“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” — Robert Greene
We all have a talent, a born-given ability that circumvents years of practice to learn. Our first challenge is to identify that talent, and the second challenge—which is perhaps even more difficult—is to find a way to leverage it.
Consider this: Olympic Gold Medals don’t go to the most talented athlete; rather, they go the brave ones that actually showed up to the arena. Everyone has a talent; but talent alone isn’t impressive. It’s what we do with that talent that legends are made of.
There’s a difference between talent and skill, because we can be naturally talented at a craft while at the same time be wholly unskilled at it. This happens when we lack the desire or discipline to cultivate it into a useful skill. Conversely, though we may lack inherit talent in a craft, it is wholly possible to acquire incredible skill in that area. The difference depends on our desire and discipline to follow through.
Malcolm Mitchell is a rookie wide receiver for the New England Patriots who knows all about the difference between talent and skill. In a 2017 interview he shared the story of how when he started college he could only read at a junior high level. Despite his incredible success in football, it bothered him that he lacked sufficient reading skills. Mr. Mitchell decided to do all that he could to change that by putting in the work necessary to improve his reading game. Whenever he wasn’t on the field he had a book in his hands, reading books by the dozens, and he even joined a book club to stay both motivated and accountable. It took a lot of hard work, and it paid off. Nowadays Mr. Mitchell is a children’s literacy advocate and he is himself a published author of a children’s book called “The Magician’s Hat,” teaching children about the magic of reading.
Despite his first big Super Bowl win in 2017, Malcolm Mitchell is adamant that his proudest accomplishments are not found on the field. As he put it:
“That came natural. That’s a gift. I had to work to read.”
The Magic Word Talent reminds us to inventory our natural talents and to always seek new to acquire along the way. It’s by continually growing that we find can be the source of our own amazement.
Up until now how have you been leveraging your natural talents? Are you also skilled at your talents? How might you be able to cultivate them even further?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.