Existential Psychology

Appreciate Your Natural Talents

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Some of us discount the things that come easy to us and are only really proud of  the things that take a lot of hard work. While it’s quite healthy to take pride in those achievements where we have confronted and overcome challenges, one of the hidden dangers is that when we take our natural talents as a given we sometimes leave them as is, devoting all our time and energy to those areas where we feel we are lacking.

This mentality is deeply ingrained in most of us because of our schooling, where there was a certain common bar to achieve in each subject during the school year, and reaching it was the goal. But in terms of self-actualization the setup doesn’t make a lot of sense; as adults we know it’s impossible to be an expert in everything, the best you could hope for is to be a jack of all trades where you’re pretty good in many areas but don’t achieve excellence in any of them. To achieve excellence you need to get much higher than the common bar.

Better to appreciate your natural talents, devoting your time and energy to building upon your innate aptitudes. Reaching mastery in anything is a long, arduous upward climb regardless of your potential, but why not give yourself an assist by starting an ascent that requires your inbuilt advantages?

The big mistake people make is seeing their talents as static. They think they’re already good in some area so that’s that. But we are in a constant state of becoming if we choose to be, and we have no idea what our talents will turn into down the road if we just keep going. Every show and movie featuring a superhero respects this fact. The superhero has to develop his superpowers. He doesn’t really know what he has at first. It’s just raw material. What he can do with his power is already amazing but nothing compared to his potential. Think if the superhero stopped right at the beginning, deciding “Well, this superpower is already good to go. I guess I’ll devote my time elsewhere.” He would never find out the extent of what he had on his hands.

All of us are the exact same way, and if we can move our thinking to view our talents as on a continuum rather than as static entities, we feel motivated to devote our energies to developing them. Whether you think your natural talents come from God, the universe, your ancestors, or anywhere else, they are a precious gift unique to you, and leaving them alone is taking this gift out of the box and then promptly setting it aside without giving it another thought.