In conversation with others about the subject, I find myself a contrarian. For some reason, I cannot shake the notion that we have replaced people in personnel, for humans in human resources, and now we call the endeavor just plain talent.
I must admit, I am terribly confused. What does that word really mean? Would someone help me clarify? Is it talent that drives an organization or persons with minds and bodies? Are we seeking a “skill” to perform a role, or individuals bringing all they are to bear, including their wisdom and expertise and life artistry? Are we interested in people, who are not interchangeable, or do we only need the specific activities they perform?
As an artist/business/consultant, I find myself looking through a unique lens, one which by nature is holistic. It would be easy to say that I am talented. Why? I sing, play an instrument and have done musical theatre. I have sung in Europe, made a CD, sung at funerals, weddings, and even performed with my children in a national convention. My voice doesn’t sing on its own—it needs the power of the gut, the function of the larynx and muscular strength to allow me to exercise my “talent.”
Yet, too many people seem to feel they have “no talent.” I hear this statement all the time. Every person has the capacity to contribute, although many people may be in an organization where they are not able to do so at their full potential. Talent requires work, and part of the work is finding a place where it will be appreciated.
My passion, my mojo, is organizations and people, and likewise it is more than my “talent” in that area that I bring to my work! Along with my talent I bring my emotions, my integrity, my empathy, my abilities, my life experience, my virtue, my learning, my serving, my discernment, my leadership, my relationships and what I have learned from both success and failure. Without the creative lens, I have only a black and white photo from which to see the picture. Through the combination of creativity and what I have learned about organizations through my talent, I can see the totality of the photo in living color.
That’s not just me of course. Everyone brings their emotions, integrity, empathy, and so on to their work. If they engage in their own creative talents, these elements of their identity can shine through. But if they see their work or their colleagues as drudgery—or if their management sees them as a cost to be reduced—they will never be truly engaged.
This applies to every profession. As an executive and leadership coach, I have failed to see anyone who isn’t suffering in their “talent” (job/role) who doesn’t have underlying issues that stem from somewhere else. Leonardo Da Vinci said that “everything is connected to everything else.” He ought to know, as he was one of the first to study the body as a living organism.
Please, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Talent is critical in filling a role. Yet it is only a facet of human beings–most of us can claim at least one area of life where we are creative and can excel. However, let us not confuse “talent”, a current buzzword in the recruiting arena, for the whole person at work.
Any musician will tell you that there is more to a successful venture in music than just having the talent—one needs connections, savvy, marketing, a business plan, an audience and so forth to be successful. Are you wanting to hire “the voice” or the person who owns it? Food for thought!