Our Talents Are Our Gifts - Use Them Well

We all have talents. In varying directions of varying types. Some common to all. Others all of our own. Some innate, others honed and developed by us in the 'cauldron' of life.

What are talents?

They can be a personal skill or strength. They can be an ability we have, a quality we have, a strength we have. They help us in our daily lives. We rely upon them to pull us through. To aid our passage in life. To help us accomplish things. To help us get the most out of life and ourselves.

They can be a particular aptitude that we have developed and use. A particular attribute we might have that we can take advantage of. They may be something that we enjoy doing and have developed a special flair for. They can be the product of our own inventiveness. They can rise from a passion we have, that we have improved and now use to good effect. A talent may arise from a proficiency we have discovered that we have strengthened over time. They may originate from a strength we have that we share with many others, but we, in particular, have focused on this area and have been able to maximize our ability and expanded its usefulness.

Do I have talents?

Yes, of course. We all do. Certain things that we have taken to and developed ourselves. Or certain attributes that we display particular skills or abilities with. And we probably take them for granted. Another person admires our strengths and expertise in something or with something that they find difficult, onerous or time consuming. We, in our own way, admire others for their special qualities and gifts.

Where do talents originate?

Some we seem born with. Others we have the capability and we strengthen, support and improve them over time until they are what they are today. In some ways we may be naturally talented. An artist or musician. A sportsperson or writer. A communicator or entertainer.

Some people are born with special abilities or strengths that become apparent at an early age. We call them prodigies. These are quite common (in their rarity) in languages, mathematics and music it seems. But can manifest in other areas like chess and sport. Where very unusual gifts are seen and come through early in life. Whether genius is born or nurtured is a debate without end. What we can do is admire others for their abilities while at the same time trying to make the most of our own.

And other talents . . .

Other talents we develop. We have a need and ability and can improve the ability to better meet the need. We have a bent (a gift) in a certain direction. We study, practice, improve and this gift we have flowers into something of use, something of importance. And this is something we all in our own way, in our own life. We just do it and can often take it for granted.

Some just seem natural. We take to something like a duck in water and excel from day one. We enjoy our pursuit or accomplishment yet we may not see it as anything special. After all we have always been good at it so is that special? To others probably yes, but for us it just seems normal.

Do we make the most of our talents?

Making the most of our abilities is part of life. We don't, for the large part, sit around and do nothing. (Some people have to. But others do it anyway. Do they have a special ability for sitting or are they just lazy - that is for them to judge. But life moves by at a quick enough rate anyway without us not making the most of our time or our efforts.)

We want to do things. We enjoy doing things. We want to do things well. We want to improve. We want to grow. We want to develop. After all any new (or old) pursuit or activity we participate in can challenge us. We can either rise to the challenge and do our best, or roll over and give up. Again our choice.


A personal interlude

I don't have a talent for swimming unlike some Olympians we could mention. I did not learn as a child, in fact I had little support. Nobody in my family could swim, which does not help. At school the teachers did not really know how to deal with someone who basically was afraid of the water. I felt alien in the water and not at all at home. A few attempts were made but after they did not work or help I was left 'high and dry' (the expression is) but still in the shallow end of the pool and away from the real action and enjoyment exhibited by the swimmers at the other end. I could only sit back, and be a little frustrated, but admire my friends for their talent and abilities in the water.

I eventually forced myself, at age of 28, and after a work colleague had summoned the courage the year before - when I got to the pool gates but turned round defeated before I had started. At the age of 28 I went along to the city swimming pool to learn. After a few weeks I could swim a width and a length, and in the deep end, but still would not jump in off the side.

A (new) friend shamed me. He did not have good coordination in the water and found swimming any distance difficult - he seemed all arms and legs as the saying goes - but he willing dived in off the side of the pool and out of his depth. And there was me left sitting on the pool edge unable to move.

Christmas went by and the New Year began. And I had made a New Year resolution. To dive in off the side or to give up swimming altogether.

The next class came. I swam fine, in fact was improving, but still had not jumped in off the side. The end of the class drew near and I still had not done it. I thought about it more, had been thinking all the lesson. Then I just thought I couldn't not give it a try. So class nearly, very nearly over, I made a half hearted attempt of jumping in, with one hand still on pool side. And I survived. What relief (nothing to you seasoned swimmers I know, but to me this was a goal achieved, a forbidden dream that I had survived.). So I immediately got back out and dived back in - before I could talk myself out of it again - and never looked back.

I managed diving off the second board. Time then prevented me going off the top board. And now, years later, I must admit the top board is a bit intimidating. But I now know if push came to shove - my own shove I hope - then I could do that, too. Jump off the top board.

But basically my great fear had changed to being a healthy respect. Sure drop me off in the middle of the Pacific and I would be in real trouble - like most others would - but otherwise I would be in with a healthy chance of survival - and would at least have a chance of quelling my initial panic at my predicament.

So, healthy respect for me is good. I can live with that. I have swum since. Not great and should do more; and now mostly on holidays. But I can now do it.

I don't now have a talent for swimming but I do have a working ability. One that could save my life one day, who knows? And that is not to be sneezed at - whatever the ability.


So, what of abilities?

And an ability is not a talent, we might say. But, in so doing we don't want to take away the ability and its usefulness to us in life. Is not life making the most of what you have and getting the best out of it, out of you, out of life. What greater challenge can we accept - whatever our situation, our starting point, our abilities, our talents. No matter, take up that challenge and you can be a winner in life. Just tackle it in your own, special and unique way - go win.

Is doing my best a talent - I seem talent-less . . .?

Firstly, no one has no talents. We all our special gifts, talents, strengths - call them what you will.

Yes, doing your best is good, is it not? Not all people manage it. If you do then great. You can count this as one of your strengths. Others may not view it as a talent, but does that matter. No. Use it. And use it to help discover other strengths you have in your armory. And then use them, too.

They may lie dormant or unused. They may be hidden and undiscovered. It is just that we have not found them yet. Or we have and we don't appreciate fully what we have in our hands. The ability we have we may knock, but others would certainly swap with us. Others would like the talent we have. It is up to us to find it and use it. And it can be several or many talents, and not just one.

And, how do I find them? How do I go about identifying talents?

Give yourself a break - to start with. Don't worry. You have them. They will manifest and in your everyday life. You have used them; you just don't realize that you have - until now. Now you can look at yourself and what you do, and how you do it - look at it a little more closely and you will find them.

You will find your very own treasure trove of talents. Your very own gifts. Individual to you. Special to you.

And they may be small, they could be big. Size is not the issue. Nor is the importance someone else might place on it. Only how you feel yourself about it. About you.

Your own gifts . . .

Be confident you have your own special gifts. It may be talking to people. It may be listening. It may be compassion.

It may be get up and go. You may be able to motivate others. You may be able to do complicated maths. You may be able to draw. You may be able to mould an argument - as in legal argument. You may be able to ... And you just need to fill in the dots yourself.

Fill the dots in from your own experience, from your own life.

You have strengths, skills, talents, qualities that others would treasure - and would take off your hands if they could. You just need to realize this for yourself. Realize yours may have remained hidden. But this is your chance to give them an airing. To let them see the sun. To show them off to the air. Others can find out later, just find out for yourself at this point.

What happens if I lose the ability?

Don't worry, to start with. It might be temporary anyway. Otherwise realize that nothing is forever. But what life may take with one 'hand' it gives with another.

I have not had the experience but I have heard often enough, that people who are blind, for instance, have other senses that help them cope with the loss. Hearing and smell for instance.

And we are very adaptable are we not. If we look around, and particularly on news programs, where people, less well off than ourselves, in either war-torn or mal-nourished parts of the world - these people manage to adapt in ways that we would find impossible.

If put under pressure we can either bend or wilt, or we can try to meet the stress, whatever it might be. We have extraordinary abilities to adapt and change and mould ourselves to changing environments. People get lost in jungles, deserts, mountains and fight for survival.

If they can do that so can we. We can meet the ever changing circumstances of life. And meet life with fortitude, with hope, with confidence, with excitement. With excitement that another day has dawned and we are a part of it.

And what should I do?

How you live your life is down to you. But it would be foolish not to make the most of any talents, gifts, skills or strengths that we might have, would it not? Use them

  • in work or play, it does not really matter
  • whether they are home grown or developed
  • whether yours of life or God given - does that matter
  • whether they are big or small
  • day to day
  • and contribute to the world you live in

Accepting our lot in life

Acceptance is a big thing. Acceptance of life is one of our tasks. And acceptance of ourselves is one of life's biggest challenges. Using our talents, whatever they may be or do, is one of our richest sources of pleasure and achievement. Use them wisely. Use them regularly. Use them both for your own ends and for the common good and you will find true pleasure and enjoyment in life.