Yes, I know it has been a while since you have heard from me and I do apologize profusely for this. I am still here, still standing, still working hard and still embracing all that life has been throwing at me. If I can be completely honest with you, in recent times, I have been struggling to tap into what I once considered to be my natural gift of the use of words. My motivation to write was still very much there, I simply could not get the words out my head and onto my digital notepad. Thankfully, God has a way of bringing us right back to our core so that we can continue to fulfill our God-given purpose, so here I am.
The dilemma I faced (writer’s block) set me thinking as to why it is so important to make time for and to prioritize developing our natural talents. These are the gifts that God has granted us and I strongly believe that we have a duty and obligation first to ourselves, by making room in our lives for the things that offer us a sense of greater fulfillment and secondly, to share these gifts with the world.
Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review (2018) suggested that “Experts have long encouraged people to “play to their strengths, to flex their strongest muscle. She stated from her observations, this is easier said than done. Not because it’s hard to identify what we’re good at but because we often undervalue what we inherently do well.”
Often times our superpowers are things we do effortlessly, almost like breathing. Whether it be writing, speaking to inspiring others, baking, decorating, creating, you name it; once it comes natural or easy to you, you should take pride in your gift and seek to use it well and use it often.
Your Natural Talents Are Yours To Own
I don’t really see myself as the traditional executive and this is probably what has led me to have such an active social media presence. My love for and commitment to making the time to share my knowledge, experiences and, life lessons to help others to grow is something I remain extremely passionate about.
I was recently nominated for and won the award for “Motivational Speaker of The Year” under our local Wuh Gine On Annual Awards. Truth be told, the nomination alone really woke up something that had started to sleep inside of me. While I have been sharing consistently across my social media channels, my pledge to write and share at least one professional development article a month was falling by the wayside. Undeniably, while I have been deep in work assignments along with traversing all that life has been throwing at me, I can’t really use either of these as an excuse for not writing because while the desire was there, the discipline is what was lacking.
We have all heard the saying, “if you don’t use it, you will lose it” and boy is this the truth. As a perfect example, I used to be really good at Microsoft Excel with all the fancy formulas until one day I had to call a team member to help me through one of the most basic formulas. The same holds true for our natural talents. The only way to continue developing and nurturing these skills to the point of maximizing our potential is to exercise “discipline” and “consistency”. Two personal attributes that happen to be a part of a winner’s growth strategy.
Quite frankly, even though I have been in leadership for almost 20 years now, I am not sure that I am a natural born leader. I would like to think and my track record would suggest that I am good at leading others, yet over time this is a skill that I had to be intentional to invest in to develop further and just happen to be fortunate enough to put my learnings into practice. Thankfully, my love for people and seeing people win at life made leading come so much easier.
The reality however, is that I had to work to shape this particular skill with a significant degree of effort. In contrast, I was always able to pick up a pen and start to write and create a flow or theme that most times made sense to others. Hopefully this analogy helps you to distinguish what I classify to be natural talents.
Stop Sleeping On Yourself
In December last year, I delivered the featured presentation for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados. I spoke on the importance of “Putting Your Dreams To The Test” to a room of seasoned accounting professionals and new members. I could see the audience locked in and faces intrigued at the thought of how they could balance their career choice, while making room to explore their personal passions. Things they always wanted to pursue or were good at and wished they had the time to explore further.
Why is this even relevant you may ask? Way too many of us seem to put ourselves in a box or allow ourselves to be placed in a box by others and never live to explore our natural talents. I reminded the audience that there is no rule book that says you can’t pursue your corporate life, while exploring your other passions. The real challenge comes down to commitment, prioritization, time management and discipline.
I marvel at all the businesses that I have seen blossom during the pandemic. People really tapped into their natural talents, mainly to address the financial constraints being faced or the reality of boredom. Whatever the reason, for the first time many people discovered what they were truly good at, enjoyed doing and even their untapped potential to increase their income.
Of course, along comes the reality of juggling work commitments with your personal passions. Truth is, companies also have a real opportunity to serve the personal passions of their employees, while still achieving organization-wide goals as this can lead to greater team camaraderie, employee satisfaction, productivity levels and brand equity.
Your commitment to developing your talent also improves your level of excellence, opening doors you never thought imaginable. Take my nomination for Motivational Speaker Of The Year, which was indeed a pleasant surprise to me. Regardless of the outcome, in my mind I had already won. My objective to inspire and favorably impact others is being widely recognized and that’s more than I can ask for.
My advice is to always make room for your natural gifts! These talents are yours to own and wear as a badge of honor, to be leveraged as part of your superpowers. Use them wisely and as often as you can as they show diversity and help to shape your identity, showing the world just how gifted you truly are. The reality is that once you have a willingness to develop your natural gifts and talents, new opportunities will emerge that stretch your capacity, forcing you outside of your comfort zone, propelling both your personal and professional growth.