A recent stroll between the shelves in the library resulted in my finding a book called Talent is Never Enough Workbook by John Maxwell. (This is a companion workbook to his book by the same name.) I’ve been hearing Maxwell’s name lately and as the laws of serendipity and synchronicity would have it, I found him when I needed him.
It’s no secret that I tend to be passive when it comes to life. I’m more likely to let things happen, roll over and play dead or go with the flow than I am to really work to shape my own destiny.
A lot of this behavior is learned. Sprinkle a nice layer of set-backs on top of it and it’s easily to develop the “learned helplessness” exhibited by those now famous experimental dogs of Seligman and Meier. Many of the unlucky dogs in Group 3 learned to give up, but not all. There were some who didn’t apply their bad luck to other aspects of their dog lives.
The implications of this experiment have caused countless others to try it and other like it with lots of animals and a few people. Life seems to present all of us with opportunities to learn. Some of us persevere. Some of us give up. A lot of us do a little bit of each.
It’s easy to give up. Our culture often bombards us with ads and images of success and perfection. Tons of self-help books made wads of money selling us on the idea that if we think success we’ll become success. Ever hopeful and desiring something more than we have, we buy these books, ideas and images with abandon. When they fail we either look for the next book or idea or we give up. Again, a lot of us do a little of both. I can include myself in this group. I look for the easy way, the magic bullet, the mystical formula that will transform my difficult human existence into some utopian ideal of “the good life.”
It’s easy to be mediocre. It’s easy to fail. It’s easy to earn the average C grade for life. Fulling utilizing the talents each of us has been given is hard work. Sometimes we want to fit in and be accepted. We don’t want to stand out. Accepting less than we are feels easier than standing out, standing alone.
We claim to admire the individual spirit, the pioneer, the explorer but few of us understand what it takes to get there and that in the getting there we often leave others behind. We live lives of quiet desperation at the cost of fitting in.
With this we develop the habit of undermining ourselves. It’s a comfortable hole we dig. We lose sight of what lies above us. We cheat ourselves by not believing in our worth, our talent, our potential. We punish ourselves daily by not becoming more than we were the day before. We are not worthy becomes an self-fulfilling prophecy and an excuse. It is the easy way out. It requires little to maintain.
We pity ourselves and protect our right to self-pity. We wear our failure like a badge of honor. We leave the battle field, shell-shocked, unable to fight. We wander through life dazed by our experience. Little can be expected of us.
Maybe these things are not true of you. They have often been true of me. I am not proud of this but if I am to change, than I’ve got to be honest with myself. I’ve got to understand what I’m up against.
In my desire to do things differently, to “lay down and play dead” less often, I stumble across Maxwell who says that “Talent is Never Enough.” It takes hard work. He lists thirteen traits needed to help develop the talents that lie within us.
This is a list I can live with. . . I’ve got work to do. I am burning daylight.