Talent is (still) overrated

And I guess it always will be. I’ve always backed the original argument because I personally know countless professionals who’ve managed to achieve success by sheer hard work. They would never consider themselves to be talented. Arguably though.

There’s the thing — talent is your potential. And that isn’t enough. You need to convert your talents into strengths, which only comes through experience.

One of my friends recently mentioned that her company is looking for a talented graphic designer. That piqued my interest (as you can imagine) and I asked her what she means by “talented.” She clarified she meant someone who is highly creative and has strong conceptual knowledge of the industry she’s in.

While I didn’t argue with her then, I would like to clarify a couple of things here:

  1. Creativity isn’t a talent. It’s a skill. Anyone can be creative. We just need to know how and where to look.
  2. As professionals, we have to know the difference between talent and skills.

That said, both talent and skills can be honed. Some people are natural communicators but that doesn’t mean someone else cannot be as good a communicator. They definitely can be if they know how and where to look. And communication can be both a talent and a skill.

Of course, like everything else, application matters. If you’re not able to apply what you have in the real world, I’m not quite sure how valuable you will be for the business or the problem at hand. So, irrespective of your talents you have to figure out a way to convert them into strengths.

And how do you convert these talents into strengths? By applying them in real life. Exposing yourself to challenges that are important to businesses and making yourself more valuable as you gain experience. I wish I could hand out a shortcut but there isn’t.

Figuring out what you’re talented in is the first step. There are numerous psychometric assessments (I think Gallup Strengths Finder is the best) out there for you to try. Some of them are even free! (Though I don’t think they give you enough context to play with, it’s a good start nevertheless.) Build a plan of action based on a solid understanding of who you really are.

But always remember this: Talent doesn’t mean a fig if you can’t implement.

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