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Hide Not Your Talent

“Hide not your talent. What good is a sundial in the shade?” Benjamin Franklin

When I was an undergraduate I had a friend, Bill Nichols, who was an amazing artist. He was into comic books and as far as I was concerned, he was as good as any comic book artist around. I would have given anything to be able to sketch half as well as Bill.

At the same time, I was a musician, and Bill used to tell me that he would willingly trade his ability to draw for the ability to play the piano. Thankfully we were unable to trade our talents because I went on to things outside of music while Bill became an accomplished artist in his own right.

We all have our own unique talents yet we often undermine our ability by trying to be somebody that we’re not. Of course I could have taken drawing lessons just like Bill could have taken piano lessons. Both of us knew that these talents were simply not our strengths. I could improve my drawing and Bill could improve his piano playing, but it is unlikely that we would ever match the skill set of the other.

Identify your own talents

Rather than bemoaning the fact that you don’t have certain talents, why not identify the unique talents that you do have and develop skills around those? Sounds easy, but there are a number of internal beliefs that sabotage our ability to do this. We may not believe we have any unique strength when the problem is that we have simply never tried to identify it.

What’s easy for you…

Even more likely, we may believe that our unique strength is not unique and that it’s too common to be something that could really make a difference. But remember…what’s easy for you is likely difficult for others just as others have strengths and talents that are difficult for you.

Think about your own strengths for a moment. What is it that you do that makes you happier than anything else when you’re doing it? What activity do you engage in where time seems to be non-existent or simply fly away? What is it about you or about what you do that others have occasionally said they wished they could do or be?

It takes a bit of courage to honestly engage in identifying our own strengths.

It means that we might have to acknowledge some of the things we can’t do. That’s o.k. too, isn’t it? Don’t let the talents of those around you make you feel that yours are inferior. If you can identify those strengths inside of you that have been ignored or minimized over the years, you can start to find ways to incorporate those strengths into your job, your relationships and your life in general.  You can stop wasting energy wishing you are somebody else and start energizing yourself by being you.