When asked about the difference between skills and talents, I have to admit that this can be a gray area.
Sometimes it’s hard to discern what we’re born with and naturally great at doing vs. what we’ve learned or improved upon over time. Often we can be given a talent that with additional skills makes us a beautiful force to be reckoned with!
When developing the myBrand Project courseware for clients, I was overwhelmed by distinguishing between the two. Then, one day, it just clicked.
God gave you talent.
You acquired skills through your life experiences and choices.
Together, they became your biggest strengths.
It’s not always easy to write down our strengths when we’re asked on the fly, so that’s why I developed an exercise for my clients that removes the guess work.
The Lifetime Line.
This week, you’ll have the chance to revisit your life since birth in this exercise.
Your life since birth.
Because in our experiences, we can find the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows – and it’s in these very moments that we were doing something that we were talented at doing, using a great skill or perhaps, the lack thereof…and in some cases, we might have been using a great skill, but were miserable.
Sometimes the work trajectory that makes us dissatisfied is because we may be great at something or we’re valued for a certain skill, but we aren’t passionate or fulfilled using it – and we’re not necessarily called to do so.
Or worse, we’re placed in a position of doing something we’re terrible at doing and there is someone else out there who would drop everything at the chance to do that job, because it uses their greatest strengths: a merger of their skills and talents.
Let me share a true and embarrassing example.
During one of my most chaotic and dissatisfying career choices, I was entering data for a mortgage company as a temp. I confess. I had no idea what a mortgage was and they didn’t train me aside from the 10 minutes to show me my desk, computer, phone, bathroom, and break room. I’m not kidding. Onboarding? That wasn’t even a term back then.
Totally nervous, I stared at a computer with a black screen and green letters (that dates me a bit), and the phone rang. I was told to either refinance the mortgage or close it. I had NO idea what I was doing. I keyed in something and I am sure that I messed up at least a few dozen lives that month.
The good news was that I was using my talent with communications and positivity on the phone, but I’m pretty sure that my dismal data entry and cluelessness sent a few of these customer eventually over the edge long after I was gone.
(Ahem. Who hires untrained temps to refinance mortgages?! Yikes.)
Lack of understanding mortgages + data entry = DISMAL FAILURE.
Lack of knowledge + missing talents & skills (strengths) = Wrong Work & Misery
I was just terrible at it and I still shudder to think of the many mortgages that were botched, because of my 23-year-old ignorance, missing skills and total lack of data entry accuracy talent. [Sigh.]
This is my point: use the skills that not only undeniably gifted at using and further developing, but the ones you ENJOY. If it’s a great skill that doesn’t give you uplift, then stop making it a priority. I’m not kidding. If there is a work trajectory that you’re on, because you rock at accounting or public speaking, but you loathe it, then I’m here to tell you that you are being guided in a different direction, because all of that stress, discontent, and feeling like there’s more is a SIGN.
God wants you not only to be your best at what’s been given to you, but to experience joy and uplift. He wants you to be happy.
If you’re not, please consider beginning your exit strategy.
Your attitude really is your altitude…and my guess is that if you’re miserable using something you’re actually good at doing, you’re still off-balance and it’s likely affecting the most important people around you: family, friends, and colleagues.
This week, I challenge you to assess your skills. Don’t just uncover them in this Life Timeline exercise that I explain in the video, identify which ones were your strongest and most joyful, and clearly mark which ones were weak or strong without joy.
Then, take the time to align them with your talents you discovered last week. I bet you’ll find some crossover – that’s great!
If you want further data, I highly recommend the following assessments that I mentioned in this week’s video:
These assessments can help you rediscover or learn new strengths based on a 30-minute assessment. Be sure that you’re in a space where you can be without distraction, be yourself, and you’re well-rested. That helps with accuracy.
Make a list of the skills you identify in the life inventory exercise, add your results from Strengthsfinder 2.0, and see how they align with your talents.
Up next week: Passions & Values. You’re almost halfway there!
This Week’s Action Items
Write your life story chronologically by mapping it out on a timeline from birth to the present.
Identify the ups and downs, and what skills you were or were not using.
If you get stuck, call on your manager, colleagues, past associates, family and friends to fill in the gaps.
Make a list of what you use today, what’s missing and be sure to be honest about which ones bring you joy and which ones drag you down. These will have an exit/ditch strategy in the future!
Look back at last week’s talents. Find the alignment. What’s missing? Where are you a strengths machine?!