I listen to a podcast called The High Performance Podcast on a regular basis. Most of the time it's while I am walking the dog, so I usually get through the full hour episodes as they roll out. They are of course uplifting, and deconstruct the habits of some of the top world performers in sport, business, music etc..
The one episode that resonated with me lately was with the guest Chrissie Wellington. I hadn't heard of her before this episode and what a story! A great listen for everyone. She didn't have an extraordinary upbringing and participated in swimming growing up. I will keep this to a minimum here, because if you do want to check her out, I don't want to spoil the whole thing. What she did do, with no aspirations to do so prior to getting on a bicycle when she was 28 years old, was become a 4 time World Champion in the sport of Triathlon....Ironman distance no less! To put this in some perspective...there are world class triathletes that train their entire lives to become competitive and she decided on a whim to throw her hat in the ring, compete, and beat them all...consistently.
The message that she conveyed later was that people need to try. Try different things. Don't assume that you know you will or will not like something, but jump in and give whatever it is a whirl. You may find out that you have a real knack for whatever said thing is. I don't want to paint the picture that she was able to just jump in and go with no effort. She certainly discusses the amount of gruelling work she put in (I've learned the key to most of the high performance individual's habits are that every one of them acknowledges that you need to put in the work.). What she does say though is that she did have a natural talent for this sport and had absolutely no idea that she possessed it.
Can you imagine if Bach or Mozart were never tempted to touch a piano? What if Gretzky's family didn't give him a hockey stick to try out in the back yard? The initial, seemingly small act of handing someone an instrument, inviting them out to play volleyball, join them at a chess club or a cooking class...whatever it is....that act may be the first introduction to the world of the next champion in that activity. The odds are, that won't be the case; however, maybe the person introduced has a natural talent, puts in the work and just enjoys it. Maybe then that person passes their passion on to the next soul that jumps in and they become inspired to continue. There is a real chance, and great odds that this will indeed have a ripple effect. That person will meet others, will exchange experiences, will give back to society in some form or another just by participating.
The lesson that I loved from that podcast episode was that a 4 time world champion in arguably one of the more gruelling self disciplined sports in the world wasn't pedalling her sport (see what I did there)...she has just asked that we try new opportunities when they appear.
My parents always said "Try it...you might like it". Well sorry Mom and Dad, I will never become the fishcake eating champion of the world; but I am getting better at guitar, so good thing I gave that a try.