People will often tell you that you have a talent for something. This may be that you are good at public speaking; you have a beautiful singing voice or can add two large numbers in your head. And often you also hear people use the word “gift” associated with a talent; “you have a gift” or “he is gifted”. It is also important to note that talent does not always mean “artistic talent”, as it is often associated; yes playing the piano is a talent and a gift but painting a wall or leading a Fortune 100 company is also a talent and a gift. It is also a fact that the more you practice something, the more skillful you become: and here you will hear people say “he is very skilful” or “he has mastered his skill”
I enjoy a bit of DIY (do it yourself) so much that I have fixed my house from top to bottom all by myself. And I will put my hand to anything from painting a wall to fitting in a window. I am not claiming to be a professional and I don't know if you would pay for my work, but it is good enough for me and often my wife approves! You then have other people who cannot and will not even hang a picture in their house. You can claim "I don't have the talent for it" and here is where the question is raised. Do I have a talent for it, a gift or a skill? I have build and fitted a wooden staircase from scratch using a simple spreadsheet calculation and the right tools (worth noting I have not had formal training in woodwork). The staircase still there 6 years later and at the time I enjoyed doing it, but it is not something I would want to do for a job. I have never been professionally trained but I have done DIY all my life, so I think this is a skill and not a talent or a gift as some people have claimed when they saw the staircase. I have trained myself over the years to do most things from pluming to electrics and now in my mature years I can do this things. Could I have built the staircase when I was 18? Perhaps not as back then I did not have the practice I’ve had now. I do think that unless you have the talent, it takes years to master a skill and be good at it.
So let's turn to the arts, which is the area most people tend to associate with talent. Can you play the piano? Can you sing or act? Could you paint the sixteenth chapel? I reckon you probably could. Would you be as good as Mozart playing the piano? Is this what talent is? He is, as we all know, considered a genius of the music and a gifted composer, and perhaps cases like this are exceptions to the rule, but I still maintain that if you have the passion and dedication, and work hard at it, you can reach high levels to master a skill, and you don't need to have the talent or gift to do it. Fred Astaire was told in an earlier audition in his career "you can sign and dance a little, I would not waist my time doing this" Think about this – Mozart, we are told, could play brilliantly the piano at just the age of 5 and was declared a genius, Fred Astaire could not impress a producer in an audition as a young performer, yet both became gifted artists in their own right. Did one have a talent and the other mastered his skill? Fred Astaire was determined to become a great performer and he focused to achieve this, he never gave up despite being put down, instead he work hard to succeed. You would never say he was not talented.
So we circle back to the question – talent, skill or a gift? I think it can be either and one of the same. I do believe there are some people who a born with a talent or a natural ability to do things, but I also believe you can become talented at anything by working on improving your skills. Those who know me have come to realize that I am an individual who will try and do anything in life. One moment you will see me with a hammer and a drill in hand fixing a door, the next I am dealing with a complex issue at work and then I will be writing a musical or play, or singing a song. A Jack-of-all-trades as they say and perhaps master of none, but I do believe that I can do anything that is put in my way. May be I don't have a natural talent or gift for anything but I have developed skills for many things and if given the chance, one day I will also learn how to fix my car!
It takes hard work and dedication to achieve anything in life, and perhaps we don't all have the passion or desire to do master a skill (me fixing a car), but one thing you should always keep in mind is that you can sing, you can add two large numbers in your head and you can fix that broken door that has been annoying you for the last 6 years, all you have to do is develop that skill and desire to do it!