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The Twin Elephants of Talent and Skill

I love computers! I was fascinated with them from the first time I set eyes on one. I took that as a sign that I might be a good computer programmer. I tried it. REALLY tried. But the Peter Principle quickly kicked in. I "rose to the level of my own incompetence." It became abundantly clear to me that I simply...don't...have...the...right...kind...of...brain! We've all done that, at one time or another. We've gone, "Ooh, shiny!" But discovered that no amount of effort or study was going to make us great in that area, because our minds weren't tuned to that frequency.


The Elephants in the Room


The loudest and most strident shouts of "You Can Do Anything!" success coaches in the world can't drown out the reality that, if you don't have talent in an area, and the drive to develop that talent, you can't...you won't...succeed.



Elephant #1: Talent


It's a harsh reality (but also a blessing of God, I think) that we're not all made to do the same things. Educators, philosophers, and success mavens serve people poorly when they preach that we can all "do anything you set your mind to." That's nonsense. We're all wired differently.. Some will naturally be marvelous potters, some jet pilots, some amazingly nurturing parents. We discover our talents by doing and trying, and importantly, by being honest with ourselves. If, after giving it a solid try, we fail, it's time to shrug it off and move on. Trying to cram ourselves into a profession or a pursuit for which we're not properly wired will result in permanent disillusionment and wasted years.


Sometimes, you may find a side path, though, while probing and trying your talents. I followed the "ooh, shiny" path of radio DJ work, and discovered I wasn't suited for that because my ability to ad lib wasn't fast enough. Still isn't. You hear it in my somewhat hesitant speech in "Studio Takes" sometimes. At this point, I've acquired enough knowledge to carry me through in my videos and podcasts, but I'll never be a glib, fast talker. Never!


Fortunately, during my 20 years in radio, I did find a part of that career, nearly right away, that suited me fine. I loved doing commercials. I could put a lot into them. I could tap into creativity that flowed naturally. I could write them, I could record them, I could produce them. I could do different styles of voice. When it came to voicing commercials, I was like a baby bird who needed only a nudge from the nest to be able to fly. It was something absolutely instinctive. That's what each of us needs to find.


Elephant #2: Skill


If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to offer something exceptionally professional. To me, to be professional means that you stand out so much in an area that, in that area, you are unique and special...so much so that the average person on the street scratches their head and wonders how what you do is even possible. It's the way I look at people who can paint portraits, which the average Joe can only gape at in wonder. They've developed their skills in the area of their natural talent, to the awe and amazement of the general populous.


As entrepreneurs, it's not enough to say, "ooh, shiny" and chase after something that seems glamorous. Through trial and error, you need to determine what comes naturally, and then develop SKILLS in that area. Not just basic skills, but marketable skills that make you stand apart enough to be hired over others who's offerings aren't quite as attractive as yours.. That only comes through study, and especially, through lots and lots of practice. And then, only if the engine driving them is true TALENT in that area.