Talent is…

“You are so talented!” Have you heard this before? Anyone with an outwardly apparent skill likely has, and certainly anyone in the arts. The fruits of the painter, the musician, the carpenter, the crafter, the decorator, the dancer, are always recognized as talent. A younger me would have nodded graciously in agreement at the compliment, “You’re so talented!” The older me, in the present, tends to feel the weight of such a phrase knowing the thousands of hours of study and practice that have gone into being able to play any sort of sound on my instrument, let alone something beautiful. Don’t get me wrong! I still receive such kind words with gratitude, yet I am undeniably too hard on myself. I see what I lack far too often, rather than what I have gained thus far.

Talent and hard work are inseparable. The best of friends.

I believe a ‘talented’ person is one who has learned how to effectively cultivate and polish any of the many desirable capabilities with which most of use are born but few of us nurture. –Marilyn Vos Savant

I love how Marilyn stated the above. Talent is learning how to cultivate, how to polish, how to love the natural tendencies we are born with. Talent takes work, focused effort. Talent is what we choose to nurture.

My discipline in studying violin, piano, and even teaching, has given me hands-on experience in how to go about cultivating the less tangible capabilities that are perhaps even more important than my violin in the process of becoming what I desire to be. Talents like the ability to empathize and comfort others, a sensitivity to spiritual things, a knack for learning languages, or relating well to people…there are too many to list. These aren’t things I am naturally good at.  These are things I want to be. Empathy takes practice.  Kindness and tolerance takes practice. Learning a language takes so much practice.

My violin practice has taught me how to work in other areas of my life.  Violin takes a plan of action, dedicated time in application, thinking through passages and phrases from all different angles, making mistakes over and over again, until the muscle memory is just right, AND the connection to the heart is in place.  It takes rehearsals and live performances regularly. My point is, once you learn how to discipline your practice in one area of life, those same principles apply to anything you desire to improve upon or become.

The truth is, YOU ARE SO TALENTED! You have already nurtured many skills across your life. You have all the tools and gifts to create true talent and ability. Start with what you want to become and focus your efforts on practicing those things, working through mistakes and failures, and recognizing progress.  I’ll say it again, talent is what we choose to nurture.   

…deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from eh same God.  And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them…And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ, and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. ” –Moroni 10:8, 17

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