John Glenn’s story fascinated Brianna because it was one of multiple talents in one person: fighter pilot, astronaut, U.S. Senator. While being a pilot and astronaut were admittedly similar, the talent to serve as an effective member of the U.S. Senate required a talent shift from singular performance to one of working through collaborative challenges. She wondered how people shifted from one talent to another and was this a natural progression in one’s life.
As she pondered these questions, her literary agent retired suddenly and Brianna was at a loss. She had solid literary credentials so finding another agent wouldn’t be a problem, but she was concerned for Martha, her agent. She hoped she wasn’t ill. When Brianna met with Martha, she decided to capture her story.
Martha had been an incredibly successful agent and had a long list of authors and literary awards in her portfolio. She obviously had talent in identifying the talent in others and getting their voices heard. But Martha wanted more purpose in her life and she began telling Brianna what led to her retirement.
“I decided to drive to my birth place”, Martha started her story. “I was so disappointed by what I saw. Houses were run down. Poverty looked to be rampant. I saw children sorting through garbage cans for food. Just a few blocks away from my own neighborhood, I saw homes boarded up with yellow X’s on the doors. The homes were due to be torn down, and the neighborhood was being gentrified. I worried about my old neighborhood.”
“I decided to return to my roots. You probably don’t know this, but I’m an excellent cook. I grew up cooking for my father and siblings when my mother worked. Nothing fancy, but I always enjoyed cooking and watching my family eat the food I fixed.”
“I’m starting a community kitchen. A number of my authors have been generous in providing funds for food. I’m starting a self-help program as well. I’ll be teaching cooking skills as well as initiating other skill-building courses.”
“The meals will not be free. I’m expecting to trade food for labor. Everyone I serve will be engaged in some community upgrade. I’ve published several DIY authors, and they agreed to be trainers and provide tools and materials. We are going to bring this neighborhood back to its former self.”
As Martha continued on with her plans, Brianna suddenly realized she had her first multiple-talent story. Here was a woman who had the talent for recognizing literary talent as well as the talent for promoting that talent, deciding to more toward another talent. Her new talent was one of cooking, but it was much more. She was developing a new talent for community restoration. This involved using her persuasions in a new area.
Martha’s journey raised a number of additional questions for Brianna.
- How important is having a life’s purpose to finding and developing your talent?
- Is it common for a person to shift from one talent to another as one ages or gains expertise?
- How common is it for a person to have multiple but contrasting talents?
- Can a person call on multiple talents at the same time with one being career related and the other being one of personal interest?
- Is the development of multiple talents one that is characteristic of people with a growth mindset?
As Brianna thought about these questions, she reflected on her own talent. She thought to herself: “What’s next?”
* * *
“You are unique. You have different talents and abilities. You don’t have to always follow in the footsteps of others. And most important, you should always remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and have a responsibility to develop the talents you have been given.”
– Roy T. Bennet (The Light in the Heart)