One parable that always comes to my mind when it comes to ‘talent’ is the parable told thousands of centuries ago. It is popularly called the parable of the talents. In this parable, a rich man, going on a journey, called three of his servants to share a couple of talents with them so they could make profit and also make good use of their time while he was away. To one – he gave five, another – two, and the last – one. The one with the five talents traded with his talents and got extra, same with the person with two. But the person with one? He went to bury his talent and probably went somewhere to play, avoiding the hard work that comes with refining and multiplying his talent.
After a while in a foreign land, the man – who gave out the talents – returned. He was elated with the two servants who traded profitably and wisely with their talent. The third of the three servants, who failed to use his talent in any way, had it taken from him and given to the one with five – so he could use the same skill he used to multiply the talent to multiply the new one.
This parable always reminds me that, to an extent, the principle for multiplying/refining our talents remains the same, though the means we take might be different. For any talent we possess as humans, the standard principle that turns the talent into gold (or multiplies it, as the case may be) is hard work, consistency, perseverance, patience, amidst some other virtues. Be it a singing or sowing talent, what adds value to our talent are the virtues above and more.
Most importantly, no matter how small what we have is, we can always make something great out of it with perseverance and patience. Things become popular and in-style because they are being used constantly. With the kind of jobs springing up in this day and age, one cannot afford to overlook any form of talent – no matter how small it may appear.
Life, I have discovered, is a journey. A journey with many twists and turns in which one thing we assume is just normal and ordinary can lead to something unique and extraordinary. Look at Oprah Winfrey and the path she took to where she is today, who would have thought that she would end up where she is now? She started as a little teenager who, on discovering she had a nice voice, decided to work probono in a radio house. Then, she landed a broadcasting job, then on to a show, then to her own show, and then a network.
One major thing that I believe draws us back is the instant need to gratify ourselves once we think we are good at something. No one is saying we should not ask for money for our services, but before then, spend some time refining the talent first instead of making money your sole goal in going into the service. It’s one of the reasons volunteering could be good for you. Volunteering helps you make good use of your gift, as well as refine it. In the process of rendering services, the not-so-good parts are corrected and if you happen to be someone that takes to correction, you’ll learn faster and become good at what you do.
No doubt, we want more, but until we begin to (enthusiastically) make use of the talent(s) we have now, we might not grow. One thing ex-president Barrack Obama loved doing was gaining knowledge. He kept at it every form he could (including reading good books). Over time, he translated the wisdom he gained from his readings to leadership, thereby gaining experiences that would lead him to the white house.
Our talents are mostly in two phases – the passive and the active phase. The passive phase is when we put our skills to work because we love/enjoy doing them. The active phase is actually transforming those skills into usable forms. For example, let’s say I love to sing, my passive phase would be me just singing because I love to. My active phase would me actually singing and turning it into a performance – or other tangible forms – over time. If our gifts and talents never leave the passive stage, we will always think we have nothing and we are not enough.
We are always enough! What validates the feeling is what we do with our lives, the other lives we impact and the fulfillment we find from doing what we truly love.
All this requires patience, perseverance, openness and humility.