First of all, let me differentiate between talent and skills. In my opinion, talent is what we’re born with (what we develop as a child) while skills are what we choose to learn. Ideally, our talents support the skills that we choose to learn. For example, the talent (diligence) supports the skill (playing guitar) quite well. I’m not entirely sure that there isn’t overlap, just to clarify. For example, diligence could be a skill as well as a talent because it is practiceable. However, I’m fairly sure that guitar playing is a skill and not a talent because no one starts off better than anyone else at playing guitar. That being said, one person might have the talent of tone recognition while another may be tone deaf. In this case, it would appear that the first person is more talented at the guitar when really they simply have supporting talents.
Today I started learning to code again. It’s like smashing my head against a brick wall while upside down hanging from a rope in a pool of molasses. Needless to say it’s slow going. But, as I learn each new thing, it becomes easier and easier. I really do enjoy the pain of learning it and I believe that it’s because my talents correspond with the skill. I have always loved to solve problems: this is a talent. I am creative: this is a talent (not to say it cannot be learned, because it certainly can be). These talents make learning to code fun for me because as I learn more, the tools in my kit begin to grow.
On the other hand, let’s talk about the skill of listening in groups by being silent. This one is incredibly difficult for me, but is not as painful as learning to code. In classes I am always the one whose hand is perpetually up, like Hermione. I have a lot to say and until I’m proven wrong by an argument that makes sense to me, I’m right. It might be arrogant of me but that’s how I am. The skill of listening in groups is not supported by my talents. My talents here are confidence, quick thinking, and my ability to deal with being wrong in front of others. The talents I am missing are patience and humility. This makes it very hard for me to sit back and watch, even if I could learn more by doing so. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with having the talents that I have, just like there’s nothing wrong about anyone’s unique talents. We are all different and have different talents. The key is to learn the skills that match our talents, and actually, better put, to not learn the skills that we think match our talents because they match other people’s talents. I look up to filmmakers like Sam Kolder and Sam Potter but I don’t think that I should learn to make film because my talents don’t match it. I don’t have the patience to sit and look into the minutia of details in every second of every video–it would destroy me. If I tried to become a skilled filmmaker, it would be much harder for me to do so than for someone whose talents matched this skill. For me to be the best version of me, I have to figure out what skills I genuinely enjoy doing because those are the ones that fit with who I am.
Additional thoughts: I’m pretty sure that most talents can be skills but I think that most skills cannot be talents. On the other hand, I might just be vastly misdefining and representing the word talent. Perhaps talent lies only in our genetics and not in our upbringings. It’s the classic false dichotomy of nature/nurture and I’m not sure that there is a clear answer.
Happy Hump Day,