Photo by Kyle Smith on Unsplash
By Gail Barker, B.A., C.P.C.C.
In the world of self-development, there is often a lot of talk about knowing and embracing your gifts. Those natural abilities and talents that you bring to the world? They are a source of power, strength, and identity. They are what make you, YOU.
I’ve learned over the years, however, that as much as these unique qualities may be appreciated by others, I myself may be blind to them. It’s as though their very “natural-ness” renders them invisible to me, the bearer of the gifts.
Take for example my ability to speak publicly. This is something that I do with relative confidence and ease in front of an audience of virtually any size. This ability isn’t one which I give a whole lot of consideration. It’s something I’ve always done, and always enjoyed doing. Sure, there have been times when I’ve blundered a bit (especially when I was younger and more focused on the judgments that might come my way), but because my ability to speak flows as easily as it does, it was decades before I saw this skill as unique in any way. It never occurred to me that others didn’t necessarily share that capacity until someone pointed it out. Their exact words were, “I wish I could learn to speak like you.” That stopped me in my tracks, because I just assumed everyone could.
In your case, you might be someone with a natural flair for writing. Perhaps you are a great listener.
Maybe you can teach complex subjects with ease. Your particular gift could be any one of a myriad of things — and, you might not be entirely appreciative of the value of the gift that you hold.
The thing about natural gifts and talents is they tend to sit in a bit of a blind spot. In light of this, it is quite possible to overlook the value of what it is we can truly offer the world, and because we overlook the value, we hold the gift back. We don’t share it as freely as we could. We don’t allow it to sit in the spotlight. We don’t give it airtime. Which is a crying shame, because our gifts are meant to be shared.
That being said, I want to issue two caveats. The first is this: one of the myths around our natural abilities is that our gifts are meant to be utilized as part of our professional identity or career. It’s time to lay waste to this idea. You might very well use your natural gift, talent, or capacity within your career. And you could just as easily share your gift as a hobby, or as a form of volunteerism. These ways of utilizing your gifts are just as valid as integrating gifts into your career path. When it comes to sharing what comes naturally to you, the gifts you hold, the strengths you harbor, it’s not about HOW you share them; instead, it’s all about the fact that you do.
The second caveat has to do with a misconception around the ease of a natural gift. Folks tend to think that a natural gift is one that doesn’t require you to work at it. There’s only a modicum of truth to this. Just because a skill comes naturally doesn’t mean that you can’t improve it, better it, hone it with some effort. Those with a gift for singing? The ones who choose to share it? They usually invest resources—time, money, energy—in enhancing that gift. Skilled athletes? The ones who end up making it professionally in some way? They practice and focus on their natural skills. In other words, no matter what your gift, you have a responsibility to HONE that gift, even as you share it.
Bottom-line: yes, you’ve got natural talents, and those talents are meant to be shared. Take the time to recognize those talents—those gifts—for what they are. Don’t take them for granted. Then take the time to develop that talent. When we each embrace, hone, and share the gifts that we own with the world, the world becomes a richer place for all.
Gail Barker is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. She specializes in supporting leaders to lead powerfully and meaningfully. Here company, Stellar Coaching & Consulting was established in 2003, and through that platform, she has supported hundreds of leaders in elevating their leadership game. A few of the additional hats she wears professionally are author, speaker, and radio show host. Personally, she is deeply committed to her family, loves to read, and finds deep restoration when walking along the beach (even in the winter).
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