Juan regained consciousness.
He found himself lying face first on the shore of a deserted beach on the Caribbean northeast of what is now known as Panama. Scattered up and down the beach were treasures he’d collected during his explorations. A hurricane had literally blown his dreams of fame and fortune from bringing the treasures back to Spain to smithereens. Now his dreams had shifted to salvation.
Blazing a Trail
Juan’s only hope was to get to the Pacific coast where, if lucky, he might encounter a ship. He knew the coast was somewhere across the land he had washed up on, and he knew that land was very dangerous. But he had no other choice.
Every day Juan would venture in, trying to blaze a trail to the other coast. And every night he would return to his hardscrabble beach camp bloody, ridden with bug bites, and exhausted.
Progress was so slow it was nearly imperceptible, but it was progress. He doggedly beat down a wider, flatter path through the unrelenting jungle and managed to venture a bit further each day.
And finally, after nearly a year of struggle, Juan broke through to the Pacific coast.
He made it!
But nobody was there to rescue him.
Back and Forth
With nothing else to do but wait, Juan trekked back and forth along his path, hauling whatever treasures he could muster from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific. Over and over again he retraced his steps, steadily making the path easier to navigate. Eventually he could do what was once impossible in less than a day.
And his work paid off.
Just two days after he’d dragged the last of his treasures to the Pacific coast a mast appeared over the horizon.
The captain of the ship that saved Juan couldn’t believe the treasures he’d collected, nor could he believe Juan’s claims about how hard it had been for him to get them from one coast to the other. He and his crew joined Juan on a trek along the path to and from the opposite coast and it was easy. They all figured the path existed already, made by larger animals in the area or something.
Juan didn’t mind. All that mattered to him was that he’d done it, and now he was safe. And a little bit richer.
What Path Will You Blaze?
Each of us is born in the same situation as Juan, except it’s not life or death and we have infinite options on which path to blaze. We call these paths “talent.”
The process for blazing these talents is called myelination. Myelination is the creation and streamlining of a chain of neurons in your brain. It can only be created through hard work and repetition, just like Juan did. But the more you struggle to create the path and repeat it over and over, the faster and more consistent you will be.
People will assume your myelinated path—your talent—came to you easily. That is never the case. Nobody is born with myelination. We all start from the same place, with a dense jungle of misaligned neurons, and it’s up to each of us to blaze whatever path—whatever talent—we choose.
Dig Deeper: The Talent Code
The concept of myelination isn’t just a theory. It’s an emerging science that is revolutionizing how the world sees and understands talent. To learn more about how it works, how to ignite the desire in yourself and in others to blaze new paths, and how to teach it, start by reading The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.
And for more books to help you pick and pursue whichever path you choose, check out my complete library of reviews, ratings, and rankings here.