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The   Myth of Talent

by Robin Griggs Wood

formerly the RGW Arcanum Master introduction

Did you believe it when they told you you had no talent; that being an artist was only for the "gifted"? Did you know they lied to you?

Find out about the "Myth of Talent" in this Arcanum introduction to Robin Griggs Wood. 


Originally published as a written article over 13 years ago. Since that time many more articles, books and videos have appeared on the Internet by many authors. If the influence was mine, I cannot say, but I am content to know that so many are willing to embrace the concept that you do not have to have some unattainable "gift" to gain mastery in the art  you feel or want.

If you want it, it's yours.

Take it!

The myth of "talent".


I have often had people, when I tell them I am an artist, look at me with a sort of awestruck reverence––that is completely misplaced.

Everyone is an artist inside. Some have just worked at it harder than others and it shows. There isn't a single thing that I do that cannot be learned, practiced and achieved to great success by anyone (barring physical limitations). So, if you have ever told yourself that you have no talent, or that you could never be as good as someone else you admire, let's just call a halt to that kind of thinking right now. I can guarantee that, if you still believe that others have some god-given gift that you don't have, you will never be an artist. But, it is the only thing that will stand in your way.

90% of the deterrent that is keeping you from being the artist you wish to be is your consideration that you cannot be. Toss that away and you only have a short distance to your target.

"So, Robin––if there is no such thing as "talent", why does everyone think there is?"
(Yes, I can hear the voices in your head, muhwahaha! … ;o))

There is an ilk of people out there who just don't want to see others grow any bigger than themselves. In fact, they would rather make others feel quite less by perpetuating an idea that fosters the notion that "they can" and "you can't" with statements like "ability is in the DNA!" "it's from the 'supreme being'!" or other limiting concepts. Even the term "gifted" itself connotes that an individual's works are "given" to them and not a result of their own effort––their own labor, sweat and tears! 

Now, it is not that there aren't predispositions, but limiters do not have to be absolute. As well, others may believe these ideas about talent because, quite frankly, they can't do it––not right now at least––and so the idea sticks, because it is true right now. And, so, these other folks, who have been told they "can't do" (for seemingly immutable reasons) then spread the idea. It is like a contagion; like a disease. Ideas are the most dangerous things we create. 

(*By the way … Critics––the bad ones––often fall into the category of not wanting to see others grow bigger than themselves.)

It is common to hear, in the news or elsewhere, someone going on about an individual who was an "overnight success". But, you all know that isn't true, right? Much of what is taken as talent is really just a conglomeration of education and persistence––and lots and lots of hard work! 

The "overnight success" is someone who has been doing the technique of their art over and over again until it becomes second nature to them. Those individuals were only "discovered" after they attained the level of ability, to such a well-practiced degree, that they were finally able to express the ideas they had well enough for people to actually "hear" them. It is a bit like going to a foreign country––once you learn the language, people pay the proper attention to you because you can communicate to them. The tools of art are only components of a language. And art itself is nothing but a communication.


Revealing Your Vision

part 1

by Robin Griggs Wood


Do you have a vision for your life?


What is it?


Do you actually know?

What is "vision"––you know, when we're not talking about something which might involve your optometrist?

The definition of "vision" I'm talking about is:

"The ability to visualize, think about or plan the future."


So, back to: Do you know what your vision is?


If you don't, I can at least tell you what your vision was yesterday, a month ago, a year ago.




 → You're sitting in it right now.


Yep, that's right.


The course, direction, circumstance of your life, as it is right this very minute, is the vision you've been working on. It's the one you've been holding in your mind and it's manifesting itself today.


Do you want to change that?


Here's the how-to. 

First, think about what you want to have or do.


Next, write out a list with those aspirations on it leaving enough space on the side of each to write the obstacles preventing you from getting them. Those items next to your goals will be anything that is not contributing to, or is destroying, what you want to have in life. Include all the things that are stealing your attention, making you angry, sad, nervous or distracted. Include in the first column on the list the things you would be doing "if only __". Include all the "if only"s at the side of each of those, too. Be honest and be as thorough as you can.


As you are writing out your list, notice that everything that you've written to the side of your goals is what you are putting your focus on instead of your goals. Those things are your current "vision" for your life; they are what you are thinking about instead of the vision you really want.


It should be easier to see your vision for your life now, once you weed out the stuff that isn't part of your vision.


The cool thing is, every one of those things you wrote on the side of your goals is an actionable item.

You can actually do something about each one of them. Once you do the actionable item, you don't need to have your focus on it anymore.

Some of them you can even toss away completely! Things like too much web-surfing, horrifying news stories, TV or games that don't contribute to your vision.

(If one of those things you want to toss away is your mother-in-law, you're going to have to be clever about it, though … ;o7)


Don't think that all the FUN is going to go out of your life when you get rid of things that aren't contributing to your vision, just be sure to include "Enjoy life" on your list ... :o))




If you're interested in finding out more about procrastination (or finding out why you are not actually "lazy" when people call you that): check out Part 2 below ...


NOTE: Originally published in 2014. Comments included. Download here → 

Some of the comments are interesting, and they inspired "Revealing Your Vision - Part 2; perhaps you'll find one of the commenters who shares your thoughts, frustrations or insight.

1 Revealing Your Vision
2 Revealing Your Vision

Revealing Your Vision

part 2

by Robin Griggs Wood

When I first wrote "Revealing Your Vision" - part 1, some interesting ideas were brought up in the comments and I felt I should address those in a new post, because I think many more people could benefit from the concepts. To read through those comments, download here: 


Being Paralyzed or Being Lazy


You know this one; you're stuck. Nothing has changed in ages and it's the same old problems staying put or repeating themselves over and over. There are times it feels as if you are completely paralyzed by all the problems. You can't seem to overcome them. 


You would rather play video games, watch TV, or surf the Internet for interesting memes and diverting conversation then try to tackle those problems yet again! Sometimes, you are told by others (or yourself) that you are just being lazy because you're not getting a handle on your life. Oh, that one bites hard!


Why does being told you are lazy bite so hard? Why does it make you feel so miserable?

Because it's not the truth! (We humans become very uncomfortable around untruths.)

That term "laziness" is about 95% inaccurate (and my observation feels that it is closer to 100%). Much of laziness is actually "overwhelm" (and is the same overwhelm that is behind the feeling of being "paralyzed" described above).


This is an overwhelming world we live in. Having an overload of problems to overcome creates inaction because, well, where does one start? The "lazy" label gets used too much and––this one is key––it is the wrong answer because it doesn't resolve the situation. Accurately perceived solutions, when implemented, solve problems and make them go away. Inaccurately perceived "solutions" actually cannot be implemented, so they don't make the problem go away and, what is worse, they divert one's attention from the possibility of finding the real solution. Once you slap a label on it, it's a done deal, right? ("Oh, I know your problem … you're just being lazy!" … but if you accept that as the "solution" why doesn't it make you want to get up off your butt and solve everything at once? Because it's not the right answer.)


"Overwhelm" is the right answer, if you feel "paralyzed" by your problems, think you are lazy or just feel "stuck" in your life.


Solving Overwhelm


What is "overwhelm"?

Metaphorically speaking, you're underneath a pile of rocks so high that you can't move.

Would you call a guy who is underneath a pile of rocks "lazy" for not bursting out of it in an instant? No, you wouldn't … ;o7


One solution for overwhelm is the list-writing I covered in "Revealing Your Vision" - part 1. Because the antidote to the inaction brought about by overwhelm is action. Even the tiniest bit of action starts to break the hold that overwhelm has upon you. Writing out a list as described in the post is actually a first action. The interesting thing about feeling "paralyzed" is, by it's very nature, it is a "no motion" thing. No motion is no action and list-writing is an action that starts to unburden you, allowing you to compartmentalize all the stuff that is stuck (no motion) and helps you see some of the things that you can "unstick" right now. If you are terribly overwhelmed, pick things on the list in the column next to your goals that are the easiest ones to do first. The cool thing about that is, you will be starting to create some motion at least. And a bit of motion has the potential to beget more motion––simply because your load is starting to lighten.


Motion is the natural force of life. And, it is so effective, that it is actually a great tool for many things. At one point in my life, I suffered from debilitating depression. A friend of mine passed along something that was passed along to her. When depressed, force yourself to jump out of bed the second you wake up in the morning, then move through your morning routine as fast as you can. I looked like an idiot brushing my teeth like I was in the dental Olympics … ;oD ... but it worked like a charm to get me through each day. I recognize that this may not work for everyone, yet it still is a fair example of the potential motion has as a tool to kickstart one's life.


Your Vision


"Ah, c'mon Robin, I read your post, but isn't that 'vision' thing just some airy-fairy, metaphysical crap that 'positive thinkers' dole out like useless candy all the time?!"


Well, having one's "vision" manifesting itself today is actually how we humans are wired.

Case in point, how many times have you made a mistake working at something because you didn't have your full attention on it? We create what we have our attention on and, conversely, don't create well what we don't have our attention on. It is no different for the greater, long term goals we have in our lives.


One of the points brought up in the discussion was about "knowing" that a specific goal was unachievable because it was impossible. And that brings one right back to being "stuck". Being "absolutely certain" that you cannot attain a specific goal is, more often than not, what being "stuck" looks like.

Don't make your Goals "THINGS"


When you are writing out your list of goals, it important to know that one's primary goals should not be THINGS. One's primary goals for a life vision should be based on standards (convictions, morals, precepts, etc.) and the circumstances surrounding those.

For example: Joe may write "have Amy as a my girlfriend" as one of his "goals" in the main column. He now has the potential to be completely thwarted in that goal, because of the "impossibility" factor. If Amy doesn't happen to have him as one of her goals, Joe is "stuck" again. However, if Joe were to take a good look at the aspects of Amy that make him want her, he is now getting closer to the mark. He is now basing his vision for what he wants in life on his standards. He may like blonds, he may like sexy, nice and friendly women, qualities Amy possesses. But as he starts to look further at this goal, based on his standards alone, he may also find that he wants a companion that wants him. A characteristic that Amy may not possess. The cool thing about this is, once Joe starts basing this life goal on standards instead of a specific person, possibilities show themselves that may never have occurred to him. Perhaps someone better walks into his life because his focus was directed at his overall standards, and not narrowed by looking at a singular person.


So, getting the new Porsche you want is not actually a "goal" on your list -- "not having a new Porsche" could be one of those things that you write to the side of your actual goal (not having it could be a barrier). But, there may be other barriers to your actual goal as well, and you have to get rid of all of them. Phrase your goal based on your standards, for example "To be able to get anywhere in a vehicle that is comfortable, fast, beautiful and safe." (Or something like that … you get to figure out the wording … ;o7) And, maybe, a Porsche doesn't really answer your goal after all, maybe something else does. "Things" are secondary goals and, when you maintain your focus on your primary goal, you may find some of those things aren't what you wanted after all.


Once you align your life vision with your own standards, it makes it possible for you to see more options, alternatives and other courses of action beyond the attainment of a singular "thing".


One's "vision" for their life is actually so much broader than most people conceive. It's composed primarily of overall standards and rarely things.


Remain true to your standards alone and it has the potential to unlock creative solutions that you may never have considered.


Why does being told you are lazy bite so hard?


Why does it make you feel so miserable?


All content at this site is protected by international copyright law. Use without permission is illegal and will result in legal procedures against transgressors. All articles and images (where indicated) are the property of Robin Griggs Wood and may not be used wholly or in part without the prior written permission, including copying, duplicating, manipulating, printing, publishing, reproducing, storing, or transmitting by any means.

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