The Story of Talents
A parable is told about a wealthy man who planned to go on a long journey. He called his workers and gave them talents. He distinctly knew the abilities of each man so he gave them a gift in equal measure to their capacity. To the first one he gave 5 talents, the second 2 talents, while the third received 1 talent.
The man, who was given five, went, traded, and doubled his investment. The second one did the same. The third one dug up some dirt, threw in his single talent and covered it up.
On a day that none of them expected, the owner returned. After a cordial welcome, he was eager to find out what they did with the talents. The five talent man and the two talent man were appreciated and rewarded. Wiping the dirt and worms off his talent, the last man said, “I know that you are a tough man, and because I was afraid, I hid it. Here it is, just like you gave it to me.” On hearing this, the owner was irate and took the one talent from him and gave it to the man with ten.
From this story we can learn four essentials to increasing the value of our talents to make them functional instead of stationary.
During the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korean President Moon Jae-In hosted his North Korean counterpart’s sister. This simple invitation initiated a series of events that led to a historic meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. And who can forget the images of the handshake and subsequent hand holding between the two Korean presidents at the military demarcation line in April 2018? It has also made the denuclearization of North Korea a more likely possibility. Initiative calls for self-instruction without external inspiration or motivation. You will never know that you can until you do.
Initiative is the activation of your talent. The two servants who multiplied their talents didn’t sit on what they had; they went to explore what their talents could do. This won’t necessarily lead to immediate success. Instead, it creates the path for it. Initiative fights the fear that aims to paralyze us in the land of inaction.
Passion will follow your initiative. While talent alone may provide the potential for success, initiative pushes potential into purpose. Future opportunities beckon for those who take initiative.
A common fallacy is to say what we will do at a better or more perfect time. Initiative must be taken where we are, not where we would like to be. Burn the bridge of stagnancy by taking initiative! How do you grow your initiative? First, take stock of what you have been given. Second, believe it is useful to serve and impact others. Third, act or explore. An adventure awaits!
On April 11, 2009, Susan Boyle, a 49 year-old who seemed to be past her prime walked on to the stage of Britain’s Got Talent to audition. Everyone, including me assumed she was another “wanna be” who would fall flat on her face. The judges didn’t see anything to indicate she could sing until she sang. It was the biggest wake up call that everyone experienced that day. Susan Boyle not only surprised the judges but electrified the audience with one of the best performances. Her performance went viral on YouTube.
After years of rejection and never quitting Susan Boyle finally arrived where she always knew she was meant to be. And it came by risk of exposure.
Either faith or fear will win the day at this stage. Once the fear of starting has been overcome, rejection and intimidation can tempt us to bury our gift and talent in the soil of regret and shame. Continued exposure by interaction and honing of our talents is how we develop our confidence. Don’t allow fear to isolate you and your talent. The danger of isolation is greater than the risk of exposure. Interact and keep working what you have been given.
Making an impact can be compared to leaving a print somewhere or in someone. Impact is not just seen, it is felt. An impact doesn’t have to be large in size as long as it is rich in meaning.
Take for example an NYPD police officer who in an effort to bolster community relations surprised a group of local kids by jumping rope with them. He did it while wearing twenty pounds of police gear! He raised the impact factor of the NYPD with a simple yet meaningful act.
How can you calculate your impact factor? By the opportunities you take to you use your gift or talent measured against the effect it has in the spheres of influence you are in. This police officer had jump rope skills and saw an opportunity to make an impact. This community got to see a different side of the police than what they have been exposed to.
Your uniqueness comprises of the raw materials necessary for you to make an impact. There are opportunities small and big everywhere. Make a decision to become a contributor not just a consumer.
The confluence of initiative, interaction, and impact will result in influence.
As you continue to grow your gift and talent you will discover influence. Going back to the parable, the two men who multiplied what they were given, received influence. We cannot have influence in areas we are not growing in. Growing our gifts require a healthy mixture of grace and grit.
Tom Brady is considered perhaps the best quarterback to ever play. His influence is felt wherever he goes. But, in 2000 no one would have thought what he has accomplished now would have been possible. He was selected by the New England Patriots as the 199th pick in the 6th round of the NFL draft. Five Super Bowl rings later, he is considered as the greatest of all time. With all these accomplishments and at an age (41) where most would be retired, he still plays at the highest level. He does this by maintaining a strict practice and diet regimen. His talent combined with hard work has catapulted him as one of the most influential players in the league. He is also one of the most sought after in the league for career longevity.
Your influence in anything will come through the work you are willing to put in to growing the talent you have.
Final Thought: The servants who received talents depicted two distinct ways of thinking. Those who doubled their investments showed a multiplication mentality. The one who hid his displayed a scarcity mentality. He blamed the owner for his decision to hide his talent. His mindset was based on assumptions not truth. Your mindset will determine what you do with your gift or talent. Which one do you possess?
Keep on Keeping on!