By Miles Jaye
Talent is power! Talent has the power to fascinate and captivate. Talented people possess the power to influence and to persuade, that’s why singers and actors are used to selling products on TV—folks trust people with talent. Talent, combined with charisma, swag, and even a fair degree of good looks, can yield a powerful, inexplicable, almost inescapable force over those exposed to its allure.
I get a little uncomfortable when someone tells me, “You’re so talented.” Not to complicate a compliment, but a child can be talented. That same compliment can be true of a precocious 6-year old or a gifted 12-year old. I come from a world where talent was a starting point not a destination. Time is the factor! It’s a question of sustained hard work and sacrifice over time. Talent is the seed, it’s not the salad. It’s the grape, it’s not the wine. Wine takes time!
When I board a plane, I don’t want to hear, “no need to worry folks, both pilots are talented.” I want to know that there are a Captain and a First Officer on board. I want to know the Captain is in charge, because he or she is the most skilled and has the most training and cockpit-time operating that aircraft. I imagine the same is true of doctors. “Dr. Williams is not a board-certified surgeon, but she really is quite a talented physician— you’ll be just fine.”
My last visit to the dentist, a dental hygienist was assigned to perform the check-up on my gums. I was not happy to see her approaching my mouth with that sharp hook-like object instructing me to open wide. Where was the dentist? In the arts, we work toward mastering our craft. I like to think of myself as having mastered my craft– the art of songwriting for example, or my style of jazz violin.
I’ve put many years of work into both. I was striving for mastery. In music, a master is called a virtuoso or Maestro. In the martial arts, a sensei or sifu, after mastering some form or system of karate or kung-fu, after many years of study and training, is then qualified to instruct–he or she is called a Master. “You’re so talented” somehow, unintentionally, negates the work and sacrifice required for accomplishment.
Perhaps also unintentionally, we teach our kids that talent is the X-factor. They’re so caught up with the talent thing that they’re convinced that absent an obvious gift for athletics or music, they are unlikely to enjoy the opportunities life has to offer. The fact is, opportunity is born of every hour of hard work you apply. Sadly, and ironically, the talent setup hurts the talented ones the most, as they’re led to believe that talent alone is enough.
Will Smith said: “I’ve always thought of myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous, insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.” Talent is a setup! Think about what we teach our sons about talent. If you have it, you’re special, if you don’t, you’re not. Then what about drive, determination, practice, preparation? What about character, perseverance, tenacity, persistence? What about courage? What about faith? Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” said: “We all have possibilities we don’t know about.
We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” said: “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” He also said: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The Apostle Paul, author of 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 said: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another speaking in tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” How many of us even teach our sons what the Word has to say about talent? Every son has the ability, the potential, the talent, to be a great son, a great father, husband, co-worker, neighbor– a great man. Every son has the gifts needed to make his mom and dad proud, but he is just the seed, and like any seed, he requires cool water, warm sun, and the love of fertile soil to blossom and grow to his full potential. That’s what’s on my mind!
Miles Jaye is an award-winning R&B/Jazz singer, musician and producer. He is also an author, painter and trained chef. firstname.lastname@example.org www.milesjaye.net