I hear it all the time… “I don’t have any skills,” or “I’m not an expert in anything!” And those words almost always come out of the mouths of very smart, talented, Gen X women who have so much to offer the world. I was one of them. Maybe you are, too. The problem isn’t you. It’s that no one showed you the simple ways to find your hidden talents.
The skills thing is coming up a lot lately. In talking to clients and friends, so many Gen X women are looking for alternatives to what they’re doing every day. That can be because their life is changing. Things are weirder than ever today. Job security is a great big question mark for so many.
It’s smart right now to explore options. And you definitely want to ask these questions before you NEED a new job…
I use the concept of Shine-ability™ to help my clients answer these questions. Shine-ability, in case the idea is new to you, is the melding of the things that you love and the things that you’re really good at to help you create a future that you are excited about. You can start the journey to finding your Shine-ability™ by downloading my guide, “The Six Key Shifts to Clarity for Midlife Career Changers.”
Hidden talent comes up because I so often find that understanding and defining your hidden talent is the key to finding Shine-ability.
But why is your talent hiding? And how do we uncover it?
First, let’s get this bit out of the way.
It literally is not possible to arrive at midlife without amassing a long list of skills.
But it is completely normal to overlook or discount the things that come easily to you. And maybe you’ve never really stepped back to look at and evaluate everything you do – whether at work or at home.
That’s what I mean by hidden talents. We all have hidden talents.
Hidden talents are the things that you do really well and the things that you love to do. And there are simple ways to find your hidden talents.
You don’t see your hidden talent as a skill. You don’t see it as something important because it’s so innate and so natural to you, so much a part of who you are that you don’t even separate it out and define it as something that’s special.
So what’s the key to defining your hidden talents in a way that you can actually leverage them?
You can start with some simple ways to find your hidden talents. First, think about what people ask you for help with. What do they come to you for advice about? What are the topics that people seek you out to discuss? When are your opinions, your thoughts, your counsel critical to decision-making? That is going to be the key to uncovering your hidden talent.
Here are some examples. Maybe you make the most amazing bread in the world. And you’ve got friends who can not get their dough to rise for the life of them. Or maybe you just have this incredible ability to calm children down or calm dogs down, or calm people down in general, especially in times of crisis.
You don’t even think about the fact that these are legit skills because what you are doing comes so easily to you. But realizing and acknowledging that what you are doing is useful, that it provides value, that not everyone can do it means it’s something you should highlight and build on.
The second piece to this process is learning to leverage that hidden talent.
How do you take your hidden talent and make it into something that you can monetize, that you can create a business around, or that you can put out there as a skill that people might want to hire you for?
Well, now that you’ve discovered your hidden talent, we need to break it down to properly leverage it. Your hidden talent usually is made up of a stack of different skills. You may not easily see it that way, though.
So how do you come up with a list of skills if it’s something you do without thinking about it? Because it’s hard to put yourself under a microscope, sometimes talking the situation through with somebody else can help you uncover your gifts. We talk about these things and more in my Facebook group, the Impact Project. You can join the conversation here.
Here’s another way to deconstruct your hidden talent and get at the underlying skills, I’m going to share my coach’s (yes, coaches have coaches – mine is the fabulous Julie Stoian) peanut butter and jelly analogy.
It goes something like this…. If you were going to explain making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to an alien who just landed on Earth and had never seen one before, how would you do it? And if the alien is hungry and agrees to make and eat a pb&j instead of snacking on you, you better get all the steps right.
You can’t just tell the alien to grab the bread, slap on the pb&j, and call it a day. No, you have to tell the alien how to open the bread box and the bag that the bread is in. Next, you have to tell her to take out two slices of bread. The alien will need to know how to open the cabinet to get the peanut butter, and then she needs to know how to open the jar. And we haven’t even gotten to the knife or the jelly yet!
So, when you tally up all the skills that go into your hidden talent, give yourself a pat on the back.
Clearly defining and describing your skills is a big power-step forward.
When my clients get to this point, it helps them do two things. First, they understand that they do have skills. Second, they begin to see all sorts of ways that those skills could form the basis of a business or be applied in a different career or in a new industry.
Use that new insight about your hidden talents to look at businesses, jobs, or other opportunities where there’s a need for the skills you have.
Back to the example of being really good at calming down dogs. What business could you launch around working with dogs where that calming skill would be so key? A doggie daycare? A grooming service? Maybe you could work with anxious dogs (and coach their owners at the same time). If you are looking to change careers instead of starting a new business, you have options there, too. You could become a veterinarian or a vet assistant. You could work for a groomer or a dog trainer. There’s lots of possibilities.
Now that you’ve uncovered your hidden talent, don’t keep it a secret.
When you describe yourself in a public way
make sure you talk about your hidden talent. Share it in such a way that people understand how valuable, useful, unique, special, or indispensable your hidden talent is.
And don’t feel weird about it! It’s so important to remember that your hidden talent is something you are excited about, something that really makes you happy to do, something that really fulfills you. That passion should come through when you talk or write about it.
Those are just a few tips on understanding, defining, and leveraging your hidden talents.
Now you have the power to take your hidden talent and use it to expand your horizons.
This is a really good time, at this moment, to sit back, look at yourself, and assess where you are. Your hidden talent is the key to finding business opportunities, a new career, or the many other options that are out there waiting for you right now.
If starting a business feels right for you, check out this post: 9 things you need to know before starting your own business when you’re over 40.