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Nature. Nurture.


The Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers suggests that to become world-class at anything you have to put in 10,000 hours of practice. But according to Businessinsider.com, Gladwell has had to further explain this rule suggesting that ". . . practice isn't a sufficient condition for success — natural ability requires a huge investment of time to be made manifest. . ."

I just want to understand/get to the bottom of all this nature or nurture — and have started discussions with my husband about creative talent and the "aha" moment — as we have both witnessed it in the fields in which we have worked. There's a moment when you finally realize that someone simply "has it,” whatever that "it" is, and no amount of time, practice or energy can close the gap between the natural vs. those who learned. We all have to prepare and train — but some of us can go just that much further because of our inborn gifts.

Like most, I have met "naturals" in my life — people who clearly have innate ability that is as ordinary as breathing. Dancers, artists, speakers or leaders that seem to do what they do effortlessly and with emotion. As parents, we were constantly challenged to help our children find interests that they liked and could excel at — but looking back I don't know what came first: liking the activity so you got good at it or being so naturally good that, of course, you would like it.

Ironically, despite a suburban locale we were never a soccer or dance household. In fact, we had a particularly tall four-year old whose lack of grace in that one summer dance class was, as the teacher suggested, due to our child working with her long limbs. That's where nature caught her up short. So she tried East Meadow Baseball and mastered her running, catching and batting instead.

Finally, can natural talent be delayed? That is, can DNA hold off displaying aptitude up to two generations later? My mother, proud parent that she is, is convinced this is the case for my brother, a musician.

Professionally trained in his art, my sibling had the skill and discipline to master his instrument, preparing for many musical performances throughout his younger days.

"But where did ‘it’ come from?" I asked.

Mom always reminded me that she believed the origins came from my maternal grandmother, a woman who never had a chance to discover if she had any musical ability, but passionately loved classical music, particularly opera, all the same.

So, maybe it isn't just nature or just nurture. Maybe it's the love of the game too.

A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, LIU Post and SUNY Old Westbury.