Go Back to School to Upgrade and Enjoy your Talents

by Lisa Rothstein on 06/25/2010

back-to-school-999248_960_720-labelled-for-reuseSchool’s out for summer – but for someone with neglected talents they want to pursue and enjoy, summer may be the perfect time to go “Back to school” and let those skills come out to play. The pace at many day jobs tends to slow down as colleagues and bosses go on vacation, and the office is empty just a bit earlier on Fridays. Work often dwindles for self-employed people in the summer months too. Instead of fretting, why not devote that extra time to one of your favorite talents?

Take a class

Summer’s a great time to take a class to upgrade or dust off your talents, or simply to remind yourself how much you love them. Remember the joy of sitting at the feet of a mentor, perhaps in college or in a sport you loved as a kid? It’s possible to recapture that right now. Many colleges offer summer courses for adults. Or why not look up a teacher you’ve always wanted to work with and see if he or she is giving a workshop or retreat over the summer?

If not, you can always do what they used to call “independent study” back at Brown, and create your own curriculum. Pick your most appealling talent du jour and collect a bunch of books, either from your own stacks at home (we’ve all got ‘em – admit it, many of them have never been cracked), from the library or splurge and buy some on Amazon. Go shopping for “school supplies”. Carve out study time in your schedule, and practice time when you’ll actually do what you’re studying. Perhaps set a goal for the summer; so many poems written, for example, or to sketch or photograph every major landmark in your local city and create an album. If you’re a screenwriter, you could: gather DVDs of movies in your favorite genre, pick up a few good books on the craft of screenwriting, read screenplays online or order some from Planet Megamall, treat yourself to every movie that comes out (good luck finding good ones during the summer, though – maybe stick to those DVDs), and get going on that beat sheet or even tackle a first draft. Best of all, unlike in college, there’s no one you have to impress so they’ll award you a good grade!

Teach a class

It’s said that we teach what we most need to learn. But when it comes to reconnecting with and enjoying our talents, teaching is just plain fun. Pick something you love doing that you would love to share with others. Then tell your friends to spread the word, run an ad on Craigslist or start a group at Meetup.com. Decide how long your course will be and what will comprise the lessons. It could be a casual series of one-offs, or a month-long affair where you meet once a week. You can do it for free, or charge for your lessons.

When I lived in Paris, a friend who worked at a US government-run agency saw me painting a watercolor in the park for fun, and asked me if I would teach a class. I still considered myself a beginner, and I had never taught before. But she was insistent, and I saw that just knowing a little more than my students (as it turned out, a LOT more) was enough to qualify me to turn them on to the joys of watercolor painting. We met in their offices to paint still lifes when it was raining, and journeyed out into the world’s most beautiful city on fine days. My students got a welcome break from the tedium of their bureaucratic jobs, and I was paid handsomely by Uncle Sam for the privilege of doing something I would have happily done for free.

I want to emphasize something you may have skipped over. I wasn’t a teacher, and I didn’t think I was good enough at my talent to teach it to others. I was wrong – you only have to be a little better than the people you will be teaching for them to get huge value. It’s like the saying — in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And the truth is, like many multi-talented people you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit. The fact that something is easy for you does not make it less valuable; in fact, the opposite is true. Don’t let your own self-deprecation deprive you of the joy –and maybe the income – of teaching, or deprive others who would love to learn from you of your expertise.

Will you learn new things as well? Well, since you learn and grow whenever you practice a talent you love (that’s why “practice makes perfect”), the answer is: of course!

  • Activity: Choose one of your talents you’d love to spend more time on this summer.
    Decide if you will take a class or teach one. If taking, check out course catalogs for summer classes or make a curriculum for a self-study as outlined above.
  • If teaching, think of friends who have expressed interest in your talent and ask them if they’d like to learn from you, and if they know anyone else who would, too. If you’re ambitious and enjoy meeting new people, look for ways to advertise online or in local newspapers. Or post it right here on Davincdilemma.com – you may find your pupils right here!

What would you love to learn or teach this summer related to your talents? Share it here.

If you’d like to share or publish this article, you may, if you include the author’s name, a link to this original post and the following text blurb:

Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The Da Vinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/.

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