I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

The Talent Crutch

Mic­a­heal Mis­tret­ta has been at it again. Anoth­er excel­lent post this time about The Myth of Tal­ent which brought to mind a les­son I learned back when I was 16 doing my GCSE’s.

I have a tal­ent, you have a tal­ent, every­one has a tal­ent. A lot of peo­ple don’t believe they have one, or sim­ply haven’t found it yet, but we all have a tal­ent. I’m for­tu­nate in that from an ear­ly age it was appar­ent I could draw, that I had a nat­ur­al cre­ative flair. I used to draw a lot, but my draw­ings weren’t always obser­va­tion­al, the major­i­ty of them were designs. I’d design foot­ball kits, cars, robots and machines, what­ev­er came to mind I’d design it. It’s what I did, it was how I was known.

But it’s not always been a good thing, and near­ly led to a big, big slip up when I was doing my GCSE’s. Hav­ing gone through most of school, par­tic­u­lar­ly ear­ly senior school, being told I was very tal­ent­ed and just need­ed to be kept inter­est­ed in art I devel­oped a reliance on my nat­ur­al abil­i­ties. I’d look around, see I was doing bet­ter than those in my class and think I was ok. That was until a phone call from my Mum to my art teacher revealed I was­n’t doing enough. Yes I was doing more than a lot of oth­ers, but it still was­n’t enough. I was using my tal­ent as a crutch.

Peo­ple use tal­ent as a crutch — an excuse: “I couldn’t pos­si­bly do such and such because I’m nowhere near as tal­ent­ed as so and so.” Sure, it’s easy to believe that it’s not your fault you aren’t good at some­thing, sim­ply because you weren’t grant­ed that ‘tal­ent’ at birth.

In a sim­i­lar way I was using my tal­ent as a crutch. Not as an excuse to not try some­thing, but as an excuse to say “I’m nat­u­ral­ly good at this, I don’t need to work as hard as every­one else”. My aware­ness of my nat­ur­al abil­i­ty, or tal­ent if you will, was my crutch. It caused me to be too relaxed and too con­fi­dent. Know­ing you can do some­thing does­n’t mean you don’t have to do it.

Tal­ent is poten­tial. It is worth noth­ing if you don’t do any­thing with it. Telling me that you have tal­ent is absolute­ly worth­less unless you’re the kind of per­son that’s going to do some­thing about it… Becom­ing good at some­thing takes a lot more than just tal­ent. It takes hard work — pure, unbi­ased, hard work.

Some­thing I learnt that day when I came home to be told I was fail­ing. I still remem­ber that feel­ing. At first an incred­u­lous dis­be­lief, “I can’t be, it’s what I’m good at.” Then a hor­ri­ble sink­ing feel­ing as the real­i­sa­tion set in. I need­ed that GCSE to do what I’m doing now, if I did­n’t get it I had no idea what I would do.

Being told that I was fail­ing at some­thing I was nat­u­ral­ly gift­ed at was crush­ing, but I need­ed to be told. It start­ed a process which I’ve been doing ever since, work­ing at improv­ing my tal­ent. In 6 months I turned my GCSE around, I passed and it meant I could move on to even­tu­al­ly work as a pro­fes­sion­al cre­ative. It’s been hard, and some­times I’ve not been as good at it as I have at oth­ers, but that les­son has stayed with me and doubt­less will nev­er leave. It may be par­tial­ly to blame why I don’t always believe I’m as good as I am, some­thing I’m often told, but it’s some­thing that makes me strive to be better.

I have three peo­ple to thank for help­ing me learn that les­son. My Mum for mak­ing that phone call then cou­pled with my Dad for encour­ag­ing me, and God for giv­ing me par­ents who want the best for me. After all He gave me my nat­ur­al gift­ing and I was squan­der­ing it, not using it for the pur­pose He intend­ed. Rest­ing on my lau­rels was­n’t going to glo­ri­fy Him, so He prompt­ed them to make me realise what was happening.

To this day I believe I’m very for­tu­nate to have known I was nat­u­ral­ly good at some­thing from such a young age, many peo­ple after almost an entire life­time still don’t know what they are nat­u­ral­ly good at. I am for­ev­er thank­ful that I knew, but I’m even more thank­ful that I have a God on my side who wants the best for me. For that rea­son I try my hard­est to ensure all I do is for His glo­ry, with­out Him I would­n’t be doing some­thing I love for a living.