Last night I went to dinner with an old friend. We had the most fascinting conversation about talents. While on vacation with her parents, they got to talking about talents, and her parents each offered what they view as her talents:
1. Getting things done
2. Managing things - not necessarily people, but managing different roles and responsibilities
At first we both agreed that these do not seem like talents at all. Everyone has to do stuff, and most people have a lot of roles to play. Talents are things like playing the piano, writing, or painting. As she talked it out with her parents, she started to see their point of view, and as we talked it out last night, I also agreed. Playing the piano, writing, and painting are creative talents. Those are great, and I am thoroughly jealous of people who have them. I do not possess one stinkin' creative bone in my body! But I am very much like my friend. We both multitask and manage our roles - working, home life, parenting, schedules, appointments, activities, etc - with relative ease, and we are very good at getting things done. At first I thought these were not talents because they seem more like an inherent part of my nature. However, as I thought about it more, I realized, these are skills I honed and continue to work on improving. They may not be talents I can sell like a painting, but they are talents that have great value to my job and my family. I regularly tell people I have no talents, but now I see that is not true.
I see people at work every day simply pushing things off to the side when they do not want to work on a project, or letting things slide because there is an issue they cannot work through easily. I do not. I keep a to do list on my desk and update it weekly (if not more often). My e-mail account is my organizational toolbox - every project is color coded, every e-mail I read and address gets filed in a folder. If I encounter a roadblock or an issue comes up, I will push through. I will not let things slip or be forgotten, and if I do get behind on something, I get anxious and stressed about it until I am back on track. I generally realize I am behind on stuff and have it rectified before anyone else even realizes there was a delay. This may sound conceited, like I am tooting my own horn, which I am, but it is not vain. I just never realized this was a talent I have, and not something everyone can do. With this knowledge, I am going to try and see people I work with differently. Perhaps their talents lie elsewhere. Obviously not being talented at getting things done is no excuse to slack off and I will still complain when things are not done, but I will use my talent to help others instead of looking down on them for being behind.
My ability to multitask is also something I did not see as much of a talent, but rather a necessity given the many roles I play. It is both. My husband also has many roles to play, but he does not multitask as well. I am going to try to relax a bit when he forgets something on the schedule and not be so angry that he cannot keep track of things the way I do. He has a lot of talents he brings to the marriage (most notably right now, the ability to fix stuff so we do not have to shell out tons of cash at the mechanic!), and I am going to focus on those positive things instead of being so negative.
Last night's conversation was very enlightening for me. I am excited to see things in a different light, and to realize that for once, I do not have to answer "I have nothing" when people start discussing talents!