For most my life I have been plagued with the desire to be a master at something. And for most of my life I have felt like a complete failure. I used to hate it when someone would get this bright idea that it was time for a talent show. I would do anything I could to skip right out of that event, but there were times, mostly family reunions when some over energetic aunt would think it would be so cute to have all the kids do something for the whole group. Having been blessed with two left feet, fingers that had a mind of their own on the piano, a memory that always failed, and a voice that would sometimes hit the right note on accident, there wasn’t much to do but hide behind the other performers and hoped no one would notice.
So it came as a big surprised the other day when I realized that I had mastered something in my life. This huge revelation came to me as I read Malcolm Gladwell’s landmark book, Outliers. In the book he explained people like the Beatles and Bill Gates didn’t just come from nowhere. They had lucky breaks, talent, plus a whole bunch of time to learn whatever they were gifted in. Gladwell analyzed the facts and concluded that it takes 10,0000 hours of doing something to become quite good at it. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of hours, something that I could only dream about doing, especially with my current lifestyle. (EIGHT KIDS!)
But then I went on a trip to California to escape the nasty cold of Utah. While there I love meeting people and learning about different ways people live. Okay, I admit it I also enjoy being asked how many children I have because I just love people’s expressions. Their eyes get really large, they start choking, “Eight,” they stammer. So I add, “That doesn’t count the step-children. That would make it twelve.” The next thing they say is, “but you don’t old enough.” Which of course, I love hearing. Then more times than not, they say, “You don’t looked stress enough. You don’t look worn-out and don’t have bags under eyes. You seem like you are happy.”
I had always laughed that off, but then as I thought about Gladwell’s findings of the 10,000 hours I realized that I had put more than that into childrearing. I had started help raise my siblings since I was three. By the time I was ten, I was often left for eight to ten hours a day to watch the other seven children. My siblings would often call me, “Mom.” I have put my time in big time. I only had a year and half of my life where I wasn’t watching children so it’s no wonder that having eight kids isn’t as stressful for me as it would be for others. (I am going to make the exception of teenagers here. I am real good with the younger kids. The teenager thing I don’t have the 10,000 hours and I am not sure that I want to.)
I wonder how many of us have an unseen talent or mastery in something that we don’t realize and give ourselves credit for? I think if we looked at what others are amazed at in us we can discover our master skills. I would love to hear what you are really good.