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.