How A High School Kid Got NASA’s Attention

I am often amazed at how extraordinary talent can suddenly appear. A short while ago I was listening to Science Friday on NPR and they were interviewing a New Mexico high school student Erika DeBenedictis who had just won the 2010 Intel science prize of $100K.

She had designed a way to have space ships travel to remote parts of our solar system at very low cost. This could be useful in unmanned space travel but also a way to send heavy equipment to a location and then connect with a manned flight. It wasn’t just her contribution that got my attention, it was the way she was able to express herself in the interview and her vision for her future. She was already imagining graduating from a top university and then having a career in a commercial space business like astro-mining. (A logical application of her science breakthrough.)

The Talent Code

This got me thinking about the roots of talent and how we can help people of any age reach a really big extraordinary goal.

I highly recommend the book, “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” by Daniel Coyle. Coyle has done a great job of researching why pockets of great talent suddenly emerge. Think Dominican Republic baseball players, Russian tennis superstars, chess prodigies.

Coyle has linked his talent research to Brain research and the discovery that the right kind of practice creates a super talent by forming myelin in the brain. The really great news is we can all grow myelin at any age. It’s not going to make a 40 year old a super star at gymnastics but you can become much more talented at a chosen skill if you can stay focused and practice.

Are you an ambitious knowledge worker or executive? Wouldn’t you like to know which of the talents you have, that with practice, could make you a superstar? Why not explore where your talents are in the corporate world?

You can see a video of Erika here.

Three Things to Do Next

1.  Comment: Do you think some people are born with talent or that it is a learned skill?

2.  Share: If you liked this post share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Blog or Site

3.  Brainstorm: Have you had a talent you want to work on but keep putting off.  Set up some time this week to get working on it again.  Keep yourself accountable to someone else.

image courtesy of darci1b