Invisible Blessings: Appreciating Our Talents

No matter who you are, where you come from, or what your background is, we all come into this world blessed with multiple talents. What forms these talents take is as varied as the people who have them. Some can be traced to familial disposition such as the balancing abilities of the Flying Wallendas or the quick witted sense of humor passed from one generation to the next. Others arrive out of the blue—nobody dreamed that little Johnny (from a family of pacifists) would prove himself to be a crack shot at the shooting range.

But not all our gifts are so easily defined. How do you encapsulate the combination of instincts and skills a person has whose confidence and common sense enable him to lead effectively? Or that of someone who unconsciously knows what to do or say in the immediate aftermath of a crisis? Or what it takes for somebody to be able to look at a column of figures and “just know” something is wrong?

If you were to list your top three talents, what would they be?

If asked, what would your closest friends say about you?

How do you account for the difference?

In a life filled with demands on our time, energy, and resources, with change occurring on a global level and at a breathless pace, it’s understandable that we tend to feel drained or overwhelmed. One way to compensate for this is to seek out things we can feel good about. An easy place to begin and one that is often overlooked is to acknowledge and be grateful for our talents. I don’t know whether the practice of playing these down is a residue of our Puritan heritage or a reaction against the braggadocio culture we see on tv, but a lot of people spurn what they do well, dismissing these innate abilities out of hand. Why is that?

I know what the answer is for me. The answer is that I was afraid—afraid I wasn’t good enough, afraid that if I expressed an interest or pride in doing whatever, I’d discover that I was wrong—that I wasn’t so great at it. When it came to writing in particular, the possibility that I was actually mediocre was so painful to contemplate that, for years, I pretended it didn’t interest me at all. It felt too vulnerable to admit in the DC power player world where I grew up that I wasn’t interested in changing the world or becoming a millionaire or saving a life. What I wanted to do was tell my little stories; what drew my attention each time I opened a newspaper or magazine was silly and frivolous—therefore, I must be, too.

Which of your talents have you walked away from?

As for my other talents, I dismissed many of them as unimportant. As it turns out, I have a fairly good singing voice with a range of three octaves. Growing up, I was encouraged to sing, enjoyed it, and regularly performed, but the more important other people’s opinions became to me, the more I withdrew. As the years went on, I stopped singing altogether, fearful of drawing attention to myself, letting my imagination run away with me. A very different example involves my people skills. Apparently, they’re good enough that I am regularly approached to do work as a fundraiser—a field in which I have zero interest. I won’t budge on this, no matter how many times I’ve been chastised as short sighted and just plain stupid. My point in sharing this with you is not to set out a roster of talents, but to demonstrate my reaction to them and why it is they lie unused.

Which of your talents do you ignore? Why is that?

 

The risk we run disregarding our talents is that, eventually, they will shrivel up and blow away. These abilities, if we pursue them, may open up worlds of opportunity we never considered. It’s akin to diversifying your financial portfolio rather than investing all your money in a single stock. We’ve been given these talents for a reason, but it is up to us to discover what that reason is! Minimizing the things that come easily is an error many adults make. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

How often have you thought something similar? How often do you let stubbornness, ego, or laziness get in your way?

To make my questions less threatening, let’s first start by considering somebody else. Whether it’s a relative, friend, or random person you know, what talents have you watched them flout? Why do you think they do so? What possibilities could you imagine for them were they to give this thing a serious go?

Re-booters understand that we don’t have to be the best in the world. While there will always be others more talented than we, what utilizing our talents does is introduce us to additional experiences of success, knowledge, and insight. The willingness to take advantage of what we do naturally well enhances our understanding of ourself. Positive energy increases when we build on what we’re good at.

Take a few moments to remember those talents you have that you’ve been blowing off—why not give them a trial run? You don’t have to tell anyone, just take ‘em for a test run. See what happens next.

Talents

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