Length: 679 words, 3-5 minute read

Subject: I discuss the nature of talent, how to rediscover the things you love and why that love is important.

In life, we have an extremely short amount of time to hone our skills. If we wanted to maximize our growth during that time, it would be wise to choose to build skills that we have a natural aptitude for. But how do we figure out what those skills are without wasting time trying everything?

 

Demystifying ‘talent’

One Punch Man on talent

Talent is a bit of a loaded word. It carries a sort of mythical connotation. And unless you’re incredibly naturally gifted at a single skill, you probably don’t feel like your abilities qualify.

But in truth, talent is almost synonymous with a much less impressive word – interest. Even if we don’t consciously know our talents, our mind does and it communicates this through the things we take a natural interest in.

Now of course, just because you have an interest in art, for example, that doesn’t mean you have a talent for drawing. As we age our interests develop and change, moving away from the core connections to our innate talents. So to discover our own natural talents, we need to look to the past, to the source of our interest. And the most expressive form of interest in children comes from free play.

When children play, they build on their talents

As children, we all possessed an ability to play freely and naturally. There was no need for rules, or boundaries, or constraints. We could use furniture as props, mix and match toys from different franchises and create our own free form stories. And we’d play happily for hours at a time.

Try to remember your play sessions as a child. What sort of games did you play? Try to think about toys that are fairly generic, with Lego being an excellent example.

Did you follow the instructions and build sets by the book, then leave them intact and on display? You probably have an aptitude for logical and analytical skills, like programming or engineering.

Did you try to create totally original models from your imagination? That’s a hint that you have a talent for creativity.

Personally, I rarely used Lego as a construction toy. I spent a lot of time thinking up stories and scenarios that I would play out with Lego miniatures. If I was building a model, it was probably as a set piece for one of my stories.

For me, it was clear that my interests and therefore my talents were in the creation of stories, characters and feelings. So it made sense to focus on learning the skills that would allow me to turn my visions into reality.

Search your soul for a feeling

If you have trouble understanding your own talents, the answer may not come easily. It’s possible that emotional pain might be suppressing memories. Perhaps you always loved to draw, until someone told you you weren’t very good and you stopped altogether.

But somewhere in your memory there will be a feeling about something, something that you felt you were always drawn to. As soon as you come to understand it consciously, it will probably seem like the most obvious thing in the world.

 

Don’t be afraid to play again

As we age, free play starts to seem childish, and children who continue to play past a certain age tend to be shamed. At the same time, it becomes more difficult to enter the world of imagination.

But it is still possible. If you’re struggling to remember how your play sessions went, try to track down some of your old toys and play with them again. It will be tough at first, but after awhile you’ll find yourself drawn to a certain kind of play.

This kind of free playing can also be a very powerful creation tool. There is no better way to flex your creative muscles than trying to create a story, build a model or design a character free from the pressures of your own ego.