Should we continually search for our special talents?

Aug 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Career advice

There is a saying “Everyone is good at something.” Do you believe it? Think for a minute and answer the question what are you good at? I am sure you can name a few things that you’ve accomplished or perhaps that you are a bit above average in certain things, but are you really good at it?

Perhaps it is supposed to make us feel good that we were all given a special talent, and if we discover what the talent is and develop it we can be a star in our chosen field. I used to think this was possible and all my failed attempts at different activities and professions were just learning experiences guiding me to my ultimate calling when I would become the best at something. Never happened.

No matter how good I was at something, there was always someone better. Even when I had that inner feeling of confidence that I was really good at something and would do very well at it, the truth came crushing in that although I may be a bit above average at something, I was not the best and if it was a competition not the winner. Although this sounds like whining or worse it is not it is just an observation.

Why does it matter? I think it matters because if we buy into the premise that everyone has a special talent, then we are doomed to failure when we go looking for it. How many times have you tried something new, found that you were not very good at it an gave up? Probably in the back of your mind you heard a little voice saying this may not be for you, and you head the voice and abandon any effort to get better at it. Or maybe even more you buy in to another idiom “practice makes perfect” and spend countless hours trying to develop a talent only to become mediocre at best?

What is my point? Perhaps a little recap on my golf game will illustrate my point that although we should strive to do our best at any endeavor we chose perhaps we should not be so hard on ourselves when we don’t achieve our intended goal of being the best!

When I was young in high school, In the military, and in college, I had several opportunities to learn to play golf. I met several people who were way above average at the game and volunteered to teach me. At the time I was not interested thinking I should be developing skills at more popular sports, one of which was tennis. I put a lot of effort into learning to play tennis and got to mediocre when it became apparent that it wasn’t my calling. Although I enjoyed playing tennis and won a few games I never advance beyond average at best. No Wimbledon for me. Now I was in my ;ate 30’s and decided I would try golf. It seemed to be the ideal social sport. And in my opinion it is a good sport for everyone regardless of age or skill level. But golf is certainly not one of my special talents. I have been playing on and off for almost 40 years and am not much better now than I was in my first year. So why do I continue to try something that I am not particularly good at? Because, even though I am usually at the bottom of the leader board I enjoy a lot about the game, and the people I meet playing golf. I would like to be better, and still pass up invitations to play some very prestigious golf courses because I think my game is an embarrassment. I shouldn’t most of those who invite know my skill level and if they invite me they must be willing to accept my mediocre play.   If I decided that golf was not my special talent and quit I would deny myself the fun of doing something that I enjoy. Do I get frustrated, you bet! Do I get kidded, sure I do. Am I ever going to win any trophies, perhaps in a team effort. But I will continue to play as long as I can for while it is certainly not my calling, I certainly not great or even good at it, and as my age creeps up my abilities fade even more, it is something that I want to do. And that is my answer to the question of should we spend our lives looking for an elusive mystical talent which if found will propel us to fame and fortune or should we realize that finding a niche that we are comfortable with and looking for opportunities to play the harder courses if presented is the way to climb the ladder of our success in life?

 

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