My 16-year old daughter recently told me:
I have no talents. All my friends have talents but I don’t.
Maybe you’ve felt the same as her and have no idea how to discover your talent. That’s why I’m sharing with you exactly what I shared with my daughter.
Before we dig into what you can do to discover your talent, I want you to remember one very key aspect of all this, talent is defined as a
Natural aptitude or skill
Don’t confuse having an aptitude or skill with having it completely refined. A talent is something you have a capacity for doing well, with less effort than others have to put into the same task. Did you see that key word in there? CAPACITY for doing. Your talent isn’t something you can do without putting in any effort, but something you can do with less effort than most others might need to invest.
This is what often keeps people from discovering their natural talent because they feel it should just come to them naturally, without any work or effort. That’s wrong. Sorry.
Try this: Go to one of your friends you feel is incredibly talented and ask them to add up the hours of practice they put into developing that natural talent. I have no doubt you’ll be surprised.
1. What Causes You To Lose Track of Time?
When was the last time you engaged in an activity and then before you knew it several hours had passed? Binging on Netflix doesn’t count! Think about something that is either creative in nature or of service to others.
Netflix binging doesn’t really count because it’s a selfish indulgence and those aren’t really considered talents in my mind, certainly not talents you can use to better the world, even if it’s just for entertainment purposes.
I would suggest you take the time to write down those activities you love doing and looking for any commonality between them all. If you lost track of time planting a new flower garden you don’t necessarily have a natural talent for growing flowers, but you may find you have several items which all involved color arranging or decorating. Being able to see how those flowers should be placed in the garden is part of your potential talent.
So make a list of those items for now. As you move through this list, you will start to see a pattern emerging. Don’t rush to figure it out.
2. Ask Others Who Love You.
I see so many talents in my daughter, I could write a book about them, but she couldn’t see them. And I would imagine a lot of her “very talented” friends feel they don’t have any to offer either. This is one of the many ways we tend to beat ourselves up.
Too often we’re wrapped up in a world of comparisons. Who has the nicest yard on the street? Who’s wearing the most expensive sunglasses? Who’s boat is bigger, faster, roomier? The sad truth is, there’s almost always someone who has something bigger, faster, more luxurious, or whatever… than you.
This is what has left us feeling talentless and defeated.
There’s a very good chance you have numerous talents you don’t realize but your loved ones do. So take a minute to get with them one-on-one and find out what talent they think you have. But, be careful not to discard the talent with an abrupt “Oh, everyone can do that. That’s not a talent!” When you get that feeling, instead ask something like “Really, is that something most people find difficult?”
You’re not looking for sympathy here, you’re looking for people who care enough about you to not immediately go into comparison mode in an effort to outdo you in the talent department.
Make a list of these talents and gifts you have and add them to the ones you listed above. Again, you’re looking for patterns or a common attribute which will lead you to an area of talent. Inside of that area is where you’ll be able to experiment and find out what specific activity might be your talent.
3. What Seems Very Easy to You?
If you struggle with explaining something to someone and it seems incredibly clear and simple to you, it’s probably because you have a natural talent in that area. Cooking is one of those areas for my daughter. She has a natural talent for figuring what she should add to a dish which would compliment the main ingredient without overpowering it. It seems so simple to her.
I once asked a friend to teach me a few songs on the guitar. He’s a very talented musician who has a natural understanding of music. As he started to strum out the tune I stopped him and said “wait! what strum pattern is that? Up up, down, down-up-down, up?” He looked at me and said “WHAT? Strum pattern? You just play like this…” and he started to strum this pattern again. For him, it came so naturally and he never once in his life had to consider how he was strumming the chords.
This same friend struggled with knowing how to change his own oil and can’t even fathom the idea of rebuilding an engine, something I love to do and find incredibly clear and simple.
Are there any items on the list you created which you feel don’t need to be explained but others do? Is there something that you have struggled to tell others how to do but you can do with your eyes closed?
4. What Energizes You?
In life, we have a mixture of activities which both drain us and energize us. For someone, sitting at the beach is draining as they quickly get bored and frustrated with the hot sun beating down and the sand blowing onto their food. For me, I love the little bit of crunch beach sand gives my sandwich and the boredom is non-existent as I’m entertained by every wave that crashes on the shore. I’m energized at the beach.
If I told some individuals that they were going to be on stage presenting to an auditorium of people on Saturday night, they’d be drained emotionally by Thursday afternoon just thinking about the anxiety of performing in front of a room of people. For me, I’d be nervous, but I’d also know that the moment I get on that stage I’d be bursting with energy and excitement. Performing for others energizes me.
So take a minute and think about what charges you up inside. Don’t confuse nervousness with being drained. Being nervous is simply a sign that you care about the outcome of the event and want to meet expectations.
Explore Your Interests
I want to encourage you to take some time over the next few days to explore some of the items you put on this list. Try out as many of them as possible to find out which ones come to you easier than they may come to others. This doesn’t mean they’re easy, it just means you don’t have to work as hard as the typical person.
Scratch some items off your list and add new ones that may come to mind. Eventually, you’ll work this down to just a few items for which you have a natural talent. But, you’re not finished yet…
Nurture Your Natural Talent
These natural talents are like a finely crafted musical instrument. Sitting in the corner of the room, they may look nice, but their real value won’t be discovered until they’re in the hands of someone who has put in the work to bring out their musical beauty. You need to invest the time in your talents so you can maximize your gift to the world.
I would even suggest putting this time in your calendar to nurture your talents. Make it a priority to exercise your gift and advance your skills. It’s encumbered upon you to mold and shape this talent, nobody else can do it for you. But, be careful you don’t push yourself too hard. That’s when a pleasure becomes a chore and it gets left in the pile of other chores that go undone each day.
I would love to hear if you’ve discovered a talent you didn’t know you had. Leave a comment below and tell me all about it. In fact, I may even check in with you from time-to-time to see if you’re continuing to nurture it. I can’t wait to hear what your gift might be.