Managing personal talent, how to get the best out of your skills?
Talent not only comes from the factory; we can all enhance it with work, perseverance and attitude to make it the motor of our life and the formula for achieving success.
We live in a changing world in which digitalization and technology have transformed the way we see life, where jobs have become more unstable and where companies compete to have the best ideas, which can be as valuable as oil. To survive successfully in this context full of difficulties, personal talent can be the most effective weapon. Managing talent allows the development of creativity, the creation of ideas, and is a valuable competitive advantage in the workplace.
The belief that talent is something innate and that if you are not born with it there is nothing to be done about it is not entirely true. According to the American psychologist and researcher Anders Ericsson, talent as aptitude is the ability to perform a task, and we can all develop it to a greater or lesser extent with discipline, perseverance and much practice.
Ed Sheeran, the British singer who now heads all the charts, was not a good singer when he was a child. And the Sevilian painter Diego Velázquez was not born a prodigy, but polished his artistic qualities through time and learning, as the contract signed by his father, Juan Rodríguez de Silva, with Velázquez's mentor, Francisco Pacheco, shows.
Passion is the flame that lights talent
Far from being simple, developing personal talent requires a change of attitude, goals and routine. An action plan has to be defined with realistic objectives, because no transformation happens if the need to turn the page is not greater than resistance to change. According to Dan Coyle, an expert in talent management and author of the book The Keys to Talent, the starting point has to be the passion that is lit with the desire to grow in your profession and achieve what you want. At the end of the day, when a person does what he loves, he does not think of his professional work as a job, timetables cease to exist and he does not hate Mondays.
However, not all of us come into the world knowing what we want to do in each of our days. To find that passion that drives routine, the important thing is to be curious and stay active, try as many activities as we can 24 hours a day. Even if you work in an office or an agency, try to take time to watch a film, to cook or to paint.
There is no rush to find what you really like: once any person, at any age, finds the environment in which they move best and where they can best develop their personal skills, the individual is inspired to reach excellence and the learning process is faster. The key is to find the form of expression that makes your personal characteristics shine. Working on something that does not excite us can be the fertile ground that germinates that desire for change that encourages us to continue growing.
"Talent as aptitude is the ability to perform a task, and we can all develop it to a greater or lesser extent with discipline, perseverance and much practice"
A question of attitude
It has happened to many of us. The company organises an event with a well-known athlete, with a media figure or a successful businessman, who gives us an inspiring talk on how to overcome obstacles. You leave happy and motivated. You have noted down all the advice: try harder, go out with friends at least once a week, be proactive ... But, once back to reality, the theory is not so easy and the enthusiasm with which you left the conference hall only lasts until the next early morning.
Finding our true passion can also take years, and meanwhile, the bills continue arriving and the alarm continues ringing every morning to go to work. But this does not mean that we cannot take advantage of this time to develop our talent. Our satisfaction does not depend so much on our colleagues, on our work or on our boss, as on our attitude towards each circumstance.
It is not about changing our attitude overnight, or about wearing a forced smile at all times. The important thing is to always seek the balance between routine and what is new, learning and habit, curiosity and practice, and see each error as an opportunity to dare to evolve. When faced with a bigger problem, instead of giving up ask yourself what you can do, what you are going to learn and what benefits continuing to fight will bring you.
Excellence comes through learning
Some researchers and experts in the study of the nature of talent like Bill Chase, Anders Ericsson and Herbert Simon agree that to develop excellence in any field - music, sports, mathematics, etc. - you have to practice intensely for around ten years. Even Rafa Nadal, number one in world tennis, began to practice when he was just a child, to make history years later with his 75 titles.
The ten-year, or decade, rule implies that all skills can be reinforced. However, in progressing throughout these ten years and not getting stuck in the attempt, attitude remains the key: in equal conditions, the most non-conformist people, those more willing to learn and practise, develop their potential.
Moreover, when attitude and talent connect with the will to work with effort, they form an unstoppable trident that leads to the formula of success. In the words of Ericsson, "there is no type of cell that the geniuses possess that the rest of us do not have, the difference is to work harder than the others"