Talent is its own expectation: you either live up to it or it waves a hankie, receding forever. David Foster Wallace

What exactly is a gift? Let’s begin by moving away from wrapping paper, Amazon shopping, and Santa. What’s the definition of a gift? Actually, there are two:

a thing given willingly without payment
a natural ability or talent

As I’ve said in previous missives, a counselor’s job is not to advise. Rather, it is to hold up a mirror in which we see ourselves more clearly.

So what are your gifts? Howard Gardner, the creator of the concept of multiple intelligence, tells us that we are all born with different abilities or skill sets. Gifts, if you will. These are attributes that are in-born. We didn’t earn them. They came to us naturally. But it is, nevertheless, our responsibility to cultivate and nurture them.

That sounds simple enough. So why do so many genetic legacies go undeveloped? There are probably many reasons but one of them, I believe, is due to a lack of recognition of that gift. And also, envy. How often have you admired the talent of another person while discounting your own? So called “bright” people wish they were talented musicians or blessed with a beautiful voice. Successful salespersons, blessed with the “gift of gab,” would be embarrassed to show their high school transcript (C’s and D’s in abundance) to their children. And so it goes. Instead of looking directly into that metaphorical mirror to recognize our gifts, we crane our necks to look over it to stare at another’s talents, skills or gifts. And yes, my neighbor’s lawn does look better than mine from this angle.

So, let’s return to the task of recognizing your gifts. They are there, even if you discount them or take them for granted. In the film, “A Bronx Tale,” Lorenzo, the bus driver, tells his son “the greatest tragedy in life is wasted talent.” Lorenzo’s “gift” was, perhaps, his ability to impart wisdom to his young son.

Therefore, today’s homework is self-evident and in two parts. First, gaze into the mirror and perform, as the Fourth Step of AA instructs, a fearless personal inventory. (Note: the wisdom of the AA Steps is for everyone, and not just those in recovery).

Next, develop a plan for developing and utilizing your gifts. What have you ignored or downplayed? What talent are you allowing to go fallow? When you commit to maximizing your gifts, all will benefit, including you.

And look, your lawn is pretty green too!
“We each harbor a talent. It hibernates within us, snug yet eager, waiting for the first darling buds of opportunity to emerge.”
― Kevin Ansbro