How to Develop your Talents as a University Student
You have probably heard of Julius Yego, or “the YouTube-Man.” Africa’s most successful javelin thrower and an athletic icon here in Kenya. Kenyans are well known for long-distance running, however, Mr. Yego is a unique athlete as he is a record-breaking field athlete.
In school, Julius would run 10,000 meters or play football. Despite enjoying these activities, he knew that he was not good enough to succeed in them. It was in javelin that he found something that he was truly passionate about and felt that he could be great at. It was during his final year in high school that his javelin prowess was revealed. Despite their desire for him to pursue a traditional education, his parents saw huge potential in the javelin event and allowed him to follow his dreams.
In 2003, he competed in the high school regional championship. In 2006, he won the national junior title and broke the Kenyan junior record. At the age of nineteen in 2008, he won his first national title in the javelin and defended his title in 2009 and 2010.
However, he had no one to coach him. Undeterred Yego turned to the internet and begun researching on general and gym exercises for the javelin event. He then studied the throwing technique and would consistently practice what he was watching on YouTube.
In 2011, he became the first Kenyan to win a medal in a field event during the continental meet when he won gold at the All African Games.
There are several lessons that we can learn from this Kenyan and African giant that you could even begin applying today!
What are you good at?
Everyone has something they thrive in. Julius Yego had an interest in football and was probably under pressure to be like many of the track athletes around him. However, he knew that the javelin was the one area where he was ahead of everyone else. Not only was he passionate about the javelin, but he was also especially good at it. Eric Liddell, a British Gold Medalist in the early 1900s and best known today for the classic movie Chariots of Fire loved to run. He once described the pleasure he derived from running by saying “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Here is what you can do to figure out what you are good at:
- Start by listing down all the things you can do on a piece of paper
- Develop a top three list
- Try and narrow down to the thing that gives you the most reward (not financially) but in terms of inner peace and enjoyment. When I interview someone for my company one of the things that I ask them is – “what would you do (workwise) for free?” At this point, I enjoy watching the interviewees face light up as they describe the tasks or jobs that they would do for free.
Before we move on, please note that you don’t have to figure out everything at once. Between the ages of 15 to 25 try to do as many things as you possibly can. This will help you between the ages of 25 and 35 as you tend to narrow down your interest and have a better idea of who really are and what you enjoy doing.
How can you get better?
Julius Yego is jokingly referred to as Mr. “YouTube man”, not because of his popularity on YouTube but because he worked on perfecting his craft through the video-sharing platform. His exercise regiment, running and throwing techniques were formed through watching YouTube videos. The internet has as much free content for any topic or skill you would like to improve. And while a lot of young people complain that there are not enough mentors, it would be great to remember that there are thousands if not millions of opportunities to get mentored on the internet through interacting with uploaded and produced content. I have mentioned YouTube but there are several other sites that you could use to improve on any skill that you would want to develop:
- Skillshare.com – a community for creatives of all kinds sharing their expertise
- Udemy.com – a large collection of courses
- CNBC Article – 10 free online classes that will help you gain new skills
- CIO Article – 12 free sites to help you grow your tech skills
Digital Learning Content
Tech and Coding Content
- 12 sites that will teach you coding for free or at a low cost
- 81 of the best places to learn how to code for free
Put Yourself Out There
The internet is a great place to learn but it is also a great place to be seen.
Frantic Frames is a stop-motion agency with 113K followers on Instagram. The agency has worked for some of the biggest brands on Instagram and has a long collection of clients and content produced. Frantic Frames is owned by a 17-year-old, self-taught animator named Ben Treat. His Instagram account is his main platform for sharing his content. Fame came calling for Ben when he decided to create 100 stop-motions in 100 days – more about his and how he started at the age of 13 and the story of his journey to success here.
Julian Bass is a black American VFX and video editor who took Hollywood by storm in early July and was recognized by Walt Disney Executive Chairman Robert Iger. You might think that Julian started recently but if you check out his YouTube channel you will find acting and video editing content from 2013.
Locally we know about Azziad Nasenya who is now one of Kenya’s biggest celebrities. These three examples are all people below the ages of 25 who have found out what their talents are and have given their all to pursuing their ambitions and working hard.
I hope that you can find what you are passionate about and begin working on improving your craft.