Finding Your Talent

Talent isn’t a destination. It's an ongoing exploration and commitment.

Posted Mar 19, 2012

Writing gives me a great deal of pleasure. Reading what you have to say, however, gives me a great deal more. I can't tell you how inspiring it is to hear about your incredible experiences and journeys.

One recent note, a response to "You Are Not Your Talent" really moved me and got me thinking. And with Brittany's kind permission, I'd like to share it—and her—with you.

"I read your article 'You Are Not Your Talent' on psychologytoday.com and quite honestly, I have never felt so liberated in my life as to hear your wise and true words. I've been worried a lot lately about finding my talent and have often felt sad and less interesting as compared to those who had a talent. After I read what you said, I just realized: 'What have I got to worry about? I am a damn good person and just because there isn't something I can dedicate myself to right now, it doesn't make me any less of a person. And I'm still 16!' I am also coming to realize that there are so many things that I can do in my life; the possibilities are endless and just because I might not ever get into some impressive school or be able to perform in a crowd like a rock star, I can still make an impact on the world in my own special way. My feelings just overwhelmed me so much, I just felt like I needed to share it with you :) Thank you for doing what you do."

Brittany is clearly an amazing young woman. And she is absolutely right that she can make an impact on the world no matter where she goes, no matter what she chooses to pursue.

Yet I offered something to Brittany that I'd also like to share with you. She—as well as every one of us—do have something we can dedicate ourselves to right now, whether or not we've "found our talent"...our lives!

In our culture, it is so easy to think that being talented—or popular, or famous, or rich—is an end goal. We are conditioned to believe that they are destinations to which all roads hopefully lead; that their achievement is what makes a person interesting, influential, and special.

That is not the case.

Life is what we make it, whatever we make it. And what is important—what matters-—is up to each of us. The problem is that we are raised with so many cultural ideas of what should be important—including which talents truly matter—that most of us are out of touch with what might make us happy and provide us with our own sense of meaning, as well as how to go about finding it.

In my experience, the best approach is to dedicate yourself to being the best that you can be. Not just when you're trying on various "talents" or striving for "success," but in every minute of every day. When you choose to give everything you have, whether you're auditioning, smiling at a homeless person on the street, applying to college, or being kind to someone at school or work who feels lonely, you will start to recognize how powerful, versatile, and yes—talented—you really are.

What does kindness have to do with talent? What, might Brittany ask, does smiling have to do with being famous or getting into a great college? Everything. Because why we do things is as important—if not more—than what we do.

Talent, riches, and fame will never result in your feeling worthy or fulfilled so long as you relate to them as things that verify or validate you.  And if you only give your 100% when you think it "matters" in this way—when these things appear to be on the line—your experience of life will be anything but full or fully lived.

However, when you recognize that your uniqueness and preciousness are birthrights...that they are talents of their own...then going to school may be to enjoy the process of learning and to get excited about how you might participate in the world. Performing may function as a platform to express your joy and to help other people experience theirs.

And there's something else. When you create and pursue your goals for these reasons, it becomes much easier to achieve them. As a matter of fact, when you are no longer attached to their ego-related significance, the "elusive" aims of fame, influence, and wealth become the virtually inevitable results of whatever efforts you are engaged in.

Why? Because when you are passionate about being the best you can be and making a difference—rather than negotiating with your insecurities—you'll do whatever it takes to get into a great school. When you recognize that you have an opportunity to bring happiness to people who are hungry for it—rather than validate your pride—nothing will stop you from getting on that stage and becoming as well known as possible. The voices of fear, self-doubt, and uncertainty will no longer be able to slow you down, because you know you are up to something bigger and much more important than wanting to be "talented." You're expressing your talents, and yourself, every day, in every interaction, and in every moment.  

Thank you Brittany once again for sharing your thoughts and for leading this important conversation. I'm honored to know you and can't wait to see how you will continue to touch and contribute to the world!


Click here to learn more about my book: The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice.