What are you good at?Feb 21, 2022
Skill and talent are often used interchangeably but actually refer to two distinct types of abilities.
A talent is an innate ability, naturally acquired and available to a few people. On the other hand, skills are learned abilities that can be taught and are available to many people.
To access and leverage talent, it helps to recognize it. It's hard to leverage a strength you aren't aware of.
And many talents can be learned skills. Whether we are natural-born singers or not, most of us can learn to sing and learn to sing well with practice and coaching.
Most of our educational and occupational systems are built upon a generalized skill development model and don't explore or exploit an individual's talents.
How unfortunate. What richness of experience and contribution are we missing out on by not answering the question, "What are you good at?"
Like many, I spent my young and young adult life building skills that my schooling and jobs required me to learn. It wasn't until I heeded my inner voice's call to investigate my talents that I was able to begin dialing in the difference only I can make.
Here are 3 practices and tools I used that I encourage you to consider if you're ready to discover what you're naturally good at.
- Reflect - Think back to your childhood. What did you find joy in? What activities did you get completely lost in?
Some of my earliest memories are around drawing and coloring, making up songs, creating adventures with my cowboy and military figure sets, listening to my grandparents tell stories of their childhood, and long excursions in the woods.
Reflecting on these memories reconnected me with my love of writing, storytelling, and solitude.
- Inventory - Connect with friends and family and ask them to share what they see as your top talents. Colleagues and peers at work and in your social circles can illuminate, as can more recent connections and even relative strangers.
My peers in the altMBA saw my potential as a coach long before I considered or embraced the idea. Had I not paid attention and relented to their insight, I would have missed out on a vocation that brings me joy and prosperity.
- Assess - There are numerous tools for testing and surveying your talents. This article by Seth Godin may shine a light, and this free survey can help.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been around for decades (I remember taking it in high school). More recently, I found insights in taking Gallup's Clifton Strengths Assessment. Many also find tools like the Enneagram helpful.
The critical thing about unpacking what you're good at isn't merely the discovery. Like values, talents' power and utility come from exercising and employing them daily.
So, what are you good at? How are you amplifying and leveraging your talents to deliver the difference only you can make?
Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose.
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