I wasn't raised in an academically friendly home, I took no art classes or even imagined life beyond High School. What I did do is consume a lot of alcohol and marijuana, I was the class clown. I also worked hard at manual labor jobs since a work ethic was my dad's solution to everything and work was a badge of honor. "If a man knows how to work, he'll never go hungry" he would often say. A work ethic is what has lead to my success.
Since I teach foundations, I get students from a wide range of talent and experience. I tell them that when I started taking art classes, including 3D design (which I now teach) I thought everyone else was more prepared than I was. 3D Design is an intimidating class. Students make objects that they have never made using material that they have never used in an art making context. I share with them some aspects of my "formative" background to hopefully put them at ease. I also tell them that where other students had innate talent, I had the ability to work, to stick with an idea long enough to determine whether it's workable and I worked harder than many of the more "prepared" students.
I've developed a significant amount of technical skill and conceptual insight over the years. I'm often complimented on my sculpture and my facility with clay. I'm asked, "How do you make clay look like that?" My joking reaction is, "brute strength and ignorance". There's some truth to that (minus the ignorant part) I work on a piece until it's right. I'm engaged and actively pursuing the next question and invested in the work so that I can respond when a new idea presents itself. "Inspiration finds me hard at work".
I want to convince my students that if they can transition from working on their assignments for a grade to working to make them great, those skills and habits will transfer to every aspect of their professional lives whether in the arts or some other path.