Posts Tagged ‘ Business Skills ’

Talent Vs. Skills

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (as I have done for the last six or seven years or so), and the last book I read was a book on management styles.  It is apparently well-known among the country’s best managers (according to Gallup) that the happiest employees are ones who have been steered toward jobs that make use of their own natural talents, regardless of skills.  This got me thinking, “What’s the difference?”

I sat down and examined it, and realized that I have a lot of skills.  I have the skills to fix complicated machinery, and have learned the techniques that assure that I’ll do it well.  I have been keeping this blog for over six years, a professional one for one and a half, and I’ve kept private journals for over twelve now.  I have a commanding knowledge of the English language–and a larger-than-average vocabulary–because of it.  I have been a music student for over eighteen years, starting in 4th grade, when I picked up the Trumpet for the first time and learned to read notes and sheet music.  I have expanded my skills into playing a variety of horns, taught myself to play the guitar, and to a very minimal degree, the piano as well.  I also at some point taught myself to wrap a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue–mostly as a party trick.  But none of those are my talents.

My talents are few, but they are there.  One of the lesser talents that I have is a by-product of my skills as a music student:  I can take nearly any song on the radio, and learn it by ear on a guitar.  (Not reproduce it, but learn it.)  I also have the talent of determination to learn things on my own–I taught myself how to play the guitar, as well as how to snowboard.  Never took a lesson, just got out there and tried it until I got it.  I also have the natural ability to twist and manipulate images in my head–for example, if I have the chance to study a map of a route or an area, I have an unflappable sense of direction as I’m driving around ON that map, in that area.  Some people find that to be very difficult to do, but I can do it with relative ease.

The most obvious talent that I have, by far, is my talent for communicating with people that I don’t know.  I find genuine interest in talking with other people, finding out what makes them tick, what problems they have that I might be able to provide solutions for.  I am a naturally outgoing person.  One of my best friends saw me talking briefly with someone once at a party, and asked me how we knew each other.  When I told him we didn’t, he asked me sarcastically, “When’s her birthday?” and he was stunned when I knew the answer–it had come about over the natural course of the conversation, is all.  I have been looking for ways to inject a little bit more of my natural talents into my work…I’m sure that once I do, my career satisfaction will be through the roof!

Give it some thought, and tell me just what your skills are, and how they differ from your talents.  I’m fascinated to hear your answers!

PS–Try this on for size:  Is it a coincidence that the words “talent” and “latent” share the same letters in different configuration, and kind of refer to the same thing?  (That’s another talent I have for some reason–seeing patterns in word spellings.  Sort of like how “Words” is “Swords” without the “S,” and both can intimidate, defend, or kill.  Odd stuff like that–no idea where it comes from, it’s just there!)

Evolution

I’ve learned, fairly well, I think, that in order to achieve success, there needs to be a certain level of mentorship and mimicking of those who have done it already.  “Don’t take advice on how to get skinny from a 400 pound guy,” my Dad used to say.

This week, I’ve had my first taste of what is already beginning to be the heroin, the new love affair, the religion of my existence:  Golf.

I have a friend who came into town from the north for no other reason than to say hi to a couple of people, and play a lot of golf.  As my birthday fell on this past Saturday, my buddy decided to treat me to my first nine holes–but not after a solid, two-hours and probably three hundred swings at the driving range beforehand.  I shot a 65…on the front nine alone.  It really wasn’t as catastrophic as I’d imagined it being because once I had the mechanics of a basic, consistent swing, it was a matter of judging the distance and which club to use for the shot.  I still put up sevens and eights on every hole but one, but I did at least manage to clear the pond on hole six, and play the same ball for all nine holes.  I did alright with long drives, usually getting close to the green in two or three shots, but my chipping and putting game killed me.  Ah well, first time out.

I mentioned that to mention this.

As I was rolling along on the golf cart with my buddy, a lone thought kept creeping through my head:  “Major deals are done on golf courses.”  I think I have this image because of the genius marketing of TV, as I am a big fan of the show “Shark Tank,” and in the show’s opening, they show one of the venture capitalist investor guys shaking hands with another guy (presumably sealing a deal) on a golf course.  It seems to me that a lot of successful people play golf to blow off steam, and the fact that playing golf surrounds me with them in some cases is icing on the cake for a guy who has at the same time learned a love for a new hobby.

Golf is becoming metaphorical to me as well on several levels:  First, is the initial, maddeningly learning curve involved with a swing as unnatural as a golf swing is.  Obviously, as in life, practice will get you to whatever level you strive for.  Also, however, it forces you out of your own comfort zone in the same way that a big speech to a large crowd might:  That first time you get up to tee off in front of a bunch of people is a nerve-wracking time, and as time goes on you’re forced to adapt and try to excel so that you aren’t holding up your guys, or the guys behind you.  Still, at the end of the day, no matter how badly you stunk, you can do something new that you couldn’t do before.  That’s the key, of course, as waking up and going to your nine-to-five job each day and spending your weekends with your kids will never change your circumstances.  I know that I have to, or it won’t get done.

I’m on the right path–I’m reading, I’m networking when I can, I’m culitvating an eye for opportunities, and I think playing golf may be another vehicle or tool with which I can connect to someone, when the time is right.  After all, what good is the opportunity you aren’t prepared to take advantage of?  All I have to do now is get myself a house I can’t afford, a Constantin Vacheron watch, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom in the garage and I’ll be set…right?  *wink*

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