“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, what’s a sundial in the shade?” – Benjamin Franklin
Think of the most successful people you know. Some may come with a fancy job title or an impressive LinkedIn profile, but what is certain among the very successful are these three things: they excel at what they do, are established in their chosen field of interest, and seek constant growth. Now it’s up to you how you measure success, but in this millennial age there is no doubt that happiness and purpose must coincide with any sort of big career move. This is difficult at times being in a world that says good grades and a steadfast work ethic are still not enough to break through an industry. There are many people out there with extreme creativity or academic dedication or innovative mindsets who are all suffering from an epidemic of untapped potential. One defining factor between the successful and the almost-there is the proper use of one’s talents. Those people who have made it, they are the ones who have realized and utilized their unique skills. It is possible, dear friends, to become the person that other people refer to upon hearing the word “successful.” Understanding and using your talents could be your gateway into finding the cross-section of work and passion. But first, let’s go over two common and very unfortunate misconceptions:
- I don’t have any talents.
- I do have talents, but they are useless.
People must be able to surpass these ideas and realize that everyone is talented and there are practical ways to make talents relevant. We’re not talking about the whistling or saying the alphabet backwards kind of talent (though do keep those in your back pocket, countless dinner parties await you), but rather, the particular skills and capacities that are transferable into your everyday ventures.
The search is on: Discover & Develop
Everyone is bent a certain way and because of this, we each fit into our own niches in life. The crucial first step in engaging your talents is to find them. Here are a few thoughts to ponder to start your very own talent search:
- What’s something that you find yourself thinking about and getting lost in thought?
- What activities do you excel in or wish to excel in?
Being able to answer these questions may help you pinpoint certain interests that you can develop through practice. One of the best books about unlocking creativity is Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist.” As an artist and New York Times Bestselling author, he advises his readers to “write what you like” and “not what you know” and emphasizes the importance of everyone having side projects. Hobbies and side projects are the best ways to foster your interests and ultimately serve as tangible examples of your talents. Whether you are into photography, calligraphy, producing music, planning events, coding, blogging, analyzing movies, or whatever it may be, dedicate time to produce that kind of work. As Kleon says, “Take time to mess around. Get Lost. Wander. You never know where it’s going to lead you.”
Real use in real time: Harness & Employ
Sometimes people have talents that directly align with their studies and jobs. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, it is important to utilize them. Once you have identified your talents, spend time to create ways to share them with the world. Perhaps those photos you take on the side are the mere start of your traveling photography blog. Maybe your love for getting people together will allow you to start your company’s first-ever social retreat to boost employee engagement. With so many channels of communication through social media, everyone has the chance to appeal to the masses. Let your ideas be heard and create teams of people who share the same interests. Kickstarter.com is the world’s largest funding platform in which people can promote their ideas for a product or project to the public, gaining an audience and financial backing. It is a gold mine for ideas and the talented people behind them. It takes courage and planning to bring your talents to the forefront of situations, but allow yourself to create opportunities that not only welcome your talents but require them. You can be the person who has that certain skill, that particular edge that is needed for an upcoming project.
Today is the day to spend time with your talents and make something real with them. Sir Ken Robinson once said, “A strong passion allied with even a moderate talent, will generally get you further than a strong talent with little enthusiasm.” Translation: As long as you work with joy and resilience, there really is no stopping you.
Image: Ali Inay