March 2024

A Surprising Life Lesson

In my 40s I have learned we should follow our gifts, not dreams.

Since childhood we are told that true happiness and abundance comes from pursuing one's dreams. But I found that dreams are mostly fickle psychological and emotional destinations. Big dreams often remain unfulfilled and untouched as they are akin to a compass without a roadmap. From becoming a Top Gun pilot to a Tennis Grand Slam Champion to an Astronaut and even an Oscar Winning Actor, I have had moments in life where I have dared to dream big and crazy. The degree of difficulty in achieving a challenging vision or 'dream worth having' requires something far more potent than mere momentary motivated thinking. Kids can afford to wish wildly and get away with it. Grownups, on the other hand, have to deal with direct and indirect costs of dreaming without doing - the bigger the unfulfilled dream, the greater the lifelong discontent and regret. Processing the dream for actionability (do or don't) is therefore paramount.

Doing is about stepping into the cold and chaotic arena of life, embracing ruthless meritocracy and manipulation, demanding you to bring forth your best armor and weapons to give you a fighting chance at your dream. You hone your combat skills over the years in becoming one with your shield, sword and chainmail. Its mundane and doubt-inducing at times but you persevere. You develop your unique offense-defense style, a byproduct of your physical abilities, emotional stability, personal traits, level of commitment and strategic thinking.

In the midst of it all, your talents or natural gifts largely decide the degree of your unfair advantage when it really counts. They are evolutionary edge that operate at a subconscious level throughout your life, giving you a boost, an upper hand from time to time. They are odds-defiers and you need them in your corner if you intend to play the long term success game. Ignore your gifts and you set yourself up for failure and unnecessary friction throughout life. A social worker masquerading as an accountant or an artist posing as an engineer or a fashion designer pretending to enjoy her job as an operational manager, leads to inner strife that sharpens the contrast between what you have and what you could have.

Bottom-line, play to your strengths in life to get the most out of life. Every single person out there is inherently good at something. Here is how to polish your talent:

  1. Establish your why - you don't find it, you develop it, you don't judge it, you give your life a purpose and if aligned with your innate talents and abilities, it becomes a powerful gravitational force pulling you forward.

  2. Understand your strengths and weaknesses through introspection and feedback from others - drop the ego and let the real crystalize.

  3. Practice your strengths and closing the gap on weaknesses through mindful repetitions and upskilling - get great at your gifts and less bad at your weaknesses.

  4. Find a mentor for retaining perspective and objectivity on your thinking framework and ongoing performance.

  5. Develop clear goals and systems and evaluate both with weekly or monthly frequency.

  6. Raise the bar to test your talent muscle! Voluntary take on challenges that push you to your limits.

In weeks and months this dedicated approach to gift-nurturing should start to pay dividends. Begin your journey of turning dreams into memories, the real gift your gifts give.

A Surprising Life Lesson

Dreams or talent?

3/5/20242 min read