Developing Talents: Easier or Harder With Time?

So I’m the type of person who’s always working on something, right? Pretty much I can guarantee that on any given day, if you ask me what I’m working on as far as goals or hobbies or skills go, I will have a ready answer for you.

That’s just how I am.

But something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is this—does it get easier or harder with time to pick up new hobbies or develop talents?

The reason why it’s been on my mind is that I am constantly around teenagers–not only do I teach 7th graders for a job, but I also hang out with teenagers during the week and on Sundays as part of my church responsibilities.

In other words, I’m around youth A LOT.

And in my time around them, I’ve noticed that most young people:

*are eager to try new things
*are influenced heavily by what their peers and/or the adults in their life deem “important” or “worthy”
*pick up on new skills relatively quickly, especially those having to do with technology
*are curious about many different things (and are willing to put time into exploring those different things, as long as they’re interested in them anyway)
*have a hard time pushing through when the going gets tough (unless there is an external force–like a teacher or a parent–pushing on them to continue)
*are not overly concerned about failing—they are usually more concerned with solving the problem or exploring different possibilities

Now, I realize there are exceptions to these, of course, but like I said, from my experience, these characteristics are what I’ve generally noticed about young people (aged 17 and below).

I don’t know what it is about age and experience, but there are some traits that tend to accompany most (or at least many) adults as they get older.

I’ve found that most adults:

*tend to resist change and usually crave routine (same food for breakfast every morning, same pew at church every Sunday, same type of t.v. show…)
*are not as influenced by what others deem “important” or “worthy” when it comes to choosing skills or hobbies to develop (in other words, they tend to gravitate towards what naturally interests them instead of wasting time on what doesn’t)
*tend to pick up on brand-new things at a much slower pace than what a kid would need (especially having to do with technology)
*are curious about some things, but often would rather spend time doing traditional “productive” work like cleaning or answering emails than exploring new things
*have an easier time pushing through the difficult moments when learning something new without needing external reinforcement all the time (or even some of the time)
*are terrified of failing, even at the expense of leaving a problem unsolved or a possibility unexplored

So, in summation, I’ve found that most adults tend to have the perseverance and discipline of routine on their side, but they’ve lost the thrill of exploring and are crippled by their fear of failing. Most kids crave exploration and newness and are willing to fail and then pick themselves back up again, but they often lack the discipline to see something through until the very end and/or the discipline to develop a routine to regularly work on that skill.

So who should it be easier for when it comes to developing talents—adults or kids?

I know for me, I was pushed constantly as a kid (in a positive way) toward developing skills and working on my talents. It is because I had dedicated parents and teachers that I am able to play the piano, carry a tune, write well, and bake cookies and bread. I often wonder if I would have learned those skills as well as I have had I not had someone pushing me constantly to improve myself.

However, as an adult, I’ve also gained new skills: I’ve improved my photography drastically, I’ve become a runner, and I’ve really learned how to cook just about anything I put my mind to. But have I been able to develop those things as fast as I could as a kid? Or have I developed them FASTER because I have more discipline now?

It’s something I’m still puzzling over.

What do you think? Is it harder or easier for you as an adult to develop talents and learn new skills?

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