Look for behaviors that reflect the love of it.
When our daughter was little she asked to be signed up for the next level of an expensive gymnastics class she’d taken before. We flat out said no.
“Why not?” she asked, disappointed.
“Because,” we answered as kindly as we could, “you’re just not that into gymnastics.”
Despite her ensuing pleas, we stuck to our guns. While we would’ve liked for her to get the physical activity of a gymnastics class, this particular (expensive!) one was not a great idea. In the previous class, her lackadaisical approach to the work was glaringly evident, especially seen against the jumping-bean energy of her classmates.
You may say that it was fear and we should have pushed her through, but it wasn’t her first gymnastics class. Her interest in it never improved. She simply did not have all that much interest in tumbling. She wasn’t practicing on her bed or outside on the soft grass. She wasn’t demonstrating any curiosity about the world gymnastics competitions on TV. The passion for it wasn’t there. We decided to move on to other activities to see what might stick instead of pouring money into something she barely did.
Living in a dense suburb gives you some keen insights into what passion looks like for kids. You can see kids engaged in their favorite activities every day. And I don’t mean on the playing fields. I mean at home. At the beach. On the sidelines. Waiting for the school bus or walking home. Gymnastics lovers are literally tumbling down the street. Soccer players try to wear their shin guards on non-game nights.
When a kid wants to eat and breathe a sport, even a promise of no vegetables ever again won’t make them give it up. It is then safe to go ahead and pay for that expensive club. You’ve found something that sticks.
Similar rules apply to adults. People who have passion for an activity DO THAT ACTIVITY. They do it for the love of it. Yes, while making a living off one’s passion would be ideal, passionate people don’t allow that to stop them from creating, doing, and being in that hobby. Sure, fear and lack of confidence are barriers for some creatives, but the question is – are they still practicing in the dark? Writers block, for example, comes from performance anxiety. Writers write, but when it comes to writing something that is meant to be seen by others, they may freeze from the fear. That doesn’t mean they stop writing. True writers, the ones that would write with their own blood if that is all they had left, still keep writing. They may let the public project languish but they are still pounding away in their journals or pushing out more poetry.
So if you want to know if something is going to stick, watch how that person behaves when they think no-one is watching. Dancers dance. Tumblers tumble. The love of it will leak out.