Thursday, 30 April 2015

Good at following instructions

Everyone has a natural talent, right?  Almost everyone you know has one thing they can do super well with seemingly zero effort.  Or many, similar things with consistently good results.  My husband can cook like no one else I know, he can taste every ingredient in his cooking and know just when something is missing.  My dad can make up stories all day long.  Most are so convincing that even my family has trouble telling fact from fiction.

I've spent a lot of time wondering what my best talent is.  I feel that I have a lot of things I’m good at, like teaching in a way the student understands, but that doesn’t come effortlessly.  I have to work with someone one-on-one to get a feel for their learning style before I can figure out what will help them learn.  I am not so good with a larger group because I don’t know what I can do to help everyone at the same time.  This is probably less of a talent and more of an empathy strength applied to everyday life.

I have an active imagination, which most people see emerge as creativity, but that doesn’t seem like a talent to me, that's just how I think.

I’m good at fine motor skill tasks that most crafts involve, have a natural athletic ability, can remember silly little details like postal codes of houses I lived in as a child, and excel at logic puzzles.  But none of those are really TALENTS.
My favourite Archie gag
After really looking at all the things I do well, and the things I don't do well, I think I've figured out where my true talent lies; I’m exceedingly good at following instructions.  I can read things and get the theory down pat usually.  Often, I can then replicate a task within 3 tries, with going back to the instructions and figuring out what went wrong, then applying my changes.  Some things I need someone to show me how it’s done first, then I can try the task and usually get it on the first try, and am able to add in my own modifications on the second try.  I guess this could fall under a quick learner label, but I think it’s just that I’m good at following instructions.
I can bake, sew, knit, cross stitch, change oil in my car, tile the bathroom, or navigate my way anywhere so long as I have instructions.  It’s when I’m left to wing it that I have trouble.

It sounds like I'm downplaying my abilities, I know.  On the surface, it seems as though I'm saying "I'm not actually good at making things, I just follow instructions well", which is true.  But, on a deeper level, my talent is understanding what I'm being told.  I can decipher directions that often leave others confused, and can translate them to the item I'm working on.

The more I think about it, the more  I can apply that to other aspects of my life.  Why do I do so well at Geometry but absolutely suck at Calculus?  Because I understand the rules of geometry.  If you have a triangle, all angles must add up to 180, the opposite side of any angle is 90-x, etc.  I can follow directions to figure those out.  But Calculus?  I can find the first derivative and then... stuck.  Or in English class, I was good at essays.  They followed a three paragraph formula.  Nomenclature in Chemistry, binomial naming in biology, nearly everything in geography, all have patterns and rules to follow making it easy for me.  

So, I'm not talented at sewing, but I'm talented at learning how to sew better and applying that knowledge, which looks the same.  Asking me to draft a pattern based on a RTW garment you saw in a store will not work.  I haven't learned to pattern draft yet, and without the garment in front of me to measure I have no idea what I'm doing.  Supply me with a pattern for a similar garment and I'll make it up with no problems.

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