How do I know whether I have a talent?
This is a case not of if you have a talent, but what your talent is. I wholeheartedly believe that we’re all endowed with something unique within us that can be put to use, something that connects us to our own distinct purpose for being. Our primary challenge is figuring out what that is. If you’re still searching – regardless of your age – it’s okay. Some of our talents are well hidden from our view. To help, there are countless assessments and resources out there you can turn to that will help you. Two books to consider are:
Is Your Genius At Work? by Dick Richards. Dick works from a model that we all have one unique genius that is an exceptional power that just comes naturally to us. His book is a wonderful guide for discovering our talent and how to apply it in our life and work.
StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Once you complete the web-based assessment, you can return to the book for ideas on how to bring your five strengths into daily action. The real key to the assessment and book is taking the strengths and compiling them into a unique concept of who you are and what you can do that no one else can.
Just don’t fall into the trap of considering each resource the end-all, ultimate source of insight about you and your talent. Instead, take each one and combine them all to form a story. This may take some help from others around you.
Make the most of your talent…practice it.
If you do happen to pick up StrengthsFinder, you’ll discover that Rath uses an equation that ties talents and strengths together:
talent x investment = strength
Talent: a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving.
Investment: time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base.
Strength: the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.
When you do figure out your talent, that’s just the first step. The next step is develop and fine-tune it. Here’s an example to help illustrate how this equation works. Say you have a passion for the cello and practice your heart out for years. But no one is going to confuse you for Yo Yo Ma or even a symphony-level performer. There’s nothing wrong with this, but recognize that cello playing will never be a strength regardless of how hard you practice. The reason is that you lack the talent. But let’s say you have incredible talent, but don’t bother to put in the effort to hone it. You’re simply wasting your talent because you don’t make the investment necessary to make it a strength.
In the end, it takes the ability to recognize your talent and invest the time and effort to make it a true strength.