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America’s Got Talent has it all wrong.
Talent isn’t all about juggling balls or eating fire. Or even doing a lumbar twisting rumba. For me, talent is simply doing the best with what we have. Kindness could be a talent. So could be survival. It’s difficult to pin it down when media pins it down to exhibitionism and audience ratings. Or maybe I am all wrong – because I never made it to a talent show.
But wait. I am writing this on a popular blog. And you are (hopefully) reading it. Maybe, I have some talent after all.
Talent is overrated. Geoffrey Colvin debunks the myth of inborn talent in his bestselling book. He talks about “deliberate practice” that separates the achievers from the pack.
“deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on them.”
The bad news is that you have to work hard with pinpoint intention to polish your talents. The good news is that there are more opportunities than ever before to spit-shine your hidden talents and not let them die. Let’s talk about them.
Have You Discovered Your Talent?
Thanks to the glut of hyped overachievers, it’s easy to feel overawed into silence. It’s easy to think that talent leading to riches is THE end goal. But using your talents need not be a competitive catapult – it can be the little joy for a dull weekend. Or a stress buster on a busy day. It is the mere act of pursuing something to the best of your ability every day that makes you unique. Your passion could be a joy factor for yourself alone, or it could bring a smile to those around you.
So, if you have discovered something you are good at (or want to be good at), ask yourself – have you bottled it, or is it time to set it free!
Tap Into Your Childhood
Childhood likes and talents often do not blossom into hobbies or careers. Rediscovering them could be a key for personal development.
Maybe, you folded aerodynamic paper planes or fingerpainted. I drew accurate sketches of World War II aircrafts till the drawing skills went into flowcharts and circulatory systems. Psychology Today tells us to recall our childhood games and use them as clues to figure out current passions. Try to figure our clues from the books you read or the music you listened to. But how?
Keeping a personal journal could help you talk to yourself. You could discover forgotten desires and find creative ways to bring them into your current work. I am not drawing Spitfires anymore, but I do use a lot of visual sketching to think around my writing.
Feed Your Mind
Thanks to the Web, you can just “hang around”…and absorb like a weed.
You don’t have to go to an art gallery. You can just tap a word in a search engine and be transported to Google Art Project or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or any other virtual tour. If you cannot find your peers around you, simply feed your mind with resources like Flickr Groups, DeviantArt forums, and Google+ communities. Take any kind of skill or talent – you will find some form of its expression online.
Take A Second Look At Your Job
Let’s face it. Not everyone among us can escape the cubicles.
We have bills to pay and mortgages to cut. You are a lawyer living by the billable minutes. You want to be an artist in your next life but there’s no time to bring up the “other talent I had” question. Heck, why not look into being an art attorney. The point is not to leave everything behind and chase the rainbow, but to take a second look into your job and discover areas where you can apply your hidden talents.
Staying in our comfort zones is boring. The latent talents could be just the thing to add a bit of freshness to the daily job. Your talent could also be the special skill which sets you apart from the rest.
Cal Newport in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You talks about the benefits of creating career capital with such rare skills. Career capital are the unique skills you have that can add the extra edge to the work you do. He gives us the idea to adopt the mindset of a “craftsman” who continuously works to refine his skills and lives outside his comfort zone.
Use Your Friends
Honest friends will tell you that you suck.
That’s useful feedback if you use them as sounding boards for your talent. They will also tell you specifically or even silently, that you have the talent. A friend of mine is very artistic with nail design. She seeks any opportunity to work on her friends. Come a wedding, and her mobile starts ringing. That’s useful practice if she ever decides to chuck her PR job for nail designing.
Maybe, you are a student with a Zen for programming. Ever given a thought to creating little programs for your friends and family. Like a small tax calculator that’s personalized for their needs? Or macros that can make working in Excel a little easier? Who knows, with your talent on display, they could be the very people to support your dreams one day. So, think of areas where you can help the readily available clientele of family and friends with your hidden skills. For free of course.
Use Social Media For A Feedback
Take charge of your talents. What easier way than social media!
Shawn Mendes became a music sensation in six seconds. Of course, those six seconds of Vine hid many years of hard work. This is the time where you have to visually showcase your talents. If you have even a smattering of some talent (or even an interest), don’t be invisible – bring it online. You could be a hashtag away from crowd likes. You can get a side job with social media .
Gary Vaynerchuk launched a talent agency called Grape Story for wannabe Vine stars. Cycle is doing it with Instagram. YouTube has created a galaxy of homegrown stars like Lindsey Stirling and CDZA. I won’t talk about the other Canadian who was discovered through YouTube. Justin Bieber.
Spread out on creative melting pots like Behance, Pinterest, DeviantART, and new ones like StudioVOX and take inspiration from like-minds. Niche social networks are springing up around interests. You just have to look around.
Be A Part Of Crowdsourcing
A hobby baker went to Kickstarter. Successfully funded. There are very small projects around your talents which you can set up successfully with crowd support. Trawl through the Small Projects page on the popular crowdfunding site. There are other types of crowdsourced activities around the Web which are not about raising funds. Participating in these gives you instant feedback and is a free no-effort outlet for the talents you might want to show.
Love writing…try citizen journalism (I actually started with this myself). You can make money on the side with design skills and design contests. Into fashion? Look into Makerwear and its curated design contests.
Companies know that they can bet on the crowd for innovative answers. Many of them are using it for not only collaboration but also hiring. Check Create.it.
Be Willing To Be Stupid
We have the permission to create junk. The one thing that stops us from rekindling our talents is a feeling of inadequacy. But you do not need anyone’s permission, or need to be an expert. You need not worry about things that didn’t happen in the past. Just start. Create junk…but create it in little bits every day. The greatest power on Earth is the cumulative potential of little steps. The first draft of a book is never the best. Writing only hundred words a day could turn out a book in six months’ time. Or bigger – two books in an year. The author who finishes the book is a far improved one than the one who started it.
You could be singing quietly right now. Are you singing your song? Tell us how are you utilizing your talents. It could be a spark of inspiration for the rest of our community.