One of my clients is a brilliant commercial real estate broker and developer in Birmingham, Alabama. Len is very successful by any measure.
During our meeting this week, Len was describing the way he can drive by a piece of property and instantly see, in his mind's eye, the possibilities for that land. He is able to imagine all the possible uses of the property and instantly select the one that would produce the highest and best value.
The most amazing part of this is that Len can do this in a blink of an eye. And, for Len, it is effortless. He just knows. Other brokers and developers focus on the technical aspects of the property, the zoning, the topography, the financial details and so on. While these things are important (Len is good at these as well), the real magic that Len brings to the table is his innate ability to visualize the property being used in its most valuable form.
My sister, Lana, has an amazing musical ear. Lana can listen to a song on the radio one time, then sit down at her piano and play the song perfectly and beautifully. I just don't know how she can do that! And she has been able to do that since she was a child. It's magical.
When I talk to Len about his ability and with Lana about her talent, they both told me the same thing. They said that it was easy. They just couldn't understand why other people can't do the same feat.
For Lana and Len, and for you and me, the special ability (the magic) seems so easy, it feels "normal".
Everyone has a natural aptitude in something. You, too, have a special "gift". You may be especially good at working with numbers, drawing pictures, teaching children, growing plants or caring for those less fortunate than you. Your special talent may involve music, athletic ability, empathy, writing, or working with your hands.
Chances are, you don't even recognize your own aptitude. You might think that all of us can see and appreciate the subtleties of color the same as you. You may not get that some of us are not as graceful as you. You might believe that all people are able to effortlessly grow a beautiful garden.
The truth is that we are all very different. You are able to do some things better than I can. And, I can do some things better than you.
Remember in school, when you signed up for subjects in which you were already knowledgeable? How did this make you feel? "Great! This is going to be easy."
What advice did you get from your counselors? Probably, they recommended you take classes where you were weakest. What a drag!
While learning new subjects is a great idea, striving to develop weaknesses can work against you. Conventional wisdom says we should work on improving our weaknesses. This is a terrible waste of time, talent and opportunity.
Imagine what would have happened if Chopin, Einstein, Chris Evert, or Pavarotti had followed that advice. All these people devoted their life to developing their natural strengths. As a result, they each were tops in their field.
Highly successful entrepreneurs, as well as top scientists, artists, athletes and entertainers throughout history have achieved greatness by focusing on their areas of strength.
How do you discover your natural talents? First, notice those things that you do that seem easy for you. These are the things that you can do that seem almost effortless. Often, the tasks that are easy for us are those where we have a special aptitude.
Next, make note of those things you do where time just seems to fly by. When you are doing these activities, you may look up and realize that hours have passed without you even realizing it. This is a good clue to activities where you have natural talent.
Finally, consider all the activities that make you happy. These are things that make you smile. These are the tasks you would do just for yourself, with no promise of gain, just because they're fun, interesting and fulfilling.
Look through the three lists to find the common activities. These are likely to be the areas of your natural aptitude and talent; your magic. These are the areas of greatest potential for you. Imagine if you could spend most of your time developing and playing at something that makes you happy, where time flies and where it's easy for you. Wow!
Don't get caught up in the old advice to work on your weaknesses. Hire someone who is good where you are weak. Delegate tasks that you don't enjoy to others who do enjoy those things. Automate the repetitious tasks. Contract out the chores that you are not great at doing.
No matter how hard you try, it is unlikely you will ever be more than average in areas where you do not have an aptitude. Always working on your weaknesses undermines your self-esteem since you will focus mostly on your deficiencies.
On the other hand, working to develop your natural talents is self-rewarding and motivating. Pursuing your talents allows you to continually realize higher and higher levels of ability, achievement and success. Invest your time and energy in being great at something. Really great. Discover your magical talent. You will be happier. And the recipients of your work, your customers, will reward you for your excellence. What a combination; doing what you love and people pay you for it!
Experience the immense satisfaction that comes with being superb at something.
Find the magic!
Gary is an experienced business coach, facilitator and speaker. He specializes in helping business professionals achieve breakthroughs in their business. Subscribe to his free ezine by going to http://www.bizsuccess.com/newsletter or sending a blank email to subscribe@BizSuccess.com. Gary can be reached via email at Gary@BizSuccess.com or on the Web at http://www.bizsuccess.com.