What are your secret, real talents?
Secret talents are those special skills you have that you may not use on a regular basis. Everybody has at least one secret talent. It doesn’t matter what your secret talent may be. What matters is that you know it’s there. The talent is yours to use as you see fit. And just in case they didn’t tell you this in grad school – secret talents can be monetized and turned into scalable businesses.
The problem with secret talents is that they’re hidden and a lot of people don’t quite know how to access them. Fret not thyself. I’ve got a list of 35 great ways for you to pinpoint your secret talent. Take it out. Dust it off. It’s time to put that baby to work.
#1. Get real with yourself. You have a secret talent and I’m curious as to why you may not know what it is. So be honest with yourself. Why haven’t you found it yet? Perhaps a better question is: what do you stand to gain by not finding your secret talent?
Two thoughts come to mind – fear of success and fear of failure. The fear of failure persuades you that there is SAFETY in not being good at anything. It keeps you from the embarrassment of putting your all into something then having it not pan out. That’s a legitimate fear. Impractical. Counter-productive. But a real fear nevertheless.
Fear of success reminds you of the RESPONSIBILITY you gain by succeeding. You’ll be expected to succeed again, show others how to succeed, write books on success, record podcasts, trot the globe wearing a headset mic and hyping people up to songs by Journey and Europe.
Remedy: Change your thinking. What I have discovered about secret talents is that they add value to and improve your quality of life. Find your talent. Enjoy your talent. Share your talent.
#2. Remember why they call you. Think about the things you do without having to think too much about it that others seem to have trouble doing. For you, these things are as natural as breathing. So much so that you may not think much of them or assign them any real value at all.
Perhaps you can tell what’s in any dish right down to the MSG just by tasting a spoonful. Having a sophisticated palette is a talent that many people don’t have. What do your spouse, co-worker, teammate, children and the old lady across the hall always call you for?
“I wish I could do that.”
“Wow! You did that?”
Those are your trigger phrases. The next time you hear them, take note and recognize you are being praised for your secret talent.
#3. Listen to what the universe is saying about you. I just threw the universe thing in there. I actually mean the people around you. What do people tell you about yourself? Do people tell you that you explain things so clearly, you’re a good listener or you would make a great teacher? They are probably seeing qualities in you that lend themselves well to other professions, disciplines and pastimes.
Remedy: Listen to them. Ask them why they think you would make a great “_______.” Then consider their recommendation. You may be sitting on a talent that can direct you toward more fulfillment.
#4. Test out some theories. There’s fun to be had with books, magazine quizzes and online personality tests. They can help you to identify recurring themes in your life and habits. If you’re honest and objective you can probably identify strengths you may not previously have recognized.
Remedy: Grab a cup of caffeine-free, blonde roast, low-acid coffee (so says Dr. Oz) and have at a personality test or two. Try Now, Discover your strengths! by Marcys Buckingham and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
#5. Go where the happy is. They say that Liberace used to call his zillions of dollars in antiques, bling and beaded suits his “Happy Happys.” Go to where your “happy happys” are doing the things that bring you the most peace of mind and personal satisfaction.
Remedy: I said do “the things that bring you the most peace of mind and personal satisfaction.”
#6. Stop dilly dallying. What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried? What do you see others doing that you secretly (or openly) wish you were doing? Most of what we put off is better done today than tomorrow. Time waits for no man.
Remedy: Make a list of the things you want to do – things you think you would like or that you’re curious about. Top your list with small things like changing your hair or hanging out in a hipster part of town. Do it within 24 hours.
#7. Take an improv class. People swear by this technique. There is a certain freedom in tapping into your alter-ego and other personalities to become someone else for a few minutes. An improv class encourages freedom of expression and it does so in a variety of ways. When you role play, you access the parts of you that are tucked away and silenced. An improv class gives voice to the 5 year-old Lithuanian girl or cheesy cigar-smoking lounge singer deep inside.
#8. Kick Fear’s ass. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do something that scares you every day.” Indeed.
Remedy: Break through the fear and trepidation and recognize that this moment is what you are promised. Make a pledge for just the next 168 hours to do one thing every single day that you have either put off for too long or that scares the hell outta you. YOLO.
#9. Try Everything. Stop ordering “a number two” every time you go out for Thai. Try the number nine or the number twelve. Turn the menu over and order the Thai coffee instead of the iced tea (warning: the coffee is plane fuel strong). The point is if you open yourself to more experiences, it will become easier to see what you’re good at… mostly because you will have more opportunities to suck at stuff.
Remedy: Try new things. Daily.
#10. Get used to being uncomfortable. Comfort is for newborns, old people and the arthritic. The rest of us need to get really comfortable with feeling like we’re in over our heads. Complacency is the first step on the path to regression. We grow only in proportion to our level of exposure.
Remedy: Join a new organization, go skydiving, take up racecar driving, learn to scuba dive, study something you know nothing about, join a foreign language club, learn the latest urban dance on a Meetup group. Do something!
#11. Be creative. Allocate time to be creative. We shine when we designate time and just allow our brains to drift. Often those times are when we are most innovative.
Remedy: Set aside 2 to 3 minutes every day to let your mind out of its cage. Take that time to contemplate a project or idea you’re working on or just chill out. Often you’ll find some of your best (an craziest) ideas will seem to “come out of nowhere.”
#12. Revisit playtime. Children seem to have a pretty good grasp on the fact that we are all limitless. Somewhere along the way, we are socialized right out of our dreams and end up trying to find the joy in things that don’t really speak to us at all. So think back to when you were a kid. What did you do in your free time when you were little? Were you a teacher? A rock star? Did you build towns or make clothes for your dolls?
Remedy: Go back to the first seven years of your life. Go through old pictures or ask older relatives if you must. But think back to who you were, what you loved and how you spent your time when you were a young child. There’s a goldmine of inner self beauty waiting for you when you remember who you used to be.
#13. Stop ignoring them. Sometimes we hide our talents because we don’t think they have a place in our lives. Not true.
Remedy: Go back and pick them up again.
#14. What turns you on? One very keen indicator of interest and passion is the body’s response to a thought or activity. What activities do you do that seem to provide you with an endless supply of energy? What sends your heart and mind racing so that you get a million ideas at once and the energy to try them all? That’s where you’ll find your passion.
Of course, the flipside of that is to also pay attention to the things that seem to bleed you dry.
Remedy: Pay attention to your body’s response to the stuff you do every day. Find out what excites you.
#15. Find the smile. Figure out what you do that makes you smile inside and out. Not a fake smile, but a squinted eyes, pearly whites, deep laugh lines kind of smile. Coincident with that smile is a feeling that you have done well. You may even prop your feet up and lean back in your chair with your fingers linked behind your head. Get to that place.
Remedy: Do the stuff that makes you smile.
#16. Bring the rain. The old saying is “Don’t get mad, get even.” If you see something wrong, trust that others see it too. Make it right or provide an alternative solution. Passion is passion. Sometimes we can zero in on what we’re passionate about be responding to what enrages us. A little righteous indignation never hurt nobody, and sometimes, just sometimes, it reveals a secret talent.
#17. Solving for the common denominator. You can sometimes pinpoint your secret talent by taking inventory of all that you are and all that you want to do / become. Chances are the things that interest you share a single commonality. By identifying the commonality, you can get a clearer picture of your secret talent.
Remedy: Make a list of the ideas of things that interest you and that you want to accomplish. What is the common theme? Solve for the common denominator.
#18. Tune back in. Life happens. And when it does, we spend our energy and direct our efforts to managing life. Sometimes our secret talents can get lost in the fray. We’re so busy earning money that we don’t take time to nurture the assets we already have.
Remedy: Make it a point to tune in to what you love. Remember what comes easy for you and what interests you and schedule time to pursue that. No need to drop everything and become a starving artist. But do set aside time to be artistic if that’s what your secret talent is.
#19. Go on a blind date. Not with a person. With an activity. Instead of trying to figure out what interests you, let your family and friends pick an activity for you. Take a class, learn to dance, take a trip… it’s up to them. You just have to agree to do it. No worries. These are people who love and who are looking out for your best interest.
Remedy: Choose an activity to do that may be out of character, out of your league, mildly uninteresting. Do it anyway.
#20. Write your epitaph. What do you want your legacy to be? When the end comes (and it does come), what do you want your headstone to say? Shape or re-shape your life so that it lines up with your epitaph. Listen to your gut on this one. It’ll tell you where you really want to go.
Remedy: Write your epitaph. What are you good at? What do you expect to experience in your life that you’ve not yet experienced?
#21. Ask for reviews. Who knows you better than you? The folks around you. So ask for their input on this. Talk to people who know you and who spend time with you and ask them what they think it is that you do uniquely well that could serve others. You may be surprised by their responses.
Remedy: Get a clearer perspective on yourself and your talents by asking for input from those who know you in your various roles in life.
#22. Join a mastermind group. Collaboration often helps us to see and expand on our best selves. A good mastermind group will help you to see the secret talents in yourself and in those around you and you get the benefit of receiving feedback from a group of like-minded individuals who are all collectively striving to maximize their own talents.
Remedy: Find your clique.
#23. Record it for posterity. We all know somebody who seems to be stuck in the past, forcing everyone to re-live their winning play at the big game, or talking incessantly about how awesome their band is. Be that person.
You don’t have to bore other people with stories of how awesome you are (or were, in case you’ve lost your way), but you do need to be reminded yourself once in a while. So make a list of your accomplishments. Even if they’re not Who’s Who awards, write down the things you’ve done to make yourself proud. Go back as far as you can remember and pay attention to any patterns that emerge from you history. secret talents may rise to the surface, ready for your use.
Remedy: Write down. Make it plain. Run after it.
#24. Listen to your kids. Kids say the darnedest things. Often what qualifies these things as the “darnedest” is the fact that they are true, sometimes painfully so. What do your kids say about you? Yes, when kids are young, they think mom and dad are super heroes. But kids are also good for mirroring you and letting you know what they are receiving from you. Your kids know you. Let them tell you what they know.
Remedy: The next time your kids says, “You tell the best stories” or “Mom, you are SO funny” listen.
#25. Picture it. What do you absolutely love? Quick. Make a list. I’ll wait.
It’s probably not a long list, is it? For many of us, the distinction between like and “absolutely love” narrows the list significantly. Let’s narrow it even more. Look at your list and now create a narrative of what a day in the life of your ideal existence looks like.
Remedy: Find out what you’re really passionate about by talking yourself through the perfect day. Don’t cop out on this one. If you can’t imagine what the perfect day is, how will you know when it arrives? Create this day in your mind and find out what really matters to you.
#26. Lose yourself. When was the last time you lost yourself in an activity? Hours flew by, days melted into each other, there weren’t enough hours in the day and beneath the surface of your spirit was sheer joy. Identify those activities you do that cause you to lose track of space and time.
Remedy: Any activity that brings you that much joy has a pretty good chance of either being or leading you to your true talents.
#27. Tap into your subconscious mind. There’s an exercise that is said to help reveal your subconscious by knowing how to interpret a tree that you’ve drawn. Easy exercise. Google it.
Remedy: To access your secret talents, access the secret you.
#28. Learn to play an instrument. Music is provocative. It cuts through the chatter and hits the core of who we are to move us into action. Music can set the mood, cause a riot, unite people and provide you with a cathartic experience that helps you to get back in touch with yourself. To find your secret talent (which may not be music), use music.
Remedy: Pick up your six-string and pluck out a stirring rendition of “Three Blind Mice.” Self-expression always aids in showing you who you are.
#29. Receive compliments. In the West, we’re programmed to thank people when they offer a compliment. False humility keeps us from looking at the compliments for what they are – random, unsolicited opinions both from folks we know and folks we don’t know, on our performance. Compliments are feedback and companies use compliments and customer feedback cards (these days, they use online social “listening”) to improve their customer service.
You can learn a lot about yourself by the compliments you receive, whether they are on your appearance, your eloquence, your cologne, your children’s behavior or your professionalism. Take heed.
Remedy: Listen to what people are offering you as feedback. Take it seriously.
#30. Get spiritual. Prayer and meditation are powerful tools to help you stay focused on what is important – namely, fulfillment through service. When you are quiet and tapping in to the Higher Power and your inner self, you will see you more clearly and that will help you to find your secret talents and abilities.
Remedy: Get quiet. Pray. Meditate. Get back in touch with the real you – the you that existed before your ego emerged.
#31. Leverage your expertise. This one is pretty intuitive. But we love talking about the things we know about. Think about the subjects in which you are well-versed and find out where your audience is.
Remedy: Build on the knowledge and wisdom you already have. Find an audience that you can serve, to whom you may be able to impart wisdom.
#32. Keep a journal. It’s great if you’ve done this since you were a child. If you haven’t, start with your childhood and begin recording memories of stories and events where you felt the happiest or were most fulfilled. Your journal will take some time to develop, but by the time you reach present day, there will be plenty of information that you can use to begin identifying recurring life themes and interests. If there were things in your childhood that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to do, there’s no time like the present to get them done.
Remedy: Create a catalog of good times that you can use to trigger a sort of self-rediscovery.
#33. Find your tribe. The World Wide Web is worldwide. Whatever it is you happen to be passionate about, you can bet there’s a blog, website or forum on the topic. You may not know how to monetize your talent, but someone does. Someone already has.
Remedy: Go online and find the folks who can help you to see yourself more clearly and use your talents more productively.
#34. Ask one question. A fantastic way to get to know someone is to sit across the table from someone and take turns asking a single question: “Who are you?” In response to the question, each of you is to take just a few minutes to list nouns. No stories. No verbs. Just nouns. When the speaker is done, the listener tells the speaker what he or she heard.
Remedy: Who are you? That may be the hardest question in the world to answer.
#35. Make a two-lane resume. A resume is a great way to figure out what you do with your time. We spend a significant portion of our lives working and what you do during the time you’re at work can help you to find your secret talents. Try not to think only about the job you did. But if you’ve worked with three companies in the last fifteen years and you always end up in charge of the office parties, there may be a reason for that.
Remedy: Here’s the exercise: Fold a piece of paper in two. On one side of the fold, list the jobs you’ve held and any hobbies you’ve had. On the other side of the paper, think about the hard and soft skills required to do those jobs and hobbies. Use a pencil to list those skills. Once your list is complete, go back and erase any duplicates. Chances are you’re going to find some commonalities between your job and your hobby and your secret talents will be right there on the paper.
Well, this is certainly a thick enough list to get you started. Take some time this evening, this week, this weekend to go through and really etch out some time to do what’s necessary to find your secret talents. We all have them. It’s time for you to start using yours.