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These days people marvel at kids who write great computer programs at the age of 15. In bygone eras it was musical prodigies who wrote great music at that age, who were granted that special awe. Perhaps we should be awed by the dedication required for getting in the 10,000 hours of work thought necessary to master such things by such an early age. Most people spend those 10,000 hours learning a mix of all of the other skills needed to become a successful adult. The terrific specialized skills may be bought at a heavy price of not developing more common but useful skills.

If for some reason, probably an inexplicable reason, a kid doesn’t feel accepted by his local group, there is a drive to find some other way to gain prestige and acceptance, even superiority over his peers. Developing a phenomenal skill may fulfill this purpose. If they have a natural ability for mathematical subjects then it is relatively easy for them to lock onto math or programing or music as a way to prove their self-worth. If they get a little support early on they can go to develop new and useful things which are of benefit to all humanity.

Most of these types of social failing don’t end up with spectacular music, or computer programs, but there may be a hundred or more other remarkable skills which are un-praised by their peers or the media, but which developed out of the same personal developmental needs. If observed carefully, it might prove the case that nearly all remarkable people had a period in their adolescence when they cultivated an ability to compensate for what they perceived as a personal failing.

With that in mind as a possibility, it would seem appropriate for people who interact with adolescents to watch carefully for those who might be caught in some similar personal dilemma. These kids might be given just a little support at just the right time to really help them to do something remarkable. The kids themselves might not have enough worldly experience to know what they should be turning their latent talents towards, but a worldly-wise person might know just what they need.

I wish I had had a bit of positive guidance in my youth.

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