In an effort to have more fuel for my thinking, part of my 2019 goals have been to make better use of the services that my public library has to offer. I have really been enjoying browsing the stacks and also reading more books through the Libby App which offers ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines. I just finished reading Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! And I am kind of obsessed with his style and way of thinking. I only wish that I had read this book 5 years ago. Here are 3 BIG IDEAS that I gleaned from this must read and why I think you should share this with gifted kids.
1. Be An Amateur
One of the big pressures that gifted kids often feel is having to live up to being a genius. For many of them, they are told that they are smart, but they never really develop an understanding of what that means. As they grow older, many develop an imposter syndrome and fear that someone is going to discover that maybe they are not a genius after all. Austin Kleon advises that “You Don’t Have To Be A Genius”. Instead, he suggests that we “Be An Amateur”. In French the word means “lover”. Amateurs may lack formal training but they do possess a LOVE for pursuing the work regardless of fame, fortune, or career. Instead there is just an interest in learning more. We should strive to never lose sight of the love of doing what we are doing.
2. Share Something Small Everyday
The importance of sharing can never be underestimated. For many of our gifted kids, they only see the success. They are there for all of the hard work and hardship that leads up to the moment of success. Austin Kleon says, “Overnight success is a myth. Dig into almost every overnight success story and you’ll find about a decade’s worth of hard work and perseverance.”
Instead, of just focusing on the end product, we should strive to document and share the process. Kleon advises, “Find one little piece of your process that you can share.” This is sort of what I was trying to do with the photo a day challenge that I have started for myself.
It started because I wanted to get a better idea of what types of memories that I was creating for myself and where I was spending my time. After reading Show Your Work, I have decided to focus less on the memorable moment aspect and focus more on documenting the “here is what I am thinking and doing” today.
For many of our gifted kids, the thinking is not visible. Instead, it rests inside of their heads. By encouraging them to share something small everyday, then we can better glimpse what is going on and see how things progress over time.
By saying that it is something small, it takes a lot of pressure off. It does not have to be a completed blog post or even a new presentation. It could be a sketch of an idea. It does not have to be perfect. Austin Kleon also advises “Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.” Work means work. Not to worry, there will still be time for #CarpetDiem but there has to be more.
3. Banish Vampires / Identify Your Fellow Knuckleballers
While there are a lot of different kinds of people in the world, Austin Kleon identifies two that resonated with me. The first should be avoided at all costs, and the second should be cherished.
The first are the vampires. These are people or even things that suck the ever-loving life out of you where you leave the interaction feeling completely drained, nervous, and exhausted. Life is too short and too precious to waste anytime with vampires. Quite simply, identify the vampires in your life and banish them from your life forever. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that vampires can be cured. They can’t. So, stop trying.
Instead, invest your time in identifying your fellow knuckleballers.
Austin Kleon tell the story of baseball pitcher R. A. Dickey who is known for his pitch the knuckleball — a slow, awkward pitch that is difficult to throw with consistency and even more difficult to hit. Kleon calls them the “ugly ducklings of baseball” because there are so few of them and yet they have this tremendous amount of potential. In a lot of ways, our gifted kids are knuckleballers and form this special club.
“As you put yourself and your work out there, you will run into your fellow knuckleballers. These are your real peers — the people who share your obsessions, the people who share a similiar mission to your own, the people with whom you share a mutual respect. There will only be a handful or so of them, but they are so important. Do what you can to nurture your relationship with these people. Sing their praises to the universe. Invite them to collaborate. Show them work before you show anybody else. Call them on the phone and share your secrets. Keep them as close as you can.”
Here’s to not only finding your fellow knuckleballers but also to being a knuckleballer. Go do something simply for the love of doing it.