As a coach, I am trained to look for distinctions, those small differences between words and concepts that can crystallize meaning and capture concepts. One of the distinctions that I have been thinking about involves three words that are often used interchangeably: Skills, Knowledge, and Talent.
Skills are the how-to’s of a role. They can be learned and improved upon with practice. Examples of skills are the ability to use a calculator, bake a pie, dance the polka, or speak a foreign language. Your job and roles in life all require a set of skills that you master with time and experience.
Knowledge is what you are aware of, the facts and experiences that you have learned in your life. Knowledge comes to us from a variety of sources including formal educational settings, experience, and self-exploration. We are continually learning throughout our life time. We have knowledge of many things including the quickest way shop for groceries, the requirements for getting a drivers license, how to soothe a headache, or the best way to cheer ourselves up after a hard day. Our values, priorities, and goals come from our knowledge of our relationships and ourselves to others.
Talents are a whole different ball game. Talents are in-born capabilities that are unique. We are born with a set of talents that we develop over our lifetime. When we are using our talents, things are easy and effortless. In fact, things are so easy for us when we are doing something we are talented in, that we often assume that everyone has that talent and it is really no big deal.
Here is an example to help you understand the distinction more clearly. I have mastered the skill of driving a car. I can start the car, back it up, and make turns competently. I have knowledge of the rules of the road, maps, and what to do if the engine light comes on (Yes, I learned that one the hard way!!) However, I do not have a talent for driving. It feels like an effort to me. I don’t look forward to it, or feel excited when I finish driving.
My husband has a talent for accounting. It thrills him when he balances our checkbook and everything comes out correctly. He has an innate talent for precision as well as the skills and knowledge of accounting. He looks forward to reconciling our accounts and paying our bills.
To help yourself find the most satisfying career possible, take a look at your skills, knowledge and talents. Think about the things you do that seem effortless, and effortless. Think about the tasks that you look forward to doing. Those activities will reveal your talents. You can have all the skills and knowledge in the world about a possible career, but if you don’t have a talent for it, you will not feel good about your work nor will you achieve success.
When you find a career that uses your talent, skills, and knowledge, you will LOVE your work. You will be happy when you go to work and satisfied at the end of the day. Success will come naturally and effortlessly. Spend some time this month thinking about your skills, knowledge, and talents and you will master 3 keys to success.