15 June 2024

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

The Tamworth Country Music Festival lights up the city each year and I'm always an interested observer. The Peel St buskers are always a highlight, where the young - and not so young - live out their music dreams in front of appreciative crowds. Among the buskers there's always many youthful performers, still in school you would imagine.

Some of these young people are really good, but some are not quite as talented, although I applaud their passion and courage for giving it a go. I thought of these young buskers when I was reading an article recently that focused on the scientific theories of psychologist and author Adam Grant, who believes "success is less a matter of natural talent and more about nurturing [a child's] hidden potential".

He says he's seen many examples of people who when they were young were considered to have no natural ability where a particular task or skill was concerned, but with the right opportunities and motivation through life, went on "to exceed their own and other people's expectations".

A willingness to put in the work and to really care about the task at hand are also major contributors to success.

It's such an important message, particularly for our young people looking to make their own mark on the world. It's too easy to give something up when you don't think you have the 'talent' for it, or put that same expectation onto other people in our lives.

However, those who seemingly have to work harder to achieve the desired result, Adam Grant says, also build up a greater resilience through their journey, than those for whom something may come more naturally. That resilience, he says, will stand you in better stead down the track, and in this rapidly-changing world is there any better quality to have?

Prof Grant says one of the best ways to foster a young person's potential is to connect them with a mentor, who believes in the child and their eventual success, and who they trust. Namely someone they respect, and who is anyone other than a parent. I love this idea of a mentor being introduced into a child's or teenager's life, who can encourage rather than judge, and advise more than lecture, helping steer a course towards their goals and dreams.

Particularly for kids in rural and regional areas, this kind of outside guidance and assistance can be so important.

Finally, I also loved Prof Grant's final observation around the two things that matter more than how and when your child will show signs of success. These are adaptability, and equifinality, the concept that there are multiple routes to the same end.

Maybe the only thing you have to do for sure to be successful, is be open to multiple ways of achieving success," Prof Grant says. An important nugget of wisdom, wherever we are on the road of life.

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