Tightrop walker - build a career on the talent that you have

Talent – the Golden Thread

Often we take for granted our talents yet they provide vital clues to how we can best build rewarding and successful careers

When developing a career, it is not enough just to dream. We need to act and put in the hard work. It helps to use our talent too.

Talent is a word so often bandied about in relation to show business and to competitive sports, the arts and the boardroom. The existence of talent agencies and talent brokers give us the clue that it is a precious resource that commands a price.

We talk about talent in others. We admire it, we seek it and recruit it. We have entire departments devoted to its management. But when it comes to ourselves, we are often unaware of it.

The truth is we all have talent – a natural aptitude, a special gift or things we are good at. It’s just that many of us don’t recognise that talent or know how to harness it.

What comes naturally

In my experience, talent is nearly always taken for granted by the individual. We dismiss as ‘nothing special’ the things that come to us easily. It’s only when others around us – family, friends, teachers or work colleagues – recognise something as special and point it out to us that we begin to own it.

Perhaps this is because much of the emphasis in education is on knowledge and skills. Perversely, students may be directed away from things that are ‘too easy’ for them on the grounds that they are insufficiently demanding or challenging. And yet that facility with the things that are ‘too easy’ is a strong indicator of talent.

Often people think that talent is not relevant in the workplace. For some this is a conscious choice. They work to live and express their talent and create meaning in activities outside work – performing, playing, organising or family life.

Playing to Strengths

But for those set on building a career, working with their talent enables them to harness their passion, play to their strengths and so achieve more. However, that’s when the really hard work begins as any performer, athlete or artist will tell you – it takes grit, discipline, rigour and sheer determination to polish, perfect and make the most of our talents.

The vast majority of clients who come to me for career development advice feel they have unfulfilled potential. Most have already been successful but have a strong sense that there is something missing. Others want a career change, to do something they really love, but what?

The very first step will always be to identify what their core talent is and explore where that might lead. Then, the planning or steps to change direction begins.

We all do best what we enjoy the most. That light bulb moment when people realise their strengths, see how they can use those talents to best effect and are completely energised and bristling with excitement and potential is wonderful to behold.

Jo Ouston