Brianna asked Henry to provide her names of those he had mentored who were disappointments. He agreed and told her that she would be surprised when she explored their stories. The first story was Harvey.
When Harvey came to the foundation, it became clear that he had a talent for leadership. He was always organizing his fellow residents to undertake some worthy cause. As Brianna looked through the archives of the foundation, there were a number of photos of Harvey at sites where the residents were helping others.
Added to Harvey’s leadership talent was an earnestness that made others believe in him. In college, he became a familiar face and a favorite of the college’s PR team. This led to a prestigious international scholarship.
While travelling abroad Henry would often appear in photos with prominent figures. While he never completed his graduate degree, he returned to America as an example of someone living a life of purpose.
Henry was elected to his state’s legislature where once again he was a prominent figure in the press and on TV/radio. He gave up his legislative seat to become a pastor in a church which quickly became a mega-church with a following of the community’s elite.
Brianna wasn’t sure why Henry felt that Harvey was a disappointment until she began to examine his story more closely. What she found was a talent for self-promotion.
Brianna found that Harvey used his leadership talent to get others to do the work while he managed the publicity. His eloquence and earnestness were impressive until you dug further into the real story. Brianna couldn’t find anything where Harvey actually made a direct contribution. Even his pastoral role was one where he contributed words that made people feel good, but there was little Brianna could find that the church was doing in the community.
As Brianna thought about Harvey, she began to wonder about the adverse side of talent. Could it be used to exploit or build an illusion of goodness? Could talent actually be dangerous without a sense of how that talent could be used to bring about worthwhile achievements? This was a new dimension of talent that Brianna had never considered.
* * *
“Talent can be a dangerous thing if it is not underpinned with purpose.”