Thursday, May 27, 2010

Aspiration for my son

Being a parent of a young boy, every now and then I would be asked for what career I hope my son will have in future. Cuz, from most parents’ point of view, you need to customize some kinds of specific training program to bring your kid up, so that he/she will become what you ‘plan’ him/her to be. Well, to be honest, I’ve no such aspiration or ‘plan’ to make my son to be in any specific career in future. Therefore, I don’t really have any plan to bring him up in any specific way.

As I blogged before, I believe that character of a person is largely set from birth. Certain twits here and there will make a difference. So, I believe that there is still 50-50 chance that I can tilt him to take 90 degree turn from his inborn direction of development. At this stage, I don’t have a very clear picture of what his inborn profile is, much less the direction I want him to tilt towards to. Don’t get me wrong that I don’t know my son at all, I do see some clear signs of certain characteristics about my son that are good as well as troubling. Nevertheless, whatever that I can tilt would only be at micro level, without a clear broader picture of his whole inborn profile, I don’t believe my effort would have the best effect as it can be. What I mean about the inborn profile is what kinds of interest he has, what things that he has trouble with or naturally dislike. Cuz, kids do change, they may not like certain things this month, they will demonstrate 180 degree change in the next. So, I’m still watching and learning.

I don’t believe a whole lot the concept of genius. Yes, genius exists, like Mozart, but they are extremely rare. At least, I think my son is no genius. On the contrary, I believe that talents or skills of most successful people are coming from a combination of factors. Some of them are environmental, but the key one would be the personal effort in practice and continuous improvement. So I buy what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book ‘Outliers’ that the rule of 10,000 hours of hard practice can cultivate talents. It does make a difference between a high school band and the Beatles.

So, what I will do now is to expose my son to different things, let he knows what the world can offer, and see what he will filter and pick up as a result. Simply trying to give him a decent and joyful bring up, I’m sure he will decide what he wants to be when he is ready. I don’t know it is true or not, but there are my beliefs now about the skill development of a person:
- You won’t be successful in things that you don’t like.
- You will work your ass off for things that you like.
- As a result of your time and effort spent on doing the things that you like, you will be good at it. Duration and level of hardworking practice is proportional to the talent and skill level that will be attained.
- Skills and talents are developed the best by primarily individual motivation with secondary environmental support.
- It will be great to have one outstanding talent, it will be better and fortunate to have more than one, but it is extremely rare that can be done. Cuz, there is only one Leonardo DeVicci known to the world so far. Warren Buffet is known for investing, Eric Clapton is known for his guitar skill, Jamie Oliver is known for his cooking skill. I would not doubt that they have second talent, but they are just not widely known or admired.
- One outstanding talent should be good enough to make a decent living, but to be extremely rich or influential, that would take a lot of karma which can be controlled or managed by the same individual.
- A great talent is usually cultivated by a combination of personal characters. Unless that talent is extremely unique and unfortunately would be replaceable, like fixing typewriter, those personal characters should be able to adapt the changing environment somehow to adjust and morph to fit in.

I don’t know if I sound to Zen about my beliefs above, I just think that you can’t know grow a coconut tree from an orange seed. What I can do is to water and fertilize the soil, and just let the plant to grow healthily and happily. If I end up eating oranges, not coconut, at least the oranges would be sweet and juicy. That’s the view I have at this stage of my life as a parent.

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