The Courage of Your Talent

The Courage of Your Talent

“You must have the courage of your talent.” With that statement, Alan Weiss opened his three-day Thought Leadership symposium in Palm Beach last fall. It was meant to provoke us and stimulate some serious soul-searching. It did both.

Talents are innate abilities, gifts that people are born with, such as athletic prowess, an aptitude for singing or playing a musical instrument, the capacity for communicating deeply, a flair for the dramatic, the power to bring out the best in those they meet, the ability to inspire people to action. Talents are different than skills, which can be learned. Although talents can be honed with practice, no amount of practice can create talent.

If asked to name talented people, we might conjure up images of those whose talent has brought them fame, such as Michael Jordan (athlete), Itzhak Perlman (musician), Walter Cronkite (newscaster), Meryl Streep (actress), and Mother Theresa (humanitarian). But don’t let those names fool or intimidate you: everyone has talents. However, not everyone uses their talents. Why not? Here are half a dozen reasons:

  1. They truly don’t recognize their gifts.

  2. They’re afraid of failure.

  3. They do not think their efforts are “good enough.”

  4. They think they’re too old to start something new. (It’s a good thing Grandma Moses didn’t think that way: she didn’t start painting till she was in her 70s.)

  5. They think their talents are of little or no consequence.

  6. They do not believe they can earn a living by sharing their talents – i.e., they need to keep their “day job” in order to make ends meet.

What’s wrong with these arguments? They are obstacles that prevent people from sharing their gifts with the world. To get beyond these barriers often requires courage – to take risks, to move into the unknown, to claim ownership of one’s true talents.

Having the courage of your talent means that in spite of your fears, in spite of your self-doubt, and in spite of what others may have said to you along the way, you embrace fully the gifts you have been given. It means that even though the thought of sharing and living your dreams may be scary because they are so far removed from who you are, or who others think you are, or what you are doing right now, you step into the opportunity that has been given to you by virtue of your talents. It means that you take the risk that others will find something wrong with your efforts – because some will. But you persevere because there will be many more who see the value you provide. And you fuel your courage with the knowledge, deep down, that you are not living your life fully unless you take the leap of faith needed to get past all the “What if…?” questions that have held you back.

Having the courage of your talent means taking a deep breath and unleashing the power that comes from fully embracing your innate gifts and abilities. Perhaps in doing so you will discover a facet of yourself that you may not have seen before – yet somehow you know has been there all along.

Do you have the courage of your talent? If not, what is holding you back? Life is short. What are you waiting for?

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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