We are always more anxious to be distinguished for a talent which we do not possess, than to be praised for the fifteen which we do possess. (Mark Twain)
It doesn’t matter how hard I practice, I will never be an Olympic class sprinter. My muscles aren’t built for it. If I had large, efficient lungs, I might be an Olympic marathon runner. I don’t. My talents are the natural advantages I have over others.
I have a lot of talents. I’m good with computers. I’m a decent salesman. People trust me. Some things just aren’t my talents. I like running and physics, but they are not my talents. How do I know? I am slow at learning the basics. I’m always in the bottom third when I run. There are many things I like. Some things I am good at. My talents are the things I learn more quickly and do better than the average person, like working with computers.
Some talents are difficult to develop. They require years of effort. The average professional concert musician practices their instrument 5000 hours before getting good enough to regularly solo professionally. The book Outliers claims the number is 10,000 hours. Louis L’Amour, a prolific writer, submitted story after story at the beginning of his career and very few were published. He developed his talent until he sold over 100 million books.
So how do you discover your talents?
Take an aptitude test online. They also give them at job centers and military recruiting centers. They are designed to find out what you do well, not what you like. If the test asks a lot of questions about what you like the most, it is NOT an aptitude test.
Honestly assess what you found easiest in school. Where did you get by with the least effort? What teachers liked your attitude the most? When did others come to you with questions?
At work you have probably been given some particular tasks. Is it because you are better at those things? Maybe that’s a talent of yours. Do other people have trouble seeing answers that seem obvious to you? That could point to a talent.
Discover your talents and you can use the gifts you’ve been given to excel. That’s what Olympic athletes do. You will find work more interesting when you are flexing a talent.
You will also be paid better. Talents are worth discovering.
Something To Do Today
Write down what you can do easily or what you excel at. What do you pick up more quickly than others?
Tomorrow: I want to be a fireman when I grow up.