howto become talented

Hypothesis: talent is compound interest on a lot of hard work and learning from constant FAIL.

Procedure: Pick something you demonstrably suck at but love anyway. Do it for 10 years. See what happens.

Note: I have not successfully accomplished this yet - or... have I? Maybe. Sort of. The notion of being a social being engaged in a community and collaborating with people would have been such a weird thing for me to even imagine as a shy little junior high nerd outcast. And now it's pretty much my life. Going from "abysmal" to "more than adequate" is not bad, in my book - and I've worked at it, a lot - with informal miniprojects like "let's try this type of backchannel" or "okay, I'm going to try to pay attention to this group conversation for 5 consecutive minutes." (then 10. then 15, etc - you do get better at following lipreading bouncing across the room with deliberate practice.)

howto rewire a reaction

Hypothesis: you can.


  1. Notice the reaction that you have.
  2. Think about the one you'd like to have.
  3. Practice that reaction. Yes, in isolation, for no apparent reason. Yes, it will look stupid. Do it anyway.
  4. When your first reaction gets triggered, let it run, then immediately follow up with the reaction that you'd like to have. (You won't catch it all the time at first. That's fine. Try anyway. You will eventually.)
  5. Great. Now try to interrupt your first reaction. Not with the one you'd like to have - with nothing. Ideally, you'll get "....pause... correct-reaction."
  6. Now make the pause shorter and shorter.
  7. Now take the pause away.

It helps to get friends to deliberately trigger you through steps 4-7; you learn faster that way. You do have to tell them to wait for the full progression. ("When I flinch, keep going until I relax.")

Result: I can, more or less, do hugs now. Nikki, Andrew, feel free to test next time you see me; it's been getting better for a while. Other experiments are still in the pipeline.