in numbers, or words, or colors, or even automobile engines.  The seeing of patterns is not some unique gift that only the super-talented have.  What puts them head-and-shoulders above the rest, though, is the hard work they put into it.  While others see only the end result, the brilliance of the final product, the super-talented see the years and years of hard work honing their unique skill before it could produce something the rest of us would call “brilliant”.

I don’t think the super-talented spend those years practicing their skills just because they want us to see the world the way they do, though.  I think they do what they do because it is the most natural thing they know, and they inherently enjoy doing it.  In other words, elite talent isn’t just the gift of insight.  It’s the character to not give up on that insight, even when no one else can see the pattern yet.  Most people give up too quickly, before their talent is recognized.

When you see a pattern, keep working it.  You might want to give up, to stop working on it, because the social reinforcement isn’t forthcoming yet.  Take my piano days, for example.  I didn’t really come into my own on the piano until my third teacher, who recognized I felt the music intuitively.  He let learning the official names of the notes slide, so I could go back to feeling the patterns.

I was really happy about this, but he knew something I didn’t.  He knew it wasn’t enough to just feel the patterns.  He knew I had to train my fingers how to produce them, and the only way to do that was to practice.  So he made me practice more than twice as much, far harder than any of the other teachers did.  It was tough and I didn’t always like it, but the training made me be a better player.

Whatever unique pattern you see, your ability to see it is a gift.  Making that gift really shine takes endless hours of practice and repetition.  Not just in art or science, but in business, too.  Before a talent for entrepreneurial business can fully mature, it has to be trained over and over, sometimes for years.  Even the best entrepreneurs sometimes undergo bankruptcy multiple times before finding success.  This is simply what it looks like as they learn the pattern, as they train their talent over and over again, until one day they make it work.

So no matter what kind of venture you undertake, have the patience to repeat the lessons over and over.  Especially when you are learning how to apply your own unique voice, the first time you try something, it isn’t going to work.  Don’t give up.  Keep doing it, over and over, and learn something new each time.  If you are going to build something unique, it’s going to take patience.  Even Picasso had to practice for years before he could produce a masterpiece.

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