Each of us is born with a unique set of natural skills. The challenge we all face is recognizing and developing those skills to their fullest potentials – thus, creating our Talent Advantage. An unused talent is just potential, nothing more. A talent that is recognized and applied is a true TALENT – something at which you excel, receive recognition from others and is satisfying to do. It’s your Talent Advantage.
Have You Found Your Talent Advantage?
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is easy to lose sight of your Talent Advantage and get caught up in pursuing activities that are not supported by your natural skills. How is this possible? Doesn’t it seem that we would gravitate to careers, environments and relationships that use our Talent Advantage? The truth is we are often unaware of our talents, or we dismiss them as “nothing special.”
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you truly love what you do?
• Did you consciously choose what you do without consideration of money or benefits?
• Do you find the environments where you function (work, home and play) supportive and encouraging?
• Are the people around you helping you get what you want out of life?
If you answered “no” it is very possible that you have lost sight of what your Talent Advantage is, or you don’t recognize how to apply it in your life. Consider the following.
A Lesson from Nature
In the 1940s George Reavis wrote a fable titled The Animal School that told of a time when the animals of the Great Forest decided to organize a school. The school adopted an activity curriculum consisting of swimming, running, flying and climbing. All the animals took all the subjects.
As you might expect the ducks were excellent in swimming, but they made only passing grades in flying, and all of them were very poor in running. Since they were slow in running, they had to stay after school for remedial running practice, and they had to drop swimming in order to practice running during their swimming class time. This continued until all the ducks’ webbed feet were very sore and they were only average in swimming. But average was acceptable, so nobody worried.
The rabbits started at the top of the class in running, but did not do so well in swimming so they had to come in early every day for special practice. The teachers were concerned about the rabbits’ high activity level so they were made to walk everywhere instead of running or hopping.
The eagles were definitely problem students. In climbing, the eagles beat all the others to the top of the tree, but they insisted on using their own methods to get there and were quite stubborn about it. The eagles said clearly it was the goal that mattered, and it was quite right for eagles to get to the treetop by flying. They were diagnosed as having oppositional-defiant disorder and put on a strict behavior modification plan.
At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well, and also run, climb and fly a little, had the highest average and was valedictorian.
How We Lose Our Talent Advantage
Because the animals described in the story were not practicing and utilizing their natural skills they lost their Talent Advantage. Giving up natural skills in order to acquire other skills is clearly a silly pursuit for the animals.
Yet, there are times when many of us do just that – lose sight of our Talent Advantage:
• Like the ducks, we are sometimes forced to focus on what we do poorly. In the process we forget what we are really good at doing.
• Like the rabbits, we stop developing our natural skills so that we can fit in with others.
• Like the eagles, we don’t always understand the environments where our natural skills shine, which makes us appear contrary.
• Like the eel, we’ve all probably accepted high praise for average behavior a time or two.
Each of us has talents and skills we know we are naturally gifted at doing. When you put aside your natural skills in order to focus on acquiring other skills, you lose sight of what makes you excel. Like a duck trying to survive on its running skills, living life outside your Talent Advantage is possible, but results in average-to-mediocre performance, frustration, a sense of purposelessness and physical exhaustion. You can do it, but why would you want to?
Claiming Your Talent Advantage
You have a natural birthright to our Talent Advantage. You have abilities for which you have innate potential that are just waiting to be used. Sure, they may require a bit of development, but you will find that efforts spent on your talents are productive, meaningful and rewarding
Why not start today? Claiming your Talent Advantage begins with consciously choosing to do more of what you do best. Give some thought to what you do well. Then look for opportunities to do those things more often!
I am a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd, where I specialize in helping companies both large and small build dynamite teams and systems that WORK. I bring more than 30 years of experience to the table as a business executive and management consultant, specializing in human and technical systems. I love helping people and companies focus the right talent on the right tasks, and succeed.