We share many similar fundamental characteristics and yet each of us is unique. Just as we possess distinct aspirations, personalities, and biological traits, we also exhibit singular talents.
Everyone is endowed with a particular innate ability to excel at something. That difference is not only observable across individuals, but can also be observed within the same individual. For example, Albert Einstein was talented at physics but lacked effective public speaking skills.
After reading extensively on the topic of natural abilities and skill building, I realized that most people—laypeople and scientists alike—either downplay or over-amplify the relevance of talent to our outcomes in life.
Talents exist, but to realize them, consistent labor is needed. In this article, I share six ways you can make the most of your talent.
Increase Your Awareness
To harness our innate ability, we must first acknowledge that we possess it. The fastest way to uncover our talent is by developing self-awareness, which is our ability to tune in to our feelings, thoughts, and actions. Many people assume they don’t have a talent because they never devoted time to observing themselves. By getting in touch with your inner world, you’re more likely to discover your primal inclination, strengths, and weaknesses.
Adopt a Childlike Curiosity
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”- Albert Einstein
If you have been with a child, you are familiar with their tendency to ask questions incessantly. A sense of curiosity is a deeply ingrained biological blueprint allowing a kid to understand the world around them. Research conducted by Ranganath, a psychologist at the University of California, shows that curiosity can even increase long-term memory because of its direct association with the hippocampus, a small organ in the temporal lobe responsible for information processing. These are potent reasons to reconnect with your childlike inquisitiveness in order to make your talents work for you.
Never Stop Learning
To harness your God-given potential, you must make continuous improvement a lifelong habit. I’ve developed a pyramid depicting three ways people use their talents.
The bottom of the pyramid is the realm of mediocrity. That’s where one’s abilities dwarf their actions (will<can). This stage is characterized by boredom, complaining, and envy. Either consciously or unconsciously, some of us choose to stay at this level. As long as our basic needs are met, there is no motivation to stretch ourselves.
The second level is the average-mentality zone. Here, one does exactly what one can do (will=can). Here, we get a false sense of achievement. At this stage, people become complacent and just content themselves to live life one day at a time.
The upper part of the pyramid is where one stretches their abilities (will>can). People at that phase are constantly learning and improving. They enjoy greater fulfillment, happiness, and meaning.
Everyone is absolutely free to stay at whatever stage they please. But if you want to challenge yourself, move past your limitations and make the most of your talent, the upper section is the best place to be.
The era when a teacher would walk into a classroom, impart knowledge, and leave is over. We live in the Digital Age, where relatively everything is available online at the tip of our fingers. Therefore, the most effective way to harness one’s potential is to be self-directed, as explained by the adage: “you can lead a horse to the fountain, but you can’t make them drink.”
Find the Right Social Circle
Take part in lunch-and-learn sessions, and learning groups with like-minded individuals eager to learn from each other. These small groups can enhance our parasympathetic nervous system, paving the way for more efficient learning.
Use Your Discretionary Hours to Your Advantage
Whether you are a student, a parent, or an employee, we are all busy. Fortunately, there are ways to harness your talent despite a busy schedule. How? By engaging in micro-learning without having to sign up for a formal class. Micro-learning involves using our discretionary hours and cloud-based learning technologies to learn.
Discretionary hours refer to those periods when you have no formal engagement. The ten or twenty minutes we spend commuting, staring at our smartphone, or engaging in water cooler chitchat. If you used only eighty percent of your discretionary hours to learn a skill, you can make the most of your talent without being confined to a classroom.
Whatever you think of talent, we can all agree that it takes time and effort to develop it. Will Smith famously said: “Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.”
Talent is one thing, but devoting time to working on it is another. Bill Gates excelled at programming, yet he spends an unspeakable amount of time in his local computer lab improving his skills. Talent alone will only take you so far. Thus, it is your duty to refine your innate talents and develop them into skills.