What are my talents, anyway?
What makes me good at some things and terrible at other things? Nature and Nurture both play a role. We aren’t born as blank slates, as conventionally thought. We each have a set of pre-existing hardwired talents. Although we have a capacity to learn knowledge from our culture and environmental surroundings, we are also born with distinct abilities and traits that make us unique.
Because our talents operate below our awareness, natural talents appear to be “hidden” to us. We aren’t consciously aware of why we’re naturally right or left-handed either, it’s just how we’re wired up. The good news is that behavioral genetics is unraveling the mystery locked in our DNA code and neuroscience is finding the same evidence in our brain circuits. Cognitively, our brain wiring is as unique as our fingerprint. Good career decisions are rooted in what comes most naturally to us—what we’re best at— and success comes with sustained and focus attention to developed our talents fully. Your natural talents will largely remain constant throughout life, maximizing your potential begins with discovering your talent profile and challenging your strengths most of the day.
We can’t significantly improve weaker talents, even with lots of practice. More education can’t change what you are. The trick is to play the hand of natural talents you’ve been dealt. Sure, with some effort we can “balance” our personalities by making small improvements to our weaknesses, and this is very helpful, but it should be a secondary goal. Career excellence comes with constant practice at what we do most naturally.
Mainstream wisdom sometimes fools us into thinking that the only the people with “real” talent are actors, artists and athletes. The good news is that everyone has natural talents, and many of us have an exceptional profile of natural abilities sitting idle. If you’re feeling bored, chances are your strongest abilities are eager to be engaged. Imagine the pent up energy of Chesapeake Bay Retriever that’s been cooped up indoors with no exercise. If you’re feeling trapped in the wrong career, maybe it’s time to set that puppy free.
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