Developing Gifts and Talents

By Christine Dunn

Every person on this earth has unique gifts and talents, and using them can bring happiness and purpose to our lives!  Discovering our gifts can even lead to satisfying employment, and allow us to contribute and make our homes, families, neighborhoods, jobs, and communities better places to live and be!  But do you recognize your unique gifts and talents?  We don’t always see our own abilities clearly.  Often, fear and negativity can keep us from finding and developing our gifts, skills, and abilities!  Here are a few ideas to help you realize some of your undiscovered gifts and talents:

Ask those who know you.  We are painfully aware of our own weaknesses and negative qualities.  It is much easier to see gifts and talents in those around us, than in ourselves.  A school teacher tried an experiment with her struggling middle school class.  She wrote the names of each of her students on the top of individual pieces of paper.  Then she had each student write a good quality about each of their classmates on these papers.  The students were so surprised at what their classmates wrote about them!  This paper became a treasure to them because it was a reminder of the good that people saw within them.  The class members all went on to excel in their lives.  In fact, one young man in the class was later killed while serving in the military, and that paper was found in his wallet!  Knowing what our unique gifts are can bring confidence and  propel us on to greater achievement, so ask those who know you and interact with you about the gifts and talents they see in you.  You may be surprised and delighted by what you learn about yourself!

Think about all the jobs and responsibilities you have had in your life and make a list of your favorite parts of each of those opportunities. Every job certainly has things that we don’t enjoy, but usually there are plenty of things that we not only enjoy, but are good at.  You might realize that you enjoy helping people, or communicating with them in person or over the phone.  Perhaps you like to write, or train new employees, or post on the company blog, or throw office parties, or even arrange the office furniture! It is worth examining these activities because the things we enjoy are usually tied to our greatest strengths!  And don’t leave out your personal life and hobbies. Examine them as well! Maybe you love being with children, or creating computer graphics or artwork, or dressing fashionably for success.  Maybe you have an eye for detail, or a witty sense of humor, or have great organizational skills.  Whatever you love to do may be transferred to developing a new work skill or perhaps even a new career path!

Realize that some of our best gifts emerge in hard times.  When times are hard, we have a choice.  We can choose to let our best or our worst qualities come out.  Focus on discovering and using your very best qualities and gifts during difficult times.  This process will forge strength in you and give you a sense of control despite your challenges. You will feel better about your situation, and you’ll discover some empowering things about yourself.  Though no one would ask for struggles, the truth is that without them, we may not ever stumble upon our strengths!

Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Maybe it has been too intimidating in the past to branch out and try to develop new skills and abilities.  But what do we have to lose?  Even if we discover that we DON’T have a certain gift or talent, that gives us information and we can go in a different direction. So be willing to experiment and try new things, and you will learn more about yourself in the process. 

Often our best gifts emerge when we are not focusing on ourselves.  Look around.  See who needs a helping hand and watch your gifts blossom as you serve those around you.  Maybe you can fix just about anything, or perhaps you are good at prioritizing and seeing what needs to be done, or maybe you have a knack for looking at the bright side and offering a cheerful word.  Whatever it is that you are good at, share it with others! In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he spoke of the experiences living in a concentration camp.  Many times, the people who survived that ordeal were the ones looking out for the welfare of others.   Everything we give comes back to us, and sometimes, in amazing and unexpected ways!

Pattern your life after good and worthy role models.  If you have great respect or regard for someone, analyze his/her life choices to see patterns and character traits that helped them succeed. You may learn that you have certain gifts and talents in common.  Celebrate that, and know that as you persevere in those ways, good things will follow.  You may see characteristics in that person that you do not currently have, but desire to develop.  Start there and try to incorporate those abilities into your own life and situation.  Small efforts can make all the difference. 

Reflect on where you have come from.  Discover stories of bravery, diligence, or patience in your extended family that inspire and motivate you to be better.  This is your history and you can build on anything that is positive and praiseworthy.  Conversely you can learn from and avoid those things that are not.

Every one of us has undiscovered gifts and talents!  Actively seeking for your gifts and talents will help you discover more about yourself, find greater life satisfaction, and become an inspiration and a benefit to others.

Developing Marketable Skills

Once you have focused in on your gifts and abilities, you will then have better direction to apply for jobs that will be the most interesting, satisfying, and rewarding to you. You can turn your gifts and talents into skills that will be marketable in the workforce.

Look at job advertisements in your industry of interest and notice what skills employers are looking for. Certain skills make us more valuable in the job market. Today there are many resources to help us acquire those skills!  

Most industries require a fundamental understanding of the computer. Thanks to online training and education websites, this has never been easier.  Free online courses or YouTube tutorials are great ways to learn or brush up on Excel, Photoshop, Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, or QuickBooks.  Check with your local library or community center or community college to see what free or affordable computer training they offer.  Sites like Lifewire also provide comprehensive tutorials.  Or take free Mac courses at an Apple store near you. 

If a college degree is not an option for you, certificate programs are a great alternative!  Certifications require less time and money and can help develop skills particular to certain jobs.  They can also help people brush up and hone their skills.  There are certifications for jobs in a variety of industries including healthcare, administration, and information technology.  Due to the aging population, medical jobs are in high demand.  Many training programs such as medical assisting, medical billing, or medical coding jobs can take as little as six weeks to finish, but can provide jobs with good pay. These programs can be found through community colleges and trade schools, and many of them can be completed online. Once employed, many facilities will pay for you to get further certifications, which will also increase your earning potential.

Certain abilities are always desirable in the workplace.  “Skills like teamwork, problem solving, and conflict resolution are particularly valuable to employers no matter what industry you’re in,” said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at, an online recruiting company.  If you can communicate in positive ways and facilitate teamwork, and finding solutions, you will always be a valuable asset to any company.

Practice good habits now. As you think about applying for jobs and starting new employment, practice behaviors now that are acceptable and desirable in job interviews and on the job itself.  Employers want to hire people who are capable and ready to perform at work, so avoid texting, surfing the web, checking social media, or taking cell phone calls while in interviews or at work.  Also, prepare for job interviews or work by showing up on time, and being well rested.  Always be clean and well-groomed and behave and dress in a professional manner that will not distract or disrupt the work environment.  This will enable you to present your best self to employers!

Lastly, as you embark upon your job search, don’t underestimate the power of networking. Many people get frustrated when they are applying for jobs with hundreds of other people.  How will they stand out?  The fact is that every person has a network of people around them. This network can help get the word out about your skills and abilities.  When people are aware, they can pass along your information to their network of contacts also. 

One man who found himself unemployed due to cutbacks, had been applying for jobs unsuccessfully.  He was playing basketball one night with friends and just briefly told them he was looking for construction management positions.  Upon hearing that, one of his friends informed him that his wife happened to work for a construction company.  They were able to put in a good word for him, and he got a job! 

We should all be building and/or maintaining our network of contacts.  In the end, some jobs never get posted to the public but are filled through information communicated through these networks of contacts. So, talk to friends, work-out buddies, neighbors, friends at church, and others to let them know about your gifts and skills, and the type of work you would like.  Networking is sure to generate some great leads and new opportunities.

This world is a better place when we all recognize and share our unique talents and skills! Use one or two of these suggestions to start down your own path of self discovery today! A brighter future awaits!