Do Something with It

In life, we are blessed with so many great and awesome talents and opportunities that if utilised appropriately would make our lives a thrill. The sheer amount of opportunities we squander every day is alarming; we treat them like the miser and the gold; the story is told of a miser who inherited a gold bar from a relative. Amazed at how his luck had transformed, he took the gold bar and buried it behind a rock in the grove at the far corner of his land, where no one would ever discover it. Every night, he would go into the grove, unearth the gold bar and marvel at its beauty. He would caress it, carry it around, marvel at it, even talk to it and afterwards he would bury it again. After some time, some of his farm workers who had noticed his late night movements decided to trail him. On discovering the miser’s secret, the workers decided to come back in the morning and steal the gold. The night following the steal, the miser went back for his nightly visit and discovered that the gold bar was gone, he raised such a lamentation that it attracted the attention of his neighbour who came to mourn with him. After mourning for a while, the neighbour who was reputed to be a wise man stopped and said to him. “My dear friend I have a suggestion; you can bury a stone where the gold had been and pretend that it is your gold bar. Since you did nothing with the gold bar but admire it, anything can serve you that purpose”.

If you consider the wealth of talents we take for granted and the opportunities we pass over every day, it will shock you. We waste contacts, business or relationship opportunities, untapped talents and potentials. We do nothing meaningful with them; at most, we brag and admire them.

Do you know that somebody is making a living from something you can do that you are not taking seriously? You consider your hair plaiting skill as one of those things you can do but is not serious; meanwhile, the hair industry is a multi-million naira industry in Nigeria. You have a million contacts on your phone, yet you have no friends or anyone to talk to or anyone to help when you need it. I have a banker friend who is always worried about losing his job, meanwhile he can draw like Picasso, he helps people around him write on birthday cards and awards, but I’m pretty sure that talent could fetch him more than a “thanks men this is great”. Your skill might even be something as little as making people feel comfortable or making people feel good about themselves. No matter what it is you are ignoring, there is value in it and someone somewhere is having a ball because of it. Here are a few pointers on talents:

· Everybody has something: everyone is blessed with something of value. Some we recognise as value, like a skill in medicine, sports and the law. Some we never saw as valuable until recently like ‘comedy’ while there are others we have not even discovered yet. You have something of value and they’re more than one I can assure you. You would ask me, so what are you saying kani, I have recognised ten different talents, should I pursue all of them at the same time? Well, not if you don’t want to end in a psychiatric hospital or end up being a jack of all trade, master of none. You may have to pick and choose which talent to start with, and also, you must be better at some than others. Prioritise and work your way up. 

· To be truly happy, you must use your talent: I have a friend who is crazy talented, she can bake you to heaven, cook you back to childhood fantasies and write like Shakespeare, but she is trapped in a deadbeat job she absolutely hates. I don’t judge, but come on, let’s wake up and smell the coffee!Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said that “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” 

· You have to discover the gift or opportunity in you: Most times because we grow up with these gifts, so didn't work for the opportunities, we don’t place much value on them. We sometimes don’t even recognise them. We owe it to ourselves to search diligently to discover what we have. 
Pope John Paul II admonished that “Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.” Although I believe it goes beyond artistic talents. Many years ago, the only thing I did with my writing was to compose love letters for my high school crushes, today, it’s a little more than that. Your talents develop, they grow. 

· Talent still needs work: some people think that since talent is that thing you will do even if you are not paid, that it does not need work. Wrong! Talent development needs hard and serious work; ask any footballer, musician or comedian. 
Stephen King, that guy that writes really scary and weird stuff says that “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” And Erica Jong says “Everyone has talent. What's rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” 

· Be sensitive to opportunities: millions of opportunities come our way every day through the people we meet, the places we go and the things that happen to us. We have to be sensitive to recognise and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. Some of the great businesses and inventions were born because someone lost a job and needed to do something to keep body and soul together. Be careful before you term something bad luck, or a failure. Most of them are just disguised opportunities. 

Make up your mind to do the best with everything you have. Let the only thing you are not using be the grace you have not yet discovered, and once discovered, use it. To discover your gifts, do these:

· Ask those around you: those who hang out with you tend to see what you ignore about you. Make a questionnaire for your friends. 

· Reflect and introspect: take time to think about the things you enjoy doing. Write them down, no matter how insignificant, a pattern will emerge.

· Make an opportunity list: write down all the opportunities you can recognise in your life. Connection with people, position, being in the right place, etc. 

Erma Bombeck said “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.” That should be the desire of every living human being, but that is the desire of every great person. Use everything to add value to life and the world. Don’t store anything because nothing is meant to be wasted. 

Image courtesy of scottchan/

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

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