Talent Runs in a Family—You are Talented, Too
Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to reach your goals, let alone your dreams? As we discussed last week, you could be playing an old family role that holds you back without even knowing it!
I encountered this sort of block in the first creativity workshop I ever taught. Bill was a top notch journalist who wanted to become a fiction writer. He already wrote for a living, so you’d think it would be easy for him to write fiction, but it wasn’t. He struggled. The words just wouldn’t come. The cause of the problem eluded me until the day we talked about the impact of family roles on our lives.
You know,” Bill said, clearing his throat, “My brother was always the artist in the family.” He paused for a moment, and glanced down at the notebook in his lap. “My brother is amazing, or he used to be amazing. He died of AIDS.” Bill looked back up at me. “While he was alive he wrote several plays; they were really good. He was an equally gifted painter and costume and set designer. He was one of the creators of the Pee Wee’s Playhouse TV show. Music and composing may have been his greatest artistic forms. He was a piano prodigy. I’m definitely not an artist compared to him.”
Typically we believe that if one person in a family is talented, then, by simple subtraction, the other one isn’t. But the truth is that talent runs in a family. All the kids tend to be artistic to some degree, just in different ways.
Bill’s brother wasn’t even alive anymore, but that didn’t stop Bill from feeling like he didn’t measure up artistically. That’s how powerful these old family roles are! The good news is that the experience of breaking through these old roles is equally, if not more, powerful.
Bill needed to consider the fact that he was an artist, too, although his talents might lie in different directions. I suggested that he make a sign for himself with the simple statement “I am a writer,” and place it on his computer so he would see it every morning before he began writing. He agreed to give it a try. Within a couple of weeks, Bill started writing and couldn’t stop. He’s been on fire ever since, writing short stories and poems, especially many of the haiku form.
“That sign freed me from always being second to my brother,” he told me. “I finally saw that I am an artist, too; I am a writer.” He straightened his shoulders and smiled. “And I’m lovin’ every minute of it!”
That one small step—making that simple sign—changed Bill’s life. He went on to sketch and paint, take clay workshops with Coeleen Kiebert, a ceramist in Santa Cruz, and live in Japan where he worked in a potter’s studio. He wrote a book about the Japanese arts, and out of necessity, took photos for it. Today he’s a crack photographer, and one of the most multi-talented artists I know.
Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because you thought someone else is “better” at it than you? Regardless of whether it’s solving math problems or drawing in your sketch pad, chances are you can do it, too, just in your own way. Maybe you have a knack for geometry rather than calculus; or you like to draw figures instead of landscapes. You have your own special way of doing things, and it will shine through once you give it a try.
What are you keeping yourself from doing just because you think someone else is superior? If you were to create a sign for yourself, what would it say? Why not make one today?
Mine says, “I am an author and a blogger.” What does yours say? You’re more talented than you think.
In his nature photography Bill captures both the big picture (Mt. Shasta) and the small details. https://billssite.shutterfly.com