Almost every talented and successful person can remember their introduction to whatever it was that became their thing. In Mastery, Robert Greene explores countless examples of this beautiful process by which some of the world’s most notable experts discovered their “life’s task.” He talks about Martha Graham’s first time watching a dance performance, for example, and he tells the story of the compass that Albert Einstein’s father gave him as a present when he was five years old:
“Instantly, the boy was transfixed by the needle, which changed direction as the compass moved about. The idea that there was some kind of magnetic force that operated on this needle, invisible to the eyes, touched him to the core.”
At the core of most of these stories are a few key ingredients: Luck. Openness. Curiosity. And of course, often, a parent who actively exposed their kid to different things. For every Tiger Woods, who had golf more or less forced on him from birth, there is an Albert Einstein whose life was changed by a simple gift—a thought from a father who said, “Hey, maybe they would like this” or “Hey, this might be fun.”
It’s your child’s job to figure out what they want to do in life. No parent can or should make their child master anything. But it is your job, especially when they’re young, to open their eyes. To introduce serendipity into the equation, to expose them to all the possibilities that life has to offer. Show them how things are figureoutable. Show them what’s out there. Help them discover.
You’ll change them…and you may just change the whole world in the process.