Use Your Special Talent

“Effort without talent is a depressing situation. . . but talent without effort is a tragedy.” Coach Mike Ditka

The first game is close.  Very exciting.  Back and forth. Our team finally wins.  In the second game, we really take charge. The final score is lopsided. There are really good players on both sides. And both teams made some amazing plays. The effort was evident.  The second win preserved the series victory.  My granddaughter, Luci, is a member of the volley ball team being coached by her mother, my daughter Kelly. It is a joyful moment after the game.

Maybe, because of my past coaching experience, I cannot help thinking about what made the difference. Why did one team win? There were good players on both sides. Both coaches seemed to have coached their teams well. Both teams had a great spirit.  You could sense the competition. It was fun to watch. But, at the end of the two games, our team was victorious. Was there a difference?

Yes. This old basketball coach came up with one distinction that mattered. Our team had several players who had learned how to effectively serve the ball. Not just a good serve, but what I would call an excellent serve. For that age group of girls, the serves by these few players were well above the average. And, because of that fact, these girls often won three or more points in a row. A streak if you want to call it that.  On one occasion, I counted five points in a row. In a 25-point game, those five points represent 20 percent of the needed score to win.

This noticeable distinction made a difference in the score. A difference in winning.

How can I use what I witnessed in my granddaughter’s volleyball game that can help us all succeed? Is there a valuable lesson, a takeaway from the game?  And you already know the answer. Yes.

What is your difference maker in life? Do you have a crucial factor? Yes, you do, even if you have not yet noticed or have yet to employ it. You have a five-point streak capability in your hands. Right now. At this very moment. Are you using it? Daily?  To toss our streak strength into a closet, only to be energized on special occasions, or once a month, makes absolutely no sense at all.  Why would anyone set aside a 20 percent advantage? To not use our talent every single day is illogical.  I hope that is not the case for you. Or me. But, we should investigate. Because any 5-point streak strength needs to be used regularly.

Think about this for just a moment: Imagine a coach who would relegate to the bench for the entire game one of the best servers in the league.  What if that coach did it for two entire games while in the process of losing the series? Does that make sense? If you were a fan in the stands and knew this fact, you would be upset. You would be asking these questions: ‘Why is our coach putting our best server on the bench the entire game? Does he not know how good a server she is? Does he not know that we could win the game with her abilities? What is the matter with him? Waste a 20 percent advantage?’ Could any of these questions be asked of us? What talent do we possess that is underutilized? Or worse, not used at all?

In the same fashion as the volley ball coach, it does not make sense for you to set your own strength on the bench not to be used in the game of life. And, to miss one day, matters.  But to miss day, after day, after day?  Sad. Truly sad. But, there are some individuals who will waste a large part of their lives without ever doing what they were meant to do in the first place. And that sadness then becomes a tragedy.

The strength finder group of books by the Gallup Company shares some powerful, insightful wisdom. We all have strengths.  You could say we are born with them. And, among our talents, there is likely to be one that is our best. One where we are close to perfect in our ability. And, if our main strength represents a talent for which we have great passion, then we have a difference maker in life. Just like those girls on Luci’s volleyball team who, in addition to loving the sport, also had a special talent for serving the ball.

Here is the really good news. You can get better in that one special talent. Study and practice will help. Getting a good coach, as these girls had, also can make a difference. Keep in mind that you can discover a life coach in a good book or even by reading this newsletter.

The first step is to recognize the gift we already have. Have you done that? And, if you have, are you currently using your talent to the fullest? If you were aware each day of a skill that would enhance your possibility of scoring major points, why would you not determine to cultivate that special talent?   If you have not yet recognized your talent, there is no time to waste.

A few recommendations for those who are still searching for their core strength:

  1. Read one of the strength series of books by one of the Gallup Company authors. I suggest Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
  2. Ask close friends or relatives to identify your talents. My process is to just ask someone to identify my top three strengths. Do this with a few people and a couple of descriptions will emerge, and one may be your core strength.
  3. I am so passionate about this topic that I dedicated a chapter in my new book, The BET, to help others venture into a journey of discovery and change to determine their special talent and then to use it. Read Chapter Six of The BET and follow the instructions.
  4. Spend some quiet reflective time. Here are some questions to ponder: What do I most like to do? If money was not an issue, and I could choose anything, what would I be doing today? What am I best at doing? Hobbies count in our answer.

Using my talent and what I also love,

Today I will . . .

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