07/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Discover Your Talents

According to Janet Rae-Dupree, writing in The New York Times Business Section, if you're open to growth, you tend to grow. Citing three decades of work by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, she draws a distinction between those of "fixed" and "growth" mind-sets.

I said duh out loud alone in front of my computer as I read the article. People who are willing to grow do.

Dr. Dweck's research has explored how people think about their own talents, skills and abilities. She's studied genius. Humans, it would seem, have a fascination with it. Also, athletic talent. Or musical prodigies.

Dr. Dweck is right. First and always come our thoughts about our talents. My experience of counseling people for more than 25 years tells me that we don't think of our talents particularly accurately at all. Fixed or growth mind-set notwithstanding, mostly we dis our talents as unimportant. Because they're ours.

How meshuganah is that?

I never met an untalented human, never. Not one. Here's why. Each is unique. Each is precious. But talent-discovery, especially if one lives with one of those fixed mind-sets, is time-consuming. It asks us for silence, for stillness, for waiting, for revelation. To discover our own talents we have to become present to ourselves.

If you want to discover your own talent pool, there's a simple method that sits in between Dr. Dweck's binary options. Put down the fixed mind-set and the growth mind-set. Both are too needy and attached to outcomes. Instead, pick up a curious mind-set. Curiosity is a far safer, more neutral energy for the art of self-discovery.

Ask yourself, just like you'd ask a new friend, "What are your talents?" Then be prepared to live the question for a while and let your best self reveal your talents to you. Yes, it will take some time, but so? Isn't it taking time to live without knowing what your talents are? What's your hurry?

Let it take as long as it takes to come to you. The process requires an assumption--that you are indeed talented. Consider doing yourself the favor you would do for almost any other person on the planet, and assume you have talents.

Talent is a wonderful thing, and the thing that fascinates me about Dr. Dweck's research is her glossed-over final observation. It matters not only how we think about our talents, but what we do about them. It's all well and good to imagine one's Carnegie Hall solo piano concert debut, but it helps to twiddle the keys in real time as well.

Talent of itself means little. Acting upon our talents is key. Spending some of your valuable time discovering your talents makes acting upon them far easier because you'll be acting on the aspects of yourself that you value and which you came to Earth to express.

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