Working With Talent
Reflecting on this post, I was reminded of the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-25) where two of the servants who were given talents (in this case referred to money, but can also mean time, abilities, status) worked promptly, with perseverance, with success and were able to give an account for their actions which was well received and their reward was great.
When we think about talent in the context of careers, talent is defined as a natural aptitude or skill, an inner quality that emerges effortlessly. Another word for aptitude is gift. Skill can also mean an acquired ability, learned with effort. Everyone has a talent, for some it hasn’t been discovered. For others, it is a hobby or interest, not a career path. There is this infamous saying – if you are passionate about your work then you haven’t worked a day in your life. I believe that this is our goal in life, to merge passion and purpose into your work.
From the perspective of recruitment, talent acquisition primarily refers to attracting and recruiting skilled employees. It has a more strategic approach, as these roles are sometimes hard to fill. I have learned that not only is talent hard to come by but also talent is a gift, an obvious blessing but also a huge responsibility. And talented people have their fair share of struggles. Being talented doesn’t mean they are perfect or have it all figured out. On the contrary, they have to deal with enormous pressure, especially mentally and this is where confidence plays a big part.
The road to success is not straightforward, it applies to everyone including those with talent. My upbringing was traditional in the sense that there was a specific route I had to follow - complete my formal education, pursue higher education, secure a well-paid job and start a family. This thinking had nothing to do with talent. Talent can become a problem when your talent is not aligned to traditional job roles. This is exacerbated by other factors such as:
• Access to a good education, extra curricular activities & career opportunities related to your talent
• Whether or not your parents laid a solid foundation and support your goals, even if its not what they envisioned for you
• Favourable socio-economic conditions which are stable and secure
From what I have gathered from conversations with talented candidates it takes longer to get to where they are now or want to be. Most have had to work odd menial jobs, internships, volunteer work in addition to university studies. They might have received some career guidance or coaching to help them persevere, push through the setbacks. But the goal is always clear, they have spent a considerable amount of time studying a specialist degree, invested all their spare time into learning more about their chosen field and cannot turn back.
Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.
I’m reminded of this quote because that’s exactly what I am searching for but also learned through coaching, recognising talent and hard work and what it means to me:
• Talent that is equally matched to ‘can do’ attitude with humility, of course.
• Talent that speaks about a person’s character, integrity and ambition.
• Talent that has been through seasons of adversity, including rejection and disappointment.
• Talent that is not willing to give up, because they didn’t come this far to give up.
• Talent that is not about their socio-economic status or family, but about self-belief and professional pride.
• Talent that recognises the talent pool is fast becoming a lake, competition is stiff and growing, so what makes them special or standout?
• Talent that seizes any opportunity to develop professionally takes up a coach, mentor or trusted advisor for guidance, moral support and encouragement because this journey is long and oftentimes, lonely.
Someone once said, talent is a gift that you have inherited naturally. It is what you do with it that matters. Going back to the parable of the talents, the third servant’s account shows that he didn’t think, he didn’t work, he didn’t even try and he made excuses, and consequently received far worse than he started with.
As a coach, I believe that who you have in your life matters and has a great deal to do with the outcomes of your choices. Some dreams take years to fulfil. There are so many speed bumps, detours, potholes and end of the road experiences. There are some who will encourage you to persevere and others who encourage you to quit before it gets really rough ahead.
Parents are instrumental in this aspect. What they have to say and do carries so much weight. From my own experience, supporting my son’s sporting goals can be challenging when I lack knowledge in sports or sporting performance. I have learned to simply be supportive, it is not an easy road or path he has chosen. I do not need to make it any more difficult. I focus on what he has learned along the way, to manage his time, to develop the right mindset, to overcome failure, to grow in confidence.
I am learning to project the right vibes, to exemplify an attitude to work hard and to serve my purpose well, to utilize my gifts and talents for a greater good.
Bad company corrupts good character.
There is an abundance of messages today that highlights the need to check your circle or to protect your peace as part of mental health awareness. Talented people have a high level of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Having the right counsel is crucial to their career progression. They might have all the answers to their questions but need some clarity and direction to guide them. After all, they are their worst critics.
Recently, I have been coaching a young talented creative who helped me gain a deeper appreciation for their journeys but also a new perspective on talent, which I shared above. Its not enough to just have talent, it requires humility, persistence, determination and the ability to learn all the time. But the reward is beyond measure, its literally stepping into your purpose and being a real inspiration to many.
So what is your talent? And what are you doing about it?
Hope you’re using it to your full potential. Thank you for reading.
God bless you all.