Basic Steps for Becoming An Adult Prodigy

People justifiably heap praises on child prodigies but the fact is adult prodigies are certainly more impressive. This is because they are well past what are known as the “learning windows.” Despite this fact, these adult prodigies acquire high-performing and amazing skill sets.

Take the case of Dr. Mary Hobson. Mary studied Russian when she was 56 and she went on to bag an award for being the best Russian translator of her times. Another example is that of Gary Marcus who was a neuroscientist and who learned to play guitar when he was 38. He self-learned to become a rocker. Michael Reddick a.k.a. Dan McLaughlin took to golf when he was in his thirties and is now playing to a 3.3 handicap. 

These examples show that adults can find their hidden talents and become super-performers in their chosen skills. New researches are throwing light on the reasons for the success of these adult prodigies. According to one of the findings, these adults are able to surmount the two main barriers for acquiring their skills. 

The first barrier is they have been conditioned to believe that they will not be able to do it. The second one is adult routines will not allow them to spend as much time as necessary for improving their skills. The inference of these research findings clearly reveals that the barriers are not about the “natural talents” of adults but about their mindset, habits, etc.

According to one of the most popular cognitive scientists, Ed Cooke, “A child’s sole occupation is learning to speak and move around. If an adult had that kind of time to spend on attentive learning, I’d be very disappointed if they didn’t do a good job.”

This means there are some basic steps adopting which adults can become prodigies. Let us have a look. 

1. Choose a skill that has always been fascinating you. You should be nurturing a desire to pursue it. In other words, it should have all the ingredients to grow into a passion.

2. Never choose insane ideas. For example, don't imagine that you will become the next Bill Gates or Michael Johnson. Focus on achievable skills that may add value and that are sensible.

3. Have a plan, not necessarily an elaborate one. But the plan should consist of a few targets as well as strategies. Split the plan into daily, routine chores. Never fail to stick to the routine. After some time, you will know if it works. You can adapt it as it is or make a few changes to it as you move along.

4. Never be conscientious about the plan you have made. Children are able to learn fast because there is an inherent looseness in their approach. They do not aim to be 100% perfect. On the other hand, they try one task and if they do not succeed, they do something else. They constantly keep experimenting and innovating. That is the reason an expert called children as "entrepreneurs of the brain."

5. Never proclaim to the world that you are in the process of acquiring some new skills. People are out there to demotivate you.

6. Be secretly arrogant though this may sound irrational. This may help you get over your fear. You will not be afraid of taking certain actions though others may think that you are foolish. This secret arrogance will help you ignore what others think about you.

7. Practice consistently and every day. Even if you get 5, 10 or 20 minutes, you can practice the required skills. Of course, if you can practice for longer sessions, it is all the more good. But practice intensely with a laser-like focus.

8. Interleaving your practice will help you learn fast. To quote an example, if you want to perfect your serve in tennis and are trying to improve on your toss, do not toss 50 or 100 balls continuously. Focus on one single element of your move and toss 5 balls. Focus on something else during the next 5 minutes. Return to tossing again but your focus should be on another element of your move. If you keep interleaving like this, your brain will be able to make quick connections and you can learn faster.

9. Finding a very good teacher and joining a group of people who are also trying to acquire the skills you are also practicing can help you keep your momentum in tact. But you must constantly assess your problem areas and fix them. If you occasionally stay away from the group, it will be easy for you to make an assessment and fix the problem areas.

10. Have the best tools for practicing. Some people have a wrong notion that they need not have high quality tools for practicing. 

11. Practice during the early mornings because those hours are called "golden hours."

Above all, you must have a competitive spirit. There may be hurdles along the way but with a positive attitude, you can surmount them. 


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