In this second of a two part blog series, we try to delve deeper into talent and ask ourselves what exactly it is, how it can be used most effectively and where we can look to find it.
So, talent. What is it exactly? Well, the thing is that no one can really answer that question exactly. Although the dictionary defines it as a special natural ability or aptitude talent is essentially context driven and can mean different things in different environments to different people. For example, the talent of a sports person might be different to a musician, or a teacher might exhibit a different type of talent to that of a lawyer. Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton believes it is related to a package of personal characteristics whereby you are able to acquire expertise or enhance your performance quickly. Of course these personal characteristics can be influenced by what’s around you. People can mix and match certain characteristics they possess to express the same type of talent. What’s important is the total package and not necessarily the precise mix of personal characteristics.
We often have an overly simplistic view of talent. We are ‘born with it’ or ‘it’s just innate’ are phrases you will often hear when people are asked to describe talent. In reality it takes time to develop and several different influences will mould and shape talent over time. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model talks about how the intricacies of human development are influenced by the interactions of natural and environmental systems. This can be applied to how differing types of talent can be developed and refined and allows us to see how and why some talent develops quicker than others.
Talent can be used in a multitude of ways, from innovating a dance routine to producing lines of computer code but the way it is harnessed and how it impacts a situation is the key. Quite often it is the person who lacks motivation or drive that means there is a lack of creativity. If our creative genes are always there then it needs something to help ‘fire them up’ to ensure we can develop and nurture that creative streak. We all tend to seek out experiences that will help to increase the neural brain pathways and ensure our creativity flourishes. We know that creativity can be seen in many contrasting environments. ‘We all differ in what captivates our attention, and that is determined by a lifetime of mutually reinforcing experiences as nature dances with nurture.’
Finally, where do we look for talent? As we’ve talked about before, talented individuals are often seen as the difficult ones, the mavericks, those who people tend to steer clear of as they can be disruptive to the norm. However, it is those people that we must seek out, engage with and create the perfect environment for their creativity to make an impact. We should be looking for different types of talent, for those who possess it early to those who are ‘late bloomers’ and with that in mind, allow time for talent to develop. If, as we said earlier, everyone possesses a unique set of personal characteristics, it is on us to identify what those might be and to allow an environment where this talent and creativity can flow. Talent is all around us, in the person, the environment, at work, during leisure time, on the television and on social media, but the key is to understand how different it is. Once we can do that, talent will allow people to stay relevant and become irreplaceable. Talent; be aware of it, work around it and enjoy what it brings.