I have been reading a lot lately and have come across the concept that skills lead to passion, not necessarily the other way around. Meaning you work on your skills and if you get really good at one of them, you will become passionate about it.
In order to do that, you have to try a number of skills on for size. You have to dip your toe in countless lakes. You have to take a chance on learning something that you haven’t tried before.
But the question we ask our kids once they start high school is, “What you are going to focus on?” In Time Enough For Love, author Robert A. Heinlein said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
We can do a lot of things as humans, but we often focus early and quickly and then don’t get a chance to delve into the other things that might be a perfect fit for us. Of course if you have found your path, you want to learn more about it because you are passionate. But maybe we are too quick to get into our lane at the beginning. And often creativity comes from connecting the dots in different lanes. Which happened when Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class and decided computers needed fonts.
Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, said he thought that learning how to observe through the arts is invaluable. He said, “This is why it is so frustrating that funding for arts programs in schools has been decimated. And those cuts stem from a fundamental misconception that art classes are about learning how to draw. In fact, they are about learning to see.”
Trying new things changes our brain and we can’t go back. We see things differently and that is how we grow. Are we willing to allow our youth to take the time they need to find out what they love to do? Are we willing to give that chance to ourselves?