by : Dave Anderson
If you listen to top executives in any industry discuss how to build their business you will inevitably hear them discuss the mandate to bring talented people into their organizations and then build around them. I discuss the importance of talent in my workshops as well. However, while talent is a great head start it isn’t any guarantee of success. As John Maxwell says in his new book, Talent is Never Enough: “Too many talented people who start with advantages over others lose that advantage because they rest on their talent instead of raising it. They assume that talent alone will keep them out front. They don’t realize the truth that if they merely wing it, others will fly past them. Talent is more common than they think. Mega-best-selling author Stephen King asserts, ‘talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.'”
Following are 10 tips concerning talent that will help you put this vital trait in its proper perspective, while it aids you in developing your own talent and the gifts of others.
1. Everyone has talent. People have equal value but not equal giftedness. Some have a multitude of talents and other fewer, but all of us have something we can do well. What is essential is that you place employees in a position where they can maximize their talent.
2. Develop the talent you have, not the one you want. You will never maximize your talent if you continue to spend too much time in areas where you are not naturally gifted. This doesn’t mean that you cannot get better in those areas; you’ll just never be great at them since excellence is impossible without talent.
3. Many things that are important to success do not require talent. Attributes like punctuality, effort, patience, and unselfishness, among other traits, are essential to success yet require no talent. Thus, talented people must realize that their talent is never enough. Without characteristics like those listed, they won’t have a prayer of reaching their potential.
4. Talent is enough to get your foot in the door, to get you noticed, and to offer you a head start. In the beginning, it separates you from the rest of the pack and gives you a head start over others. For that reason, natural talent is one of life’s greatest gifts. But the advantage only lasts a short time.
5. Anyone can make choices that will add value to talent. The key choices you make-apart from the natural talent you already have-will set you apart from others who have talent alone. These choices, among other things, include developing the discipline to develop your talent; building the character necessary to protect your talent; choosing the attitude necessary to maximize your talent; and believing in yourself enough so that you unleash your talent.
6. Relationships influence your talent. Nothing may influence your talent as much as the important relationships in your life. Surround yourself with people who add value to you and encourage you, and your talent will go in a positive direction. Spend time with people who constantly drain you, pull you in the wrong direction, or try to knock you down, and it will be almost impossible for your talent to take flight. To maximize your talent, determine (1) which relationship must you initiate; (2) which relationship you (3) which relationship you must distance yourself from; (4) and which relationship you must abandon must strengthen;.
7. Teachability expands your talent. If you are a highly talented person, you may have a tough time with teachability. Why? Because talented people often think they know it all, which makes it difficult for them to expand their talent. Change your attitude toward learning. Learning is energizing and gives you an edge. It changes your thoughts, which improve your actions, which edify your results. When you see learning in this light, you won’t be able to get enough of it!
8. Character protects your talent. Many talented people make it to the limelight, but the ones who have neglected to develop strong character rarely stay there long. Absence of strong character eventually topples talent because people are often tempted to take shortcuts. Accept that while many of your circumstances are beyond your control, your character development is not. Character is the sum total of your everyday choices. Thus, great character is built by making good choices, one choice at a time.
9. Focus directs your talent. Focus does not come naturally to us, yet it is essential for anyone wanting to make the most of his talent. Having talent without focus is like being an octopus on roller sakes. There’s plenty of movement but you don’t know in what direction it will be. Give up the things-and people-in your life that distract you and take your eyes off your dreams. Give up to go up – day in and day out. If you know that you have talent, and you are energetic and active but still don’t see measurable results, then lack of focus is likely your problem.
10. Teamwork multiplies your talent. In the movie Rocky, Rocky Balboa describes the relationship with his girlfriend, Adrian: “I got gaps. She’s got gaps. But together we’ve got no gaps.” What a great description of teamwork! It doesn’t matter how talented you may be-you have gaps. There are things you don’t do well. This is why if you want to do something big, you need a complimentary team to strengthen those areas. As a talented person working in your own talent zone and surrounded by team members doing the same, you will become more and accomplish more than you ever could on your own.
There are several other aspects that help launch and develop your talent: passion, practice, initiative and responsibility. But the 10 points listed should give you plenty to consider as you hire new people, develop those you already have on your payrolls and strive to reach your own personal potential.
Dave Anderson is president of LearnToLead, a sales and leadership training organization. He has an extensive automotive background and has spoken at NADA for eight consecutive years. He has written six books and has three more slated for release in the summer of 2007.