It was in Primary 5 that my mum realised that a talent I had could be harnessed – I could write letters so well.
Back then I scribbled essays and wrote playlets.
I entered for essay competitions in secondary school and one of the peak moments was when I clinched the 3rd position in an essay competition in Imo State, giving me the honour to shake the hand of the then Military Administrator of Imo State, Colonel Tanko Zubairu.
By SS2, my mum knew that my strength in letter writing could be honed so well so that I could score an A in the WAEC SSC examination.
And I did score an A. That was in 1997.
Recently, it has been observed that in most of our schools, academic workload does not always give room for a lot of students to discover and develop their talents.
Also, it’s been discovered that the way the learning environment has been structured, students do not have equal opportunities to display their brilliance in class.
Beyond the walls of the classroom exists a world where talents ought to thrive.
There is a need to teach students the strategies to keep a balance between academic workload and self-discovery, which is the ultimate thing they need to thrive outside the four walls of school. I think that it is pertinent to help them to shift their focus and motivation from studying for grades in class to studying for relevance in the society.
Everyone has talent and the use of talents, as specialized as they are, are tools for freedom and fulfilled life.
How do you develop yours?
When we were growing up, the last of my parents’ children was always coming up with what he wanted to study in the university. Today he’d say he wanted to be a pharmacist, tomorrow he’d say he wanted to study economics, and the next he’d say he wanted to be a priest of the Catholic Church. My dad was calm and supportive, gently aiding and prodding him. Today, he’s an accomplished businessman, having studied accounting in the university.
Yea yea, I know that it’s such a beautiful thing to have a sculpted template that shows you how to navigate the confusion, follow the steps articulately and land on the stars of success, having clarified the path to follow. Perhaps, you’ve been told that God holds all the answers and you spend hours punching the heavens with your cries of mercy to be shown a glimpse of your glory.
But then, is that the same for everyone? Sadly, no!
Therein lies the joy of the finding. Confusion isn’t a bad word as many are wont to believe. In a confused state, your mind works hard to find a solution – the path. Appreciate this as it’s expanding you to a better human being.
Being confused will offer you the opportunity to do many exciting and boring things. That opportunity may not be available to all. If you think time is flying by, consider that your resume of achievements while trying out stuff will trump that of many. Also realise that the experiences gained can be applicable as you push through the rubbles when you eventually hit gold.
Since I turned pro as a writer, I took writing as a business and not a hobby. I rose daily to write. Since 2011 till date, never a day has gone by without my posting daily on Facebook. Writing daily has become a norm to me as the food I eat on a daily basis.
You’ve got to sharpen your talent by working on it daily. The Internet is littered with amazing documentaries of the lives of people like David Beckham, Donald Trump, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, and Chimamanda Adichie. These are folks who rose daily to commit to the development of their talents into profitable skills that are revered all over the world.
You can’t bypass the process. It takes time to hone your talent. You must submit to that or suffer the tyranny of undeveloped talent when you come before the dining table of kings (if you’ll ever do so).
As we grow in the utilisation of our talents, it’s pertinent to note that the support systems we’ve been built around ourselves may be shifted to accommodate our expansion.
My mum was my solid support while in secondary school. When I wanted to resign, she became dramatic, imploring that I stay with the confines of security offered to me by paid employment. Confiding in her weren’t yielding optimistic results because she couldn’t grasp why I had to leave paid employment to pursue the path of supposes uncertainty.
We all need support from friends, family, colleagues and lovers. But realise that on this journey, supports may not see the big picture like we do. Don’t hesitate to shift supports. See this not as selfish, but necessary if your talent has to shine farther than the imposed limits of your current state. Humanity needs you and you can’t afford to keep a support system that’s not excited about the twinkle of stars in the horizon.
Failure is part of the journey.
While I worked as an engineer, we had series of meetings where we brought all the possibilities – successes and failures – under the scrutiny of our intellectual acuity so we could see how to execute projects with high levels of success. We didn’t close our eyes to possibilities of failure and neither we prescribe spiritual tablets, turning blind eyes to the dark paths because of the thrill of the throes of optimism.
Appreciate failures. There will be times you will goof. There will be times you will get things right. They’re all moving parts and parcel of the cycle called life. Everything should be taken as feedback, including failure. You learn the lessons and move on.
Every step of the journey should be stewed in contentment. While I don’t accept that we bathe in the pool of status satisfaction, but we must learn to take time to enjoy the hallmarks we’ve built and left. Breathe and be grateful.
Attached closely to this is to eschew the spirit of aggressive and manipulative competition. By competition, I don’t mean the type we see when we play football or sit for exams to sift folks, but the type that tries to elevate above the other. Such is a destroyer of self-esteem and endangers trust.
Sadly, this type of competition has been entrenched firmly in our culture. We see it in speeches made in churches where we are told not to ever be the tail, but always the head. We see it in schools where people we come first are celebrated. We see it in families where parents celebrate the kids who win all the laurels.
Why I don’t endorse mediocrity, know that we all have roles to play in the ecosystem. The woman who sells pepper may not win a laurel, but she has a role to play in the sweetness of the pot of soup you’ve made. Likewise all others if we critically assess the roles our talents play.
If you’d studied agricultural science in secondary, perhaps you’d have balked at the questions that wanted you to state the economic importance of beetles or cockroaches. I felt they were to be killed off, but I was proved wrong. Reflect on that.
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