I hate the word talent. Folks use it with good intentions, but it bothers me when I stop to think about what it really means. It bothers me on a couple levels, actually. For one, it makes it sound like whatever I created came from some gift I was born with. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as I’ll explain in a bit. The bigger concern is that they are subconsciously saying, “Wow, this is amazing. I wish I could do that, but I’m not talented.” Both are untrue, and I’m going to set the record straight today!
The only gifts I was born with was the ability to fill my diaper 4-5 times a day and violently spit up on people. Sound familiar? We’re all tiny, squalling sacks of flesh when we evacuate the Mothership with no ability or even inclination to draw or write or take photos. All we’re capable of is pooping and eating and bawling. Most of us eventually move to do more with our lives.
Let’s imagine a teenage boy prodigy golfer. Let’s call him Cheetah Forrest. (This is definitely NOT about Tiger Woods!). He’s an amazing athlete. He drives the ball a hundred yards further than anyone who has ever lived and sinks putts with his eyes closed. He’s amazing. He’ll never want for anything as long as he doesn’t do something incredibly stupid to lose all of his sponsors.
By all accounts, he’s incredibly talented. He was born with the gift of golf. Right? Well, before you nod like a bobble head on the dash of a ’69 Beetle, think about this.
What kind of life do you think that young man had? Do you think he was able to be lazy on weekends, play video games, and go to the movies with friends like other teens? I’d bet not. I’d bet young Cheetah spent countless hours practicing his swing, keeping fit, thinking, breathing, and living golf. When he missed a putt, he didn’t throw down is club and pick up another sport. He PERSEVERED. He learned from his mistakes, moved forward, and got better.
Perhaps the initial interest in golf was something Cheetah was born with. Maybe we can consider that a gift. But its obvious that it took a great deal of work to get to the level he’s at. Many want to be a top golfer like Cheetah, but very few are willing to dedicate themselves and make the sacrifices he has.
That’s my story, too. I’m not into golf, but I am into creating things. If I have any gift or talent, it’s only this overwhelming desire to create. When I picked up a pencil, I didn’t know how to draw. I made marks that didn’t measure up to my intention. This is where most people give up. I didn’t. I practiced millions of hours. I PERSEVERED.
The same goes for everything I do that’s viewed as talent. I sacrificed things that others wouldn’t to pursue my interests and achieve my goals. Hell, I didn’t even get my first kiss till I was out of high school! Trust me. It was a real struggle avoiding all those puckered lips, but I did it! (there were no puckered lips...)
Every single dayI I’m STILL sacrificing and putting in the hard work needed to improve! It never ends.
I can swallow my pride an accept the talent thing as the compliment it’s meant to be. What I can’t accept is the stumbling block that talent puts in the lives of so many people, preventing them from pursuing something that may be so fulfilling.
Have you been inspired by someone? Maybe they created an amazing work of art or sang a song so beautifully that you pictured yourself doing the same. Remember that wonderful feeling you had when you imagined yourself in their place? Too soon after, the high comes crashing down when those little words BUT YOU’RE NOT TALENTED bounces around your noggin. Or even worse, someone told you that (don’t ever let me hear someone say that. They’ll find out how talented a boxer I am!).
You fell victim to the myth.
You can do it. If you work hard and sacrifice time spent on things that you normally enjoy doing, you can do anything. You may never fully achieve the same level of accomplishment as your inspiration, but that’s to be expected. Everyone must give something, but a few are able to give everything to pursue their dreams. Every time you hit a wall and persevere, you’ll get better. Each victory is its own reward, and you’ll find nothing more fulfilling in your life. I promise you that.