I just finished telling five people they made a difference in my life. It was an assignment from Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit. The assignment was to thank five people who believed in you by calling out your talents.
Your talents may not be immediately obvious to you. Sometimes talents come so naturally that you don’t realize they’re special and distinct. Or they come so easily that you don’t realize it’s not the same for others. Or you may not see the grand effect you have, so others must point it out.
I believe everyone is talented, but we may not know how we’re talented. Here are stories of two people whose future success hinged on others calling out their talents when they didn’t see them.
When Tom Rath was in school, his teacher told him he wasn’t a good writer. “Stick to science and math,” the teacher told him. So he did. A few years later, Tom’s grandpa got cancer, and Tom wanted to communicate how much his grandpa meant to him. Tom sat down and wrote a letter. As he handed the letter to his grandpa, Tom doubted if he should have written it.
For days, the grandpa didn’t say anything about the letter. But finally the grandpa spoke: “I’ve been re-reading your letter for days. It’s meant so much to me.” And then he said this, “You’re a good writer. You should do more of it.” And Tom did. Today Tom is the author of six bestselling books and is the bestselling author of all time on Amazon.com.
When Bill Hybels was ten, he got an idea. He thought it would be extraordinary if at the same time, all 30 kids in his class dropped the wooden lids of their flip-top desks when the teacher’s back was turned. The crash would be legendary. So first he convinced the troublemakers of his plan. They signed on easily.
Then he went to work on the goody two-shoes. They weren’t as easy, but eventually they agreed. Soon the whole class was enlisted in Bill’s plan. They waited until the prescribed time, got the teacher to turn toward the chalkboard and then, SLAM! All 30 lids crashed down. The children laughed, the teacher screamed, the crash was legendary.
The teacher demanded, “Who organized this?” and all the eyes pointed toward Bill. She dismissed the kids to recess except for Bill. After a long silence she said, “Bill, the way you were able to organize everyone, it’s clear you are a leader. My question is, will you use it for good?” Today Bill is senior pastor of a 25,000-member church, founder of the Global Leadership Summit in 128 countries, and bestselling author of 20 books.
You never know what it can do when you call out talent in someone. It just may be the moment upon which future success hinges.