What Are Your Secret Talents?

Couch potatoes never know what bulging, rippling muscles they might attain by spending their couch time at the gym. On the couch, even repetitive bench pressing of the biggest, baddest universal remote won’t cut or tone a noticeable muscle.

What may not be so obvious is the same holds true for exercising/non-exercising of our talents. Just as a dedicated couch potato will never know if he has a set of six-pack abs waiting to be liberated, we’ll never develop our abilities without putting in time exercising them.

Abilities are a lot like muscles; you have to work them to have them. And the more you work them, the more impressive they become.

Sometimes talents are harder to spot that hidden muscle. Which brings up the question, “What abilities do I have to develop?” We may have an absolute treasure trove of inborn talents lurking inside us, waiting to be discovered. We may be so oblivious, we may even claim to lack talent.

Not so fast, bucko. Everybody’s born with talent. That’s spelled e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y. Lots of talent. But secret.

We can’t look at a baby and tell what career will suit their talents. Babies eat. They cry. They do things only a parent in love would be willing to deal with–and then sometimes grudgingly. But exhibit talent? No.

Talent is a treasure hunt. And unless we go hunting, we can live and die without uncovering our treasures within. It’s like have millions in the bank that nobody told us about.

We spot some talents easily. Schools teach us to read early on. Those with literary talents find reading easy. Others struggle. This has nothing to do with our value, but with our direction. If reading is a chore, we probably won’t want to become an editor or a writer; our path goes in a different direction.

School sports programs uncover athletic talent. Some people run like the wind almost from the moment they stand up; others never get beyond a lead-foot trudge.

One child sings complete songs–on key–at an early age. Another takes their toys apart and–more importantly–puts them back together. Yet another accurately counts the change they receive when buying candy. We shouldn’t dismiss these things with an “isn’t that cute” remark. They’re all part of the talent hunt.

But some talents aren’t so easy to spot. How do we know where to dig for the treasure?

A sure sign of talent is doing easily what others find hard, and we’ll miss it if we’re not looking. It’s a natural tendency to think everybody can do what we can do–if they wanted to. We decide–without spending a millisecond checking it out–that everybody finds it as easy to do as we do. And we miss the 500-pound-gorilla clue sitting right in front of us.

We may decide we’re good at something because, since we enjoy it, we get a lot of practice at it. Sure, practice makes us better, but practice–despite popular opinion–doesn’t make perfect. Effort only takes us so far. It’s talent that takes us all the way.

Truly gifted people often fall into the “imposter” trap. We get many, many compliments. We may even make a lot of money doing what we do. But we can’t accept the praise. We can’t believe we deserve it because “everybody can do it,” and we just got lucky.

To our minds, it seems we’ve had a free ride so far. Worse, we believe that some day we’ll get found out and exposed as an impostor. Anybody sitting on that thought is atop a talent gold mine.

So maybe it’s inventory time. Let’s check out what we enjoy doing and people say we’re good at.

Even better, what do we do that makes people sound like they’re jealous? If snarky people see a need to “put us in our place,” race straight for the bank and cash that check.

Sincerely good or sincerely critical, people’s reactions tell a powerful story.

We need to start hunting along the talent trail. Who knows what good stuff we’ll find? Hubba hubba.

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