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Stop Hiding Your Talent

Hiding Talent

Playing life small is safe. Remaining anonymous keeps the focus and pressure on others.  Yes, anonymity is a life strategy for far too many people.  Marianne Williamson once said:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine as children do.  It is just not in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously permit others to do the same.  As we get liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Is fear driving your life?  Are you afraid to shine? Does what others think of you matter?  Coming of age is typically considered adolescence.  I believe it occurs when we stop living based on what others think about us.  True freedom comes when the opinions of other people no longer handicap us.

Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs from puberty to legal adulthood. Adolescence is usually associated with the teenage years, but its physical, psychological, or cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later.  I believe maturity comes much later in life for most and possibly never for some.  Enlightenment occurs when we can live our best life independent of other human thoughts.  We become free at last.

You are afraid of the light because it exposes you for what you are. Therefore, you suppress talent to mitigate expectations from others.  In doing so, you trade happiness for safety.

"To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness." — John Dewey

Your "fit" in life is the talent you have received applied.  Hidden talent benefits no one.  Other people's lives may change because of your talent.  Your place in the world can create a ripple in the sea of humanity.  It is not the quantification of talent that matters.  No matter how small, it is the application of your natural talent that makes a difference.

Using your talent makes you happy and successful.  Gallup says the best way for people to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel, and behave -- their talents -- then build on those talents to create strengths or the ability to provide near-perfect performance consistently.  They found that building employees' strengths are a far more effective approach to improving performance than improving weaknesses. When employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, perform better, and are less likely to leave their company.

"Hide not your talents; they for use were made.

What's a sundial in the shade?" — Benjamin Franklin

Your talent helps you earn more money.  Utility (usefulness) describes the value of a person's talent.  Others are willing to pay for something they do not have.  If you have the mechanical aptitude to install a kitchen sink or replace a motorcycle carburetor, others lacking the talent will pay you to do so.  If you have legitimate musical talent, others will pay you.  You get the point.  Talent has value due to scarcity.  Successful people discover what they are good at and practice making the gift serve them well.

I worked with a woman leaving an excellent corporate job to leverage her talent for decorating cakes. As a result, a different company has hired her to travel and teach her gift to others.  At first glance, you might think cake decorating has little value as a talent.  You would be wrong.  Others who lack the talent want to learn, and they will use her talent as the barometer to determine their level of ability. Likewise, we use the talent of others to measure our own in whatever area that interests us.

Talents are a gift we do not deserve.  You do not earn innate talent.  The ability to run fast is a genetic gift.  I call this baseline talent.  You do not control the amount of baseline talent you receive.  You do, however, control the work you do to maximize the talent.

"When God gives you a talent, he expects you to use it. It is like a muscle. If you use it, it will grow. If you do not, you'll lose it." -Rick Warren

You have something special about you.  You have an innate talent.  It is a tragedy to discover a talent and suppress it due to the fear of other people's thinking.  If you have not found your talent, it is not too late.  It might reflect how you are living by the fear of other's opinions.  I encourage you to take some chances in life.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Say yes to something that scares you.  You will likely uncover something you did not know you are good at doing.

Take an acting class, for example.  Danny Glover, massive star of Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple, did not start acting until he was 33.  Michael Emerson, star of Lost and Person of Interest, did not start working in movies until he was 41.  You get the point.  We may never discover a talent if we do not try new things in life.

As a leader, you need to convince people (who are afraid) to use their talents.  People get comfortable in jobs they are mediocre at doing.  This tendency is quite common.  You may have a star sales professional in your maintenance department.  An oil and gas CEO found a fantastic operations manager working on Lowe's Home Improvement floor.  Always be on the lookout for talent people hide from view.

It is practically impossible to disprove that some form of "natural talent" exists. Some people are genetically constructed to have a knack for certain things, especially when it comes to physical ability. For most of us, however, success is not a physical venture. We just want to be good at something. We want to make a decent wage doing something fulfilling, so we can live a comfortable life. When we do not get that, we catch ourselves wasting away on our couch, looking at successful people with envy. Oh, that we were blessed with such talent! If only our stars had lined up like theirs did. Well, your stars can change. You just must be the one to change them. -Patrick Allen

Two things are essential to remember. First, if you knowingly waste a talent, it is a tragedy.  Whether because of fear or any other emotion, you are wasting a precious gift in life. If you believe you lack unique talent, you are wasting the opportunity of discovery.  You are living a small, safe life of misery.  Success in life is infinite.  You have as much as you are willing to risk, work, or struggle for in life.  By the way, success is your definition alone.  Being successful at what others consider to be important is an imposter. 

The best painters (artists) create their vision on a blank canvas.  If they paint what others desire, it is no longer their own.   Bohemian Rhapsody, the song by the band Queen, was rejected by record producers at the time.  It will never sell.  Radio stations will never play it because it is too long.  Blah, blah, blah!  The rest is history.  Please do not allow the critics in the cheap seats to determine the value of your talent.  Maximize it to the fullest, and magic will happen!