Raw belief, raw talent

Bloggers have a habit of seeing something in life and trying to draw parallels with the world of work, or whatever topic they choose to blog about. I know, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, bought the t-shirt company. I’m going to try to avoid that. But being half cut on Night Nurse and paracetamol, who knows….anything could happen.

Last year, after final school reports, I was walking with my daughter in the Ardeche. She had done really well that year, but maths remained an issue for her. Half confidence, half ability. She struggled to perform to the level of her natural intellectual ability. We were hiking a particularly arduous 12 mile route and to keep her mind off the hills, we talked about school and subjects and basically anything to prevent the “are we there yet” syndrome kicking in.

When we got to maths, she was, as usual, self-effacing, honest and humble. “I just don’t understand it” she told me. ¬†“You can understand anything”, I replied rather tritely. “I bet by this time next year, if you really want to, you can be on the top table”. She looked at me and said, “I can’t. I’m not good enough”.

“I can’t do it for you” I replied, “but if you really want it, if you think you can, if you tried hard and if I help you, you will.”

The conversation continued and fast forward 7 months and I am sat in the classroom with her teacher. We start talking about maths and she tells me how she has seen an incredible improvement in my daughter. From being in the bottom group, she is now in the second to top. She explains that she is out performing her ability, because of her desire to learn, to do well and to succeed. “It is truly incredible” she tells me.

So what happened? Well, some of it is about the right moment. Some of it is about the right support. Some of it is about maturity. But as my daughter said to me this evening, “well we said that was what was going to happen”. Some of it was about having a vision of success and the sense of belief that comes from other people sharing that vision. ¬†There was no intellectual or physical reason why she could not achieve this, but there was a psychological block.

Would I have spent the same amount of time and effort with one of my team? With an employee? Probably not and this is a salutary lesson that I need to reflect on a little more. If we are set on getting people to perform to their potential, sometimes that goes beyond training, sometimes it goes beyond structures and job profiles. And it definitely goes beyond the nonsense that is talked about the war for talent, talent communities, talent pipelining etc. etc.

Most of the time, the raw talent is sat just in front of you. With a little bit of personal investment, a bit of belief and, of course, with the right support and instruction. Well, most things are possible. You just need to approach it with the passion and dedication that you would with someone you love.

Time consuming? Yes. A waste of time? No.

And I’ll leave the last word to my daughter, “Well, I’m pleased…….but I’m not on the top table yet. But I have another four months to go…..and I will be there. Because I can.”

UPDATE: The results are in and she has gained four levels this year, from being one behind target to three above. Now that, my friends, is DATA.