Becoming Your Own Prodigy

Becoming Your Own Prodigy

Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash


Becoming Your Own Prodigy

Recently, I was thinking about prodigies and exactly what factors contribute to the making of these extraordinary individuals.  Fully engaged and complete with my preconceived notions and ideas, I begin my research in order to quench my curiosity. 

You may have noticed that I began this blogpost with a photo of a violin. This was no mere coincidence. The violin was the first instrument I ever picked up only to play it for less than a year and then have it gather dust in the closet before giving it away. Since abandoning it, I’ve always had a strong desire to learn how to play it again. Perhaps there are clues to the phenomena of prodigies that some of us old timers ( hey, who are you calling old? ), ahem, I meant to say youth-deprived, might be able to benefit from.

While reading up on the subject, I realized that this may fall in line with all the talk about longevity studies of recent years. It seems we’re all looking for ways to further our capabilities, as well as surviving long into the future, in order to live our lives to the fullest. I suppose when it comes to child prodigies, a little reverse engineering is taking place. They come out of the gate charging and pushing past arbitrary boundaries without giving it much concern.


 Where you find prodigies, you also find such things as elevated general intelligence, exceptional attention to detail, and most often than not, a great amount of parental involvement. The parent or parents are there to stoke the fire and lend the support needed in the child’s quest for mastery. The fire I speak of seems to be inherent in the child, almost built-in and just waiting for that external spark to catch it. Above and beyond these factors, something a little more scientific seems to be a common denominator. That thing happens to be superior working memory. 

It seems that the bigger the working memory the better. In studies conducted by Joanne Ruthsatz and Ellen Winner, music prodigies scored the highest in working memory among all other prodigies in art and mathematics.

When I think of music prodigies, I gravitate to the legendary musician, songwriter and producer, Stevie Wonder. Born Stevland Hardaway Morris and blind since infancy, it’s amazing to think that he was signed as a recording artist by Motown Records at the tender age of 11. He went on to win 25 Grammies, sell over 100 million records and be a major influence in the music industry as a whole. He has also credited his parents for playing a crucial role in his success due to their unwavering support.

                 Photo source : Wikipedia 

So at least we know now that working memory, attention to detail and kind, steadfast support can help us all awaken the prodigies in us all. Training your working memory and attention capacity is all possible at any age. I was reminded of  this when reading Steven Kotler’s book “Gnar Country - Growing Old, Staying Rad” where he takes a deeper dive into this science by learning the young man’s sport of park skiing at the age of 52.

It’s true that support also plays a huge role as well but it’s also true that that support can come from within. I think we can learn to be our very own best cheerleaders when others might not be close by or busy juggling their own lives. I’m positive that we can all flex our collective memory muscles if and when the occasion calls for it, so why not create the occasion sooner rather than later? All this talk about achieving a goal such as learning a new instrument, foreign language or new art techniques has me quite energized, how about you? What’s something you’ve always wanted to pick up and learn, enough so that you’ll give it a go? Please tell me in the comments.

Cheers and Best Wishes!


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