WHY MANY OF OUR BEST SKILLS & TALENTS MAY GO UNNOTICED (EVEN BY OURSELVES)
Have you ever had the experience of noticing a friend, partner, or coworker — usually someone you closely interacted with, observed they were incredibly skilled at something, and sincerely inquired how it was they were so good at it? Perhaps we felt they had some “secret formula” or read “some book” which taught them to be as excellent as they were in this area.
In many cases like these, I’ll bet that the reaction or response you got from them wasn’t at all as you expected.
Sometimes, when you asked them how it was they were so good at it, they may have simply shrugged their shoulders and responded with “I don’t know.”
Sometimes, they may have already been aware they were much better in this area than their peers, but if you had asked them to teach you or explain how they are so good at it, you probably found (much to your disappointment) them fumbling their words or instructions — unable to effectively teach you to be great at it as you had hoped.
Maybe you even got angry with them — feeling on some level they didn’t want you to be great at it too, and they were purposely not teaching you something that was clear as day to you they were an “expert” in.
Or, there were the instances you were surprised to discover they had no clue they were even particularly good at this thing, and had been living under the assumption that everybody else was good at this, or “should” be good at this too. They honestly had no idea how truly talented they were in this area and unintentionally took for granted how easy it came to them.
I think a great illustration of my point was depicted in a scene from a popular 1990s movie, “Good Will Hunting.” The movie starred Matt Damon, a janitor at Harvard University who possessed an unparalleled genius at math and organic chemistry. Though his talent in this area did gain attention and go noticed from people throughout the movie, his response to inquiries about how he was so good at it are what I want to highlight.
During a scene in the movie, Damon’s character (Will Hunting) was on a coffee date with his girlfriend while she was trying to study for an organic chemistry test. Hunting’s girlfriend begins inquiring him about his talent for it, and gets frustrated at him for appearing to be aloof and not directly answering her questions.
Upon careful consideration, he explained to her that there were many things he couldn’t do well and didn’t “make sense,” but when it came to this area, it just “made sense.”
Often, there are many different things and areas we may naturally be highly talented at, but we have aren’t even aware of this being a “gift,” because it’s so natural for us, we hardly fathom that it can be extremely difficult for someone else and something they greatly admire or appreciate about us which can be of high value in many different settings.
The major challenge is that we humans are naturally hardwired to focus more on noticing and overcoming our weaknesses than we are to capitalize on our strengths. Even if we do have a general awareness of some of our strengths and talents, most of us aren’t as likely to identify them as strengths to ourselves, let alone publicly to other people. And, as most of us are well aware — few and far between are the corporate cultures, educational systems, and family systems who actually provide an environment where verbally acknowledging and expressing appreciation for someone’s strengths and talents is highly valued and encouraged, both by spoken word and through the actual demonstration of doing it from the leadership level down.
Another reason I believe the “hidden” component of our innate talents comes into play so often are because the talents and strengths of people that are commonly acknowledged often seem to be more “pronounced,” like a professional musician with a talented voice, a talented running back who can run exceptionally fast, or a mathematician who can solve equations on a chalkboard 10xs faster than their peers.
For the majority of us, our strengths and talents are likely not as obvious or ‘visible’ to the average person nor are they demonstrated on a public platform. Therefore, it becomes a much more challenging process of exploration, awareness, and constructive feedback from well-intentioned, observant people around you to discover these hidden talents.
One way I’ve personally been able to uncover and identify some of my “hidden talents” was by simply asking The Universe every morning for opportunities to share my unique gifts and talents to benefit and enhance the lives of other people throughout the day.
Much to my surprise, a lot of the recurring things that would happen were things I DID take for granted — such as making people laugh, encouraging someone, noticing and verbally acknowledging others strengths, connecting people, and identifying new strategies with business owners I interacted with to grow their already successful business, and doing so in a way that both generated more profit for their business and better quality of service to their customers.
At times, I was actually surprised myself what a gift some of these things truly were, and how naturally and almost effortlessly they seemed to “come out” of me.
If there was anything I’d want readers to take from this article, it is that you most likely have many talents and strengths that remain hidden, and the reality is that the world is not set up to “expose” them without you both being proactive and allowing yourself to be seen.
Maybe the first step you need to take is simply asking new questions.
Here are a few you might want to ask aloud. I recommend writing them down as well.
What are my unique talents and gifts?
How can I use these talents and gifts to benefit and enhance the lives of other people?
See what unfolds from there.
As featured on LinkedIn, Recruiter.com,WorkitDaily, Human Talent Network, and KTLA Los Angeles Channel 5 morning news as an expert on Career Transition and Optimizing LinkedIn: Scott Engler, author of “The Job Inner-View,” and “Legends of the Recruiting and Career World,” has spent years utilizing, researching, and collaborating with the top LinkedIn experts and industry leaders on how to optimize LinkedIn for professional networking and career development.
In 2016, Scott was selected by the staff at LinkedIn as a thought leader and industry expert for their new “LinkedIn ProFinder” feature on the site and was selected as a keynote speaker at a professional development conference in Eugene, Oregon.
Scott currently runs his own online business “B.Y.O.B.” Coaching & Consulting, where he helps individuals and groups with Career Transition and LinkedIn Personal Branding services.
For inquiries regarding business opportunities to hire him on as a public speaker or workshop facilitator on topics such as “Professional Branding/Networking Strategy on LinkedIn” or “Aligning Your Unique Strengths and Talents With Your Passion and Purpose,” connect with him on LinkedIn at or email him at BuildingYourOwnBrand@gmail.com