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Designed by Sean McCabe
My Personal Background
I have been blessed with many talents. By no means are they attributed to any accomplishments on my part, rather they are gifts for which I am exceedingly grateful. I do, however, believe in the power of positive speaking. My parents would say that I had the Midas touch. Throughout my life, people said that everything I put my hand to prospered. This encouragement and fostering of my strengths certainly played a huge role in the furthering of my talents.
I have definitely experienced this many times over. It seems that literally anything I try or do I am able to immediately pick up and excel at. This is truly a God-given ability that I take absolutely no credit for whatsoever.
That said, the intention of this article is not to talk about my talents. I share what I have to provide some preliminary insight to my personal background in order to for you to relate to what I am going to talk about.
The Fight Against Complacency
We all have natural talents and strengths and we all have certain things that we are good at. I’m not talking about things we have been taught, or learned to do ourselves, I’m talking about the innate, built-in in qualities that have always been a part of who we are as individuals and cause us to gravitate towards particular vocations and hobbies.
The challenge in possessing talents of any sort is the fight against complacency. It’s too easy to take your talents for granted and use them as a free ride to coast through life without putting forth much effort. For me, with many of the things I was good at, I could literally put forth zero to no effort and still do remarkably well. This was the case with school and classes as well as with creativity.
Growing up, I took piano lessons. Over the course of 10 years, I took a total of 7 collective years of lessons. Although I often neglected practicing, I am very grateful to my parents for investing in my musical education and pushing me during those times. The piano teacher I had for the majority of that time was very wise. We were told to practice upwards of 2 hours a day during the week. Three of my younger brothers were also taking lessons at that time which meant the piano was literally being played non-stop throughout the entire day. This made it easy to get away with not practicing as often as I was supposed to as it was difficult for my parents to stay conscious of who was practicing.
Often times, I would make it through the entire week without so much as even having taken a look at my lesson. More times than I’d like to admit, I would put off practicing until a mere 30 minutes before my teacher arrived. I still managed to play my scales and pieces to almost what I though was a flawless level, but my teacher knew better. “Sean,” she would say, “you did very well. Did you practice this week?” I returned a sheepish smile and shook my head. “You play very well,” she continued, knowing my answer before she even asked. “But Sean, if you would just apply yourself, you would be even more amazing.”
I remembered that. As I grew older it began to make more and more sense. Just because I was blessed to have so many things come naturally to me, it didn’t give me a legitimate excuse to be lazy in life just because it was easy to meet the status quo. I was only cheating myself. I was robbing myself of what I could accomplish.
Piano lessons weren’t just to burden me, school wasn’t just to annoy me; they were both attempts at teaching me to learn how to learn and to love learning. Being taught just for the sake of being taught is fruitless. True value is gleaned when an individual derives the ability to take their acquired instruction and use their educational background as a foundation to build on.
If you did not take away the ability to learn from school, then you learned only to be complacent. Your talents should be used as a springboard to boost you even higher. Don’t lean back on them and merely “get by.” Think of your inborn strengths as a head start to a never-ending journey of improvement. This actually ties perfectly into an article I wrote recently, Arrival is a Fictitious State.
In closing, consider a skill that you are not naturally proficient at. If you were to learn that ability, it would take a significant amount of effort. For instance, playing musical instruments is fairly easy for me because it is something I am naturally good at. However, this does not mean that someone who does not have a natural talent for music could not learn to play a musical instrument. It simply means that it would take a significantly greater amount of effort.
What I challenge myself with, and you, is to put forth the same amount of effort with the things you are naturally good at as you do with the things that you are not naturally good at.
We all know people that tend to get on our nerves sometimes. Some more than others. Often it’s certain tendencies or personality traits that just get under our skin and give us that nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling.
However, not all of the personality traits that can be mildly annoying to others are necessarily a bad thing—as long as the energies they are derived from are applied correctly. These specific qualities are what make up a person. They are what makes someone unique. If the tendency is applied in a good way, it can be very beneficial to others.
Examples of potential positive aspects of negative tendencies:
- Natural Tendency: Proud
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Confident, Bold
- Natural Tendency: Angry
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Passionate
- Natural Tendency: Over-Apologetic
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Caring
- Natural Tendency: Anal, Meticulous
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Eye for detail, Attention to small things that others may overlook
- Natural Tendency: Stubborn, Logical
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Conviction in beliefs
- Natural Tendency: Obnoxious, Loud
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: A voice that is heard
- Natural Tendency: Timidity
- Positive Aspect of that Energy: Humility
This list really could easily continue on. The items listed were just the result of a personal challenge to see the good applications of many common traits. Use these example to give you a jump-start in thinking about the tendencies of the people you know in a different light.
The challenge is two-fold:
1. Try to recognize your own tendencies and apply that energy to the positive outlet for that particular trait
2. Force yourself to see the good potentiality in others by recognizing constructive uses of their traits and encourage them by fostering that potential for positive impact