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Your Talents

Lesson 2 on "Connecting the many pieces of the puzzle of you" is about your talents. Now, before we go on with Talents - check with yourself to see how easy or how difficult it was for you to come up with 15-20 "I am… statements". If it was difficult, be sure and work on further developing your "I am… statements" so that you are able to be your own advocate whenever it's needed.

As you move on and consider that besides being interesting, you are also an extraordinarily complex and unique person. Many pieces contribute to what makes you who you are. Either consciously or unconsciously you continually make an impact on others, on your organization, on your world all day, every day.

Why do you enjoy doing the things that you do? Let's start with that. Understanding more about your talents will provide you with an answer to that question.

Talents are defined as the recurring patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviors that are productive and positively applied to your life.

Talents are:

  • Innate: They appear to be natural, almost inborn.

  • They're Instinctive: They're automatic and many times unconscious.

  • They're Recurring: They become habitual and persistent.

  • They're Enduring: They're long-term as if they are a permanent part of you.

  • And, they are Productive: They are applied positively in your life.

Your talents are so natural and come so easily to you that they appear as simple and common activities – something you believe anyone is capable of doing. Yet, they're not. You may even say, "It's so easy. Doesn't everybody do it this way?" No. They don't.

You perform your talents so well you aren't even aware of your unique ability to think, feel, or behave that way. That is why we want to bring them to consciousness. You actually get a natural high out of performing your talents well. It's the personal and internal satisfaction you feel when you know you did something to your personal specifications.

Marcus Buckingham is one of the researchers who worked on understanding talents. In his book "Now, Discover Your Strengths", he clearly describes the importance of identifying and working from your talents. He believes that talents are hard-wired as synaptic connections where nerve cells meet in your brain. It helps to understand the way our brain works in creating your talents.

So, let's briefly explore how talents and your neural connections work together.

Recurring patterns are created by the synapses in your brain. Now, a synapse is a connection between two brain cells. The brain cells or neurons allow the cells to communicate with each other.

The synaptic connections in your brain create your talents. Your brain literally becomes hard-wired by these connections and produces your unique and almost automatic talents.

The reason talents are important to understand is your talents become part of who you are and how you operate in your world of work, or, in just about any project or activity. Your talents develop into your default position and you automatically gravitate to accomplish what you do through reverting to these unconscious competencies.

Talents do not determine if you are able to do something or not do it in your life. You have choices and you can orchestrate your behavior. When faced with choices, however, your brain follows the path of least resistance, and it defaults to your talents. You actually have to consciously choose another way to do something because the default is what you consistently gravitate towards. It's your automatic response when you take on almost any project. Talents are not taught, and they are very difficult to change.

You have developed your talents over the years. Talents easily become habitual and they endure over time as a part of who you are. Knowing and claiming your talents is extremely important because they are so valuable and beneficial to you.

Think: I am successful at this project because I apply my talent of/or my talent in/or, my talent for… You just fill in the blanks.

Your talents are usually something that you are passionate about, you enjoy doing, and accomplish doing with seemingly little effort.

You are intimately familiar with your talents. The problem is they are hiding in plain sight. It is important for you to surface your talents and consciously decide if they work for you, or not. Or, if you want to enhance them, or even start focusing on completely unrelated skills. Now, we are going to talk about the difference between skills and talents in our next lesson.

Certain clues exist that you can follow to recognize your talents. Consider the following clues to help you know what your talents are.

First of all, what happens is you have a spontaneous reaction. It's your immediate response to a situation, your first thought when something happens, your top-of-the-mind reaction.

Next, you have yearnings. Now, it's a considerable pull or longing you have to do something. It's like a childhood interest that seems to be hard-wired in you. Your yearnings are strong connections that act like a magnet drawing you back time and again as you long to engage in them. You may not have acted on these yearnings before because of either social or financial pressures or something else that prevented you from doing so.

Then, there's rapid learning. It's something that sparks the talent later in life perhaps. It's the speed that you learn a new skill. This rapid learning provides a big clue to the talent's presence and its power because the learning is so quick.

Finally, there's satisfaction. Now, that's when you are engaged in what you perceive as positive activities. You feel productive when you perform the activity, and you experience a sense of pride when you're engaged in using that talent.

Now, are you able to identify your talents? You might have to think about it for a little bit. Are you able to come up with words and phrases that express those things that recur frequently and are so easy for you to perform? Pause and consider key descriptors that describe your talents.

Once you have some clarity around what your innate talents are, it's beneficial for you to check out your skillset patterns. Now, everyone has these patterns, yet few people think them through. Your skills are what we will be exploring next in Lesson 3.

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Written by

Sylvia Gaffney, PhD