One of the things I love most about my work is that I get a chance to help people see and appreciate their natural talents. When we’re too close to something, sometimes it’s hard to see (and that’s getting less metaphorical and more literal for me the older I get). We don’t see the things that make us shine. Really great listeners don’t know that they’re great listeners, because they’re so busy listening intently. People who ask great questions don’t realize what a gift that truly is, because that’s just what they’ve always done.
So often, when we think of “talent” we assume it must be artistic or athletic – but a talent is simply a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving – we all have all talents. We’re all talented – we’re often just too close to see them.
When we’re little we instinctively know that we get more mileage out of focusing on what we do well. When my kiddo was four-years-old he was always saying to me, “Mom! I can run really fast!….Mom! Watch this! I’m good at mazes!” My favorite one was when we had been reading this great little book together called “Because of You“
“Because of you, there is one more person who can share, care and listen. When people from different countries share, care and listen to each other, it’s called peace.”
Jeremy came home from preschool one day, shortly after we read the book, and told me about having been a good friend to this little boy at school. “Mom! I did peace! I’m good at peace!”.
Now that’s a talent the world could use, eh?
But as we grow up, somehow we get the message that we need to diminish and dismiss what we’re good at doing. We lose sight of our talents and in doing so, dissipate how powerful we really are. We try to cover up what we’re uncomfortable doing, or get hyper-focused on fixing ourselves, and instead of feeling more powerful, we feel less.
Here’s what I know to be true: To bring our best selves to our work and our lives we have to unleash our talents. We cannot influence or hope to lead effectively without doing so. As Marianne Williamson says (so brilliantly that Nelson Mandela quoted her):
“There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I believe that owning and taking responsibility for our talents may be one of the bravest things we can do.