Self-Direction is the Key to Mastery

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Creative by Nature

malcolm x

What do Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh, Maya Angelou, Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Lennon, Steve Jobs, Jimi Hendrix, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Malcolm X have in common? What’s shared by all of them- and key for many who we call “gifted” or “genius”– is that their learning was highly self-motivated and self-directed.

They didn’t develop their skills in schools, and much of what they learned did not come directly from teachers. Yet they were students and learners, who learned by imitation and absorption from talented people who went before them, then applied themselves tirelessly to what motivated and interested them.

Bob Dylan was obsessed with folk songs and the music of Woody Guthrie, listening to his records endlessly and imitating his style. The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning educated herself by reading literature and studying Shakespeare on her own.

Einstein was bored and frustrated in school but studied…

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