10 Things That Require Zero Talent

In the spirit of Foundthe magazine, podcast and website devoted to found items, I recently saw this list on the whiteboard at my gym. It was so profound I’ve been carrying the picture with me for a few months and decided to finally write about it.

I’m curious about who wrote it and to whom it was directed. Was it geared to employees or gym-goers? I’d wager a guess it’s directed to both. Why did someone write it?

Okay, so here’s my take on all ten.

Ten Things That Require Zero Talent

  1. Being On Time – If you had asked me a few years ago about timeliness, I would have shrugged and muttered “I’ll be there.” Timeliness wasn’t that important to me, and frankly, I was selfish with my promptness. I inherited tardiness from my dad and grandma, two people who’ve been notoriously late for my entire life (and probably their whole lives). It caused riffs among the family and arguments with my parents and grandparents. My grandpa was super early to things, almost too early. I reflected on this trait and realized just how unaware and ignorant it is to purposely be late, or worse to not consider other people’s time. Who was I that my time was more important than yours? I made a New Year’s Resolution a few years ago to cut this behavior. It worked. Now I’m on time. I’m often not super early, but being on time is a value I’ve adopted. It takes very little extra effort, yet the rewards are phenomenal: not being stressed, not keeping others waiting and proving that the other person is important.
  2. Work ethic – I grew up in a family with a work ethic that’s second to none. Grandparents working their entire lives and setting the example of doing their best was something I learned by osmosis. Having a strong work ethic isn’t just about putting in long hours. It’s about standing with strong morals to accomplish something you can be proud of.
  3. Effort – Try. Try. Try. Practice. All the times you don’t want to show up, do it anyway. This is effort. Putting in time or energy for something bigger than yourself.
  4. Energy – Be enthusiastic! Give a smile or a nod to indicate you’re in. Rather than telling people what they mean to you, demonstrate. Show your enthusiasm. If you can’t muster enthusiasm, can you put forth 1% more than you did yesterday?
  5. Body Language –  By now, most of us have heard of the power poses to shape confidence. You know, crossing your arms and looking down may make you look disengaged or withdrawn. Chin up, direct eye contact looks like you’re ready to face the day. There’s a lot of truth to this.img_0281-1
  6. Passion – Does passion stem from desire or necessity? Can you develop passion? Can we find passion in everyday tasks? I believe the answer is YES. Yes to all of it. We can develop passion in wanting to do our best work, even tedious or monotonous tasks.
  7. Doing extra – Go above and beyond. It will be noticed. Sometimes I honestly want to do the bare minimum. But I think that if I do a little more, what will it hurt? A few extra minutes will complete the task better. So do it.
  8. Being prepared – Taking the extra time to prepare food for the week, study notes before a test, or review a speech prior to delivering it. Basically, this means allowing extra time and planning. Sometimes we’re planning for the unknown, but most of the time, we’re actually planning for the known. We know we’re going to be hungry for lunch during the workday. So… that might mean packing a lunch the night before so you’re not stressed when you’re getting ready for the day.
  9. Being coachable – Allowing yourself to take instruction and applying it without defiance. You know, letting someone give you feedback that is in your best interest. If you’ve hired a coach, personal trainer, mentor, let them do their job. Be open.
  10. Attitude – Everyone has bad days. Sometimes we have a string of crummy weeks and we feel like we’re victims. So what to do? Try to stay upbeat. Stay present. Allow your mindset to be expansive rather than closed. Enter situations thinking people are good rather than out to get you. You might find yourself happily surprised.

Note: I spent a lot of time thinking about this post, from the moment I say this featured on the whiteboard to my writing it this week. It now occurs to me that these items actually DO require talent. At childhood or even at adulthood, they’re not all innate to us. Some things may come easier than others, but by and large, these are definitely not skills that are easy. They’re the soft skills we don’t typically learn in school or most classes, but they’re highly important. These are the things employers are looking for when hiring or promoting people. Skills like being prepared, having a positive attitude and doing extra are the very traits we tend to admire in our friends and coworkers.

So, saying that these skills don’t require TALENT is a broad misnomer. These are all practical skills, often developing after years of practice and honing. As I wrote in the very first item, I gained awareness that my tardiness affected everyone around me, not to mention it gave me shame and embarrassment to be late and have to apologize all the time. That alone helped me gain awareness to adjust my behavior.

Though the title of this article has some click-bait appeal, I don’t think these are talentless skills. I do maintain that they’re all really great skills to develop!

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I can help you develop skills like these. Contact me and let’s talk! I’m a Life Coach in Private Practice. 

3 thoughts on “10 Things That Require Zero Talent

  1. I honestly believe that the reason Robert Half Legal has consistently given me temp assignments (to the point that I was able to survive for two years in Southern California without a real job) is because I’m fifteen minutes early to everything, and I actually show up. If I could add one more item to this list, that would be it: showing up. I believe I’ve made so many friends, gotten good grades, and lasted longer at temporary assignments despite my relative lack of ability due to that. I think it shows that you care, like energy does, when a lot of people don’t.


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