What has so many people fascinated (including myself) with Susan Boyle’s story? For me, Susan is a reminder that talents are given to all of us—not just the beautiful in-crowd. She gives us back our dream that we can still become who were meant to be.
My personal talent hunt has been similar to the Hot/Cold game we used to play as kids. That’s the game where someone hides an object and the rest of the group tries to find it. As the kids walk around the room, the only clues given by the leader are “You’re freezing (wrong way), you’re cold (getting closer)…or you’re warm, hot, boiling hot” until the object is uncovered.
Several of my talents I discovered ‘way back in childhood but like many of you, I set them aside to be more realistic, get a paying job, or spend time with my family. Other gifts were more elusive. They were right there in plain sight, but I didn’t acknowledge them or understand their importance.
Looking back the jobs I enjoyed the most was when I was able to use my talents. But one memorable “freezing cold” job was back in the 80’s–when I accepted a position as Manager of Compensation and Benefits. I was excited about finally getting out of the non-profit world and getting a 30% increase in salary. At the time, I thought it was fascinating I landed that position—because I considered it my weakest area.
While I learned a lot about compensation and benefits and got really good at analyzing job descriptions—there wasn’t enough opportunity to be creative and there was little variety or personal interaction for me. I ran from that job as quickly as I could—18 months later.
Several years later, I found myself in a (“freezing cold”) work environment that just didn’t fit. I convinced myself that if I was determined enough, I could adjust to anything. Despite my valiant attempts to just suck it up and deal with it (I was making a lot of money), my body screamed until I heard it. After bouts of depression, anxiety and some uncomfortable intestinal issues, I finally paid attention.
Fast forward to today–my life is completely different now. Today, I can hardly tell where work leaves off and spare time begins. Once I discovered what I loved, what I was most proud of and enjoyed, I was able to find a way to incorporate them in my life—some as my work; some for fun.
If you struggle to get through each day—pay attention; because passion = energy. When you find something you love to do, your face lights up, you move fast and talk even faster. If this doesn’t describe you (yet), then maybe you can learn from my experiences of how I dug up my treasures and incorporated them into my life.
Play it again. “Mom, you’re really good.” I’ll never forget my daughters shocked faces when they heard me play the piano for the first time. My daughters were in their 20’s and they had never heard me play. I hadn’t played in 25 years.
After finally buying a piano when I was in my later 50’s, I was humbled to realize just how much I had forgotten. Years ago I considered becoming a music teacher. Now I literally had to start from the beginning. After several months of lessons, my fingers found their own memory. (It’s amazing how that happens.)
Feeling frustrated, there were many times I beat myself up–thinking about all the wonderful pieces I could no longer play. Why did I let my talent sit dormant for such a long time? I snapped out of my perfectionist tendencies and considered, “Exactly what do I want from my music?”
The answer was that I wanted to play the songs that spoke to my heart. I didn’t want to be a professional musician any more; I didn’t want to practice for hours and hours. I discovered that playing the piano again eased the stress of the day and gave me a lot of joy when I mastered a new piece.
Jane, the Rock Star. I had long forgotten that I wanted to be a Rock star when I was a kid– until Lin, my coach, asked me about my childhood dreams. “Where is she headed with that?” I wondered. But there it was—a vision of me standing on the stage and looking down at the audience.
Frankly, if I measured my piano talent next to my voice, the piano would always win hands down (excuse the pun). But I find it fascinating that I never fantasized myself at a keyboard on the stage–it was always standing up at a microphone.
What could I learn from that exploration? Well, I still dream about standing on stage with a microphone–only now it’s speaking. Instead of songs, I am helping others by sharing what I’ve learned and encouraging others to follow their dreams.
When time stands still. I wrote my first book when I was twelve (I wished I saved it just for laughs). Perhaps that’s when my dream of becoming an author began. It would bubble up occasionally in my life but usually I convinced myself that it was enough to be good at writing company newsletters and business correspondence.
Once I became a Coach, I found that sharing the many lessons I had in my life helped others recognize they were not alone and was an inspiration to folks. Writing became my communication vehicle of choice. Many times I become so absorbed in my writing that I lose track of time. And, I WILL write that book !
Jane the Builder. Perhaps this one should have jumped out at me—but it was the last pieces I “got” how important it was to me. I started my career as a Kindergarten teacher. I loved the creativity, singing, art, getting so much pleasure from watching the kids learn and grow. Then, all through my human resources career while I did a bit of everything, my true passion was management and employee development. Why then, did it take me so long to realize the theme throughout my life?
The symphony. Putting my pieces together didn’t happen easily, quickly or by following a systematic process. My talents and skills have gradually been brought back into my life through a series of “ah-has and duhs.” Just as the various instruments in an orchestra blend together to make a beautiful piece, I am finally feeling I am authentic and free to be me.
So, what about you? Do you have talents that you buried because you had to go to work, felt you were too old, didn’t have enough time, weren’t good enough, or were out of shape, etc.? Which ones could put some joy back into your life and/or work? Can’t do it now? Then develop a plan for the future.