Mar 16, 2011

Hidden gems

Below is a blog post I put up at work about finding your hidden talents.  Still searching for mine.  Next on my list is breeding elite racing guinea pigs or trying my hand at competitive whistling.  There must be something I'm good at!

Mining gems

Hide not your talents, they for use were made.  What’s a sundial in the shade? – Benjamin Franklin

Every person is born with golden nuggets of natural talent.  A special skill, ability or quality that enables regular people to accomplish great things.  But some have yet to unearth their talent.  It remains buried, like a gem, waiting to be discovered.

Excavating gems is simple in theory, but requires bravery and diligence in execution.  It mostly involves trying new exploits until you brush off the corner of a submerged jewel. 
Attend a class, volunteer to help build a home, acquire a skill, try something that’s been on your mind for a long time.  You must be willing to step into the ring and tolerate failure.  It’s worth it.

Fear of flopping, self doubt, indifference, hankering to hover in the comfort zone, excuses, embarrassment and an unwillingness to try new things.  Each of these has caused me to drop the shovel and slow the dig.   

It may take years to uproot the bounty, but continue dredging.

Kurt Warner was nearly 30 when he entered the NFL.
Rodney Dangerfield 40 when he started acting.
Mary Fontenot 50 when she wrote her first of 30 children’s books.
Colonel Sanders 60 when he franchised fried breasts.
Oscar Swahn 70 when he silvered in Olympic shooting.
Ronald Reagan nearly 80 when he wound down his presidency. 

Once you’ve pulled up a prized chunk, don’t neglect…

Polishing gems

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.  – Steve Prefontaine

Sometimes we are good at something, but not great.  Perhaps a confidence shot – a realization that a tough barrier can be cracked – is enough to help us step up to the next level.

Running records have been tracked since the 1850s.  A legion of sinewy legs labored in vain to bust the 4-minute mile barrier for a century.  Some thought it could never be done, that humans lacked the lung capacity to hold a 15 mph pace for that distance. 

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister kicked through the world’s first 3:59 mile. 

It took 100 years to run that first sub 4-minute mile.    

Just 46 days later, John Landy clipped a 3:58 mile to better the world record.  The floodgates lifted; once athletes realized the impossible was possible, clumps of runners broke the 4-minute barrier.

Have you invested the time to hone your talents?  It’s difficult.  Dishes need washed and oil changed and kids with sore ears taken to the doctor.  Life gets in the way.  But do your best to carve out quiet time to optimize your talents. 
Once a gem is polished, the fun part is…

Sharing gems

Use what talents you possess.  The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. – Henry Van Dyke

Talent may be burnished to crystal, yet we’ve been unable to find an outlet to share or sell the gem. 

A shift in approach, change of audience or minor tweak might be enough to sell it.  Other times, stubbornness and brute repetition gets the job done.

A gifted young scribe had not yet hit it big.  He sought a company to publish his book, sending query letters to 25 literary agents to snag a representative.  Agent rejection letters piled; they’d never heard of this writer and felt his work missed the mark.  A no-name agent inadvertently came across his submission mixed among her rejection slush pile.  She liked his novel and sprayed the manuscript to a couple dozen publishers.  Time Warner offered Nicholas Sparks $1 million.  The Notebook was published and climbed to the New York Times best seller list within a week.

Everybody possesses hidden gems.  Tucked away is a gifted mentor, cook, singer, knitter, mechanic, fencer, writer, comedian, musician, teacher, bull rider, gardener, coach, dancer, sandwich artist, runner, handyman or volunteer. 

Are you willing to get dirty and begin the dig?  Do you have the patience to polish the gem?  Are you persistent in sharing the prize?

What hidden gems have you dug up?  Have you tackled fear, taken a chance, accidentally discovered a knack or tried something new and smiled at the outcome?  If so, please share by leaving a Comment.

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