Dear friend,

Let’s talk about talents.

When most people say talent, they mean the one that the dictionary defines as “Eminent abilities; superior genius.”

But is that what talents actually are?

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary the word talent, which means to bear in Latin, was originally connected to the weight of money.

In ancient times, people paid for things by weight. A merchant’s tools were a set of scales and weights instead of a barcode scanner and cash register. Later, when money became standardized, a talent became the name of a coin that weighed a specific amount.

Talent noun
“Faculty; skill; natural gift or endowment; a metaphorical application of the word, said to be borrowed from the Scriptural parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24 KJV).”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

The story about talents

In the parable referenced, a rich man travels to another country and leaves three sums of money (Hebrew talents in the King James Version) to the charge of three employees.

Two employees invested the money, doubling it. The third employee buried the money he was given because he was either too lazy or too afraid to do something with it.

When the rich man came home, he rewarded the first two employees with more responsibilities, but he fired the last employee.

I highly recommend reading the story for yourself. It’ll take you three minutes.

The conclusion Webster makes is that God has given everyone talents, or skills, as the case may be.

How you choose to nurture and invest those skills will determine your success.

Talents are skills.

How you choose to nurture and invest your skills will determine your success.

Don’t have talent or won’t try?

How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t ________.” Or, “I don’t have the talent for it.” Or perhaps, “I could never _________.”

Perhaps you have said those words yourself.

“I can’t” is an interesting phrase. People often use it as an excuse for why they don’t do some particular thing.

If I don’t have a natural inclination towards a particular skill, like carpentry, it does not mean I cannot do it. It means I can’t do it right now because I haven’t taken the time to learn and practice.

I could learn how to build a house or fly a plane if I wished or had the passion to.

I don’t. And that is where the “could never” turns into “won’t.”

Now, I am not accusing you.

There are only so many things we can spend our time on. We tend to spend our time on the things we enjoy. And we enjoy the things we are good at naturally. That’s where our passions come from. Each of us was built in a particular way for particular tasks.

When we lean into things we are good at, we become passionate. When we lean into the things we are not good at, we grow.

There is a time and place for both.

What will you do now?

Here’s an exercise.

Take out three sheets of paper and a pen.

List 10 things that you are good at on one paper. List 10 things you aren’t good at on another. On the last paper, list 10 things you want to be good at.

How many of those things on that third paper overlap with the first and second?

Take one of those things on the third paper and find one way to grow that skill. If you don’t know where to start, message me. Let’s come up with a plan together.

You can do it.


R. J. Catlin