Can We Pick Our Talents? | Community Insight

geekawardImage courtesy of Dave Bullock

There’s a lot of talk about being what you want to be and following your dreams, etc…  Much of these ideas are based upon the assumed flexibility of our own skill-set.  That we are somehow capable of gaining a God given ability even when God never gave it to us.

Let’s face it; we are all naturally good at certain things and naturally not so good at others.  Whether we have always had a knack at certain physical actions or maybe our minds can’t help but understand the commonly misunderstood, we are born with gifts that are specific to our bodies and minds.  But what if we desire to do or be something that doesn’t fall into our natural abilities?  Is this a waste of time?  Are we throwing away our gifts?  Maybe we are unhappy with the hand we’ve been dealt?

I have many passions and many dreams for my future and the future of my family.  Sometimes these visions of tomorrow don’t exactly match up with my natural talents and I find that the pursuit of these personal goals become much more labored and usually end with disappointment.  I’m not implying that we should never move outside our comfort zones or reach beyond those things that easily come to us, but I’m wondering if we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we don’t take into account those things we do best.

Being bored with our abilities.

A common issue I find with humanity is that we tend to tire of those things we do well.  This is often the result of doing nothing BUT those things that come naturally to us.  Maybe we are great at our current job because it is filled with tasks that pull from our talents.  By result of repetition we begin to resent the fact that we are always pulled in a particular direction, as if we have a sign on our backs that says, “I’m good at this, please force me to do it OVER and OVER!”

As a naturally techie type I find myself with my hands on someones keyboard more often than I’d prefer to admit.  I can be ANYWHERE and have someone, in the middle of a relaxing conversation, bust out with, “Oh, so you work on computers?  I have this problem with my blah, blah, blah…”  (It all starts to sound like the grownups talking in the Peanuts cartoons.)  At first you feel important and needed, but later you start to feel like an object, being used for what it can do for the other person, not what it is as an individual.

Growing appreciation for what we’ve been given.

Recently I have transitioned away from being the local computer geek to pursue other things.  It’s been a great experience and I have found new talents that I never knew existed, but even online I’ve naturally fallen into the role of the local computer guy.  At first I found this to be disappointing.  Being at the digital dinner table, deep in conversation, only to end up helping out with a technical problem, I found that my natural role had followed me into the cloud.

This ended up not being such a bad thing.  The fact is, I truly enjoy working with technology and helping people at the same time.  As with any natural ability, when utilizing our talents we feel like we are doing what we were made to do because we ARE.  What I found helpful, though, was to make some adjustments to my place as a geek.  Not only do I excel at tech, but I have an eye for design and enjoy utilizing my creativity.  Once I added this right brained activity to the mix I suddenly felt my passion for 1’s and 0’s come rushing back, but now with a fresh new flavor.  Not only have I come to appreciate what I’ve been given, but I realize my place that seems to follow me no matter where I go and what I do.

What are your thoughts?

Do you ever feel pigeonholed by your talents?  Do you wish you had been given different abilities?  Are you currently utilizing your gifts or are you trying to swim against the tide by working in areas that don’t naturally suit you?  How do feel about your talents?  Are you appreciative or resentful?



  1. says

    Eric, interesting article and it makes sense. Do I feel pigeonholed with my talents? Absolutely. When I left the military I was leading a department with 130 men and women and was responsible for equipment worth millions and had responsibilities few people get. Now I sit in a grey cubicle working on something I’m good at but boring. I work for people that don’t have half the leadership experience I do.

    I think I have good talents but don’t think their utlized right now. That could be either my fault (because I don’t go full-time on my own with my talents) or because I need to accept that I’m no longer the leader of the team.

    Something I’m kind of struggling with right now is defining my passion.

  2. says

    I find the way to get around the boredom that comes with my daily job, which I’m good at, is to always have something else going on. The blogs I write for, my hobbies, exercise, time spent with the family. All of this distracts and keeps me from getting bored.

    One thing Be 4 Success allows me to do is write on subjects that I’m knowledgeable on due to my work. However the blog medium lets me go beyond working directly with a client and go deeper into the subject matter. That helps keep it fresh, that’s when I am challenged. That’s how I maintain my sanity and keep from getting bored.

  3. says

    Boy, did this article hit home! My husband is a techie too. No matter where we go, if we get introduced to someone and they find out what he does, we soon hear something like this, “Oh, you work on computers? My sound isn’t working. Can you just take ONE MINUTE to look at it?” But it never takes one minute, does it?

    He even gets requests like, “Don’t you just have an extra monitor/mouse/keyboard/soundcard/RAM/DVD Drive lying around that I can use?” As if he is a one man free computer supply store. My husband too feels like an object because of his talent.

    I don’t know if you have experienced this, but it seems as if everyone expects him to do everything for free. He tried charging once for his side jobs that people ask him to do, but our “friends” would get so offended. Plus, every computer problem someone has is always a “right now” emergency. If he can’t make it to their house right away, then they start complaining amongst themselves–“It’s been two days since I asked him to get over here and look at my software glitch, but he hasn’t come yet!”

    I guess I am more annoyed by my husband’s talent than he is!

    Randi’s last blog post..I’m Not Insane; I’m Just Paranoid Part 2

  4. says

    “Do you wish you had been given different abilities?”

    If anything, I question whether I push my talents as far as they can go in contrast to resenting not having talents in other areas.

    I’m grateful for the talents I have.

    Hell, I wear a crown when I sit on the can… I’m a pretty proud guy.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended’s last blog post..Clowns are Downright Creepy

  5. says

    Great topic Eric. To answer the question posed in the title: no, I don’t think people can pick their talents. Hopefully, in childhood, we were given the opportunity to try lots of different things like sports, music, cub scouts, until we find something we are good at. Some people tend to be good at multiple things while other people really excel in only one or two small niches.

    But I find there are people that, whether they have a passion for it or not, are just not talented in certain areas.

    The key is to find what you’re talented at, learn to love it, learn to make money with it, and learn to keep it fresh. Once you can do that, you’re set!

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy’s last blog post..Never Stop Learning: An Interview With Bryce Whitty Of

  6. says

    Hi Eric, interesting topic.

    I think whoever said “jack of all trades, master of none” was talking about me. I’ve come to realise that my particular talent is that I don’t actually have one LOL but rather that I can turn my hand to many different things and do a bit of everything.

    I had ADD as a kid and found that I could never focus on one thing long enough to master it, but could pick up the basics concepts behind many different subjects.

    Then when I got into the world of administrative work, I realised that something I’d always been told was a curse was actually a blessing as being an “all rounder” is generally seen as a good thing.

    I’m not sure if you can pick your talents, but I do think with the right amount of focus (and support from parents, school etc.) you can develop an aptitude for a subject into mastery of it.

  7. says

    Interesting question. I think my talents amount to being overly analytical and being a feel pidgeon-holed only in the sense that when it comes to doing something in person, I’m not as adept at it as I am in writing. So I pretty much feel out of my element in attempting public speaking of any sort, and even in normal conversations.

    I would say that being an officer in band is helping this. You have to communicate clearly about playing the music and focusing on marching and connecting with the other members of the band for more effective practices. It’s a real chance to stop, think about what I have to say, and try to say it without sounding unsure of myself.

    I think that you can become great at anything if you have the passion for it. Certainly, there might be some things which we simply do not have the ability to undertake, however, through working hard I think you can become competent at the things you want to learn, and go from there.

  8. says

    I toyed with this very thought about 2 years ago on whether or not I was in the right role. I was struggling at work and just wanted to go back to the computer geek who fixed problems for users. I went out to breakfast one day and told my boss I was spent, I didn’t see the potential to expand my skills in the role I was in, and I wanted to go back to what I knew and was comfortable doing. I agreed to stay in my current role until my boss found my replacement.

    My boss was very accommodating and wanted to keep me, regardless of my role. After that meeting, a huge burden was lifted. All of sudden, I discovered skills I thought I never had because I had no pressure on me, since my role would be changing soon.

    You know what, I got really good at that role I had been dreading and after 3 months, my boss came to me and said “are you sure you want to go back?”

    …that was 3.5 years ago and I am still in that role I was trying to leave. If I had “gone back”, I think my talents would have been wasted…I would have never been anything more than “that computer guy.”

    I am grateful I had the chance to see both sides.

  9. Eric Hamm says

    @Corey: There’s no doubt that if we push ourselves in ANY direction we will become more competent in it.

    @Greg: You bring up a great point, Greg. Often times the pressure to perform can affect our ability to perform well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled at something ONLY because I felt the heavy hand of expectation weighing on my shoulder. Even things that on my own I can do in my sleep. Eric

  10. Mary C. says

    I kind of wish I could have been a violinist instead of an artist. When you play the violin, you have a violin and a bow and some music. When you’re an artist, you have scads of materials! I have major problems with clutter!!! LOL!

    So, yeah, I would have chosen something that would make my life simpler and more zen-like!

  11. Emily Greene says

    I know its good to be grateful for whatever natural advantages (talents) that one has, but honestly – I do wish that I was more talented in singing. It can be very difficult and problematic, having a natural talent that you just are not as interested in rather than in another talent which inspires you. I disagree with what another posted said about “Deal with what you are given and use them”. The problem is though, when you are not interested in something (that you have naturally), you should never force yourself to devote your attention to it. In my opinion, sometimes in life, there are some other talents that we find more rewarding and spiritual than whatever talents we have acquired naturally.

    There is is an saying, “There is nothing worse than having nothing to do but waste your time with a natural but boring talent”.


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