How to build on your talents

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Understanding what your talents are helps determine where to put your focus and emotional energy, and can help you to live a life of purpose by using your natural strengths. 

Here’s 4 ways you can take your talents to the next level:

Know your strengths

Think of talent as a head-start. If you’ve got a talent for languages, learning Italian is probably going to come easier to you than it may do for other people. And things that we're good at are often the things we enjoy, because it’s easier to see the rewards for our effort and it doesn’t feel as much like hard work.

Having a talent for something doesn’t mean you've instantly mastered it, or that you immediately know all there is to know. You can still work hard - however the work you put in will maximise your efforts. By knowing your strengths, you can decide where to put your focus.

Reframe your focus

It’s natural to compare yourself to other people. It’s also a trap. You are a unique blend of talents and skills - nobody else is quite like you! When you compare yourself with others, you often pick an instance of you at your worst and someone else at their best. That’s not going to be a fair comparison, and is only going to make you unhappy.

Instead of focusing on your faults, turn your attention to your strengths. Often, what you might think of as a weakness may actually be related to a strength you might not have realised - for instance, if you struggle to make small talk at parties, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a talent for talking - it could simply indicate that you do better at connecting one on one with close friends, which is a talent in itself.

Try new things

If you never try something, you’ll never know if you like it or if it’s something that you would have enjoyed. You may currently be totally unaware of an activity, hobby or career that you would excel at, because you’ve never given it a go. That’s not to say you have to try everything - but keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Learn to take a compliment

This can be a real struggle! When someone says something positive about us, our first reaction can sometimes be to brush it off or to deflect it with a joke. Learn to accept a compliment and actually listen to what is being said. Sometimes other people will notice our talents before we do, and by considering their feedback, you might identify a talent you didn’t know you had.

Reflection

Make a list of 5 of your top talents. These are the areas in which you really excel - whether it’s sports, interpersonal skills, a hobby or an aspect of your career. If you’re struggling to think of what your top talents might be, think about what your friends might say if they were describing you. Sometimes we have a blind spot when it comes to identifying the positive things about ourselves. If I asked you to write down your faults, chances are your list would fill up much more quickly. We’re often critical of ourselves, and take for granted the things that we're good at. So switch up your mental script and focus on your best qualities instead. That’s a much more positive mindset and will encourage you to pursue your talents rather than being caught up by your perceived faults.

Challenge

Identify one area you’re talented in that you haven’t been using lately, or that you'd like to do more of. What’s one action you can take this week that'll give you a chance to utilise that skill or ability? Make sure the action you select is practical and specific enough.

Now - write it down. “This week, I will …”

Follow through on your plan, and pay attention to how you feel when you give yourself the opportunity to utilise that talent. Chances are, it’ll feel pretty great! Then think about how you can create more opportunities to keep using that talent so that you can continue to develop it and give your best. Have fun!

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