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How to Perfect The Art of Maximizing Your Talents

How to Perfect The Art of Maximizing Your Talents

The art of maximizing your talents is an ancient art form. It goes way past the New Testament times down to the Old Testament era. To put it simply, this art form is old. In fact, as old as time is. Now, why do we have to emphasize this fact? Even if many people consider it ancient, the Bible still contains lessons which are relevant and are applicable at this time and age. Yep,  even in this digital age. Today we will tackle a lesson from the New Testament. It’s one of my favorites culled from the book of Matthew.

The parable of the talents is not only about handling finances, it’s also about the natural ‘giftings’ you have and how to manage and maximize them to reach your full potential. I find Steve Pavlina.com helpful regarding personal development but this piece surpasses my expectations.

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In various religious texts, there can be found some interesting personal development gems.  One from the Bible is “The Parable of the Talents.”

The Parable of the Talents is one of the stories Jesus told to teach a moral lesson.  Although the word “talents” in the story refers literally to money, you can obviously extend the meaning to other areas.  It’s interesting to read it using the common definition of “talents.”

Here’s the story:

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The Parable of the Talents

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.  Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received the five talents brought the other five.  “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents.  See, I have gained five more.”

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”

The man with the two talents also came.  “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.”

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Then the man who had received the one talent came.  “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.  See, here is what belongs to you.”

His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

– Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

This simple story makes some interesting points that are applicable to the pursuit of personal development.

First, we’re all given a different starting position.  Some of us are born into abundance (five talents).  Others are born into scarcity (one talent).  But what matters isn’t what we’re given — it’s what we do with it that matters.  So Jesus acknowledges the unfairness of life, but he also suggests that our starting conditions are irrelevant.  One person earns five talents, another earns only two, but both are congratulated equally because both achieved a 100% gain.  (I’d sure like to know where those servants invested their money!)

This is also a good lesson in how to deal with other human beings.  Deal with other people based on their starting positions, and evaluate yourself by your own starting position.  If you happen to be one of those who receives five talents, don’t pat yourself on the back that you’re already above average.  If you have abundant talents, you should expect even more from yourself.  Similarly, there may be times in your life where you only have one talent and do the best you can with it, and even though your gains appear small from an external standard, by Jesus’ standard you’ve still made a notable accomplishment.  I wrote about this previously in Raise Your Standards.

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Another interesting aspect of the parable is that our talents are entrusted to us, like a master putting money into the care of his servants.  We are stewards of our wealth, and I define wealth very loosely here, well beyond material possessions.  For example, if I can write and speak fairly well, those are talents entrusted to me.  I can bury them in the ground out of fear, or I can push out of my shell and strive to create increase for all.

One thing I wonder about the parable is this:  What would have happened if one of the servants who invested the money realized a loss instead of a gain?  There’s a clue to how Jesus would have answered this because of how the master addressed the third servant:  ”You wicked, lazy servant!”  Later the master refers to that servant as “worthless” and has him physically thrown out.  That’s pretty harsh language considering the servant still gave the master all his money back.  Is Jesus saying that inaction is wicked?  Yes, I believe so.  In other words, if you do nothing with your talents… if you hide them in the ground and hoard them, you are choosing to be wicked, lazy, and worthless.  You are supposed to invest what you’ve been given.  Don’t be lazy.

Another clue is how the first two servants are praised.  The master praises them for being “faithful.”  Very interesting.  It would have been different if the master praised them for being shrewd or effective or profitable.  But the praise is given for their faith, not for their results.

Given the language (and hopefully my points still work with non-English versions of this scripture), I conclude that if one of the servants had invested money and lost some or all of it, they would still have been praised for their faithfulness.  However, given that Jesus doesn’t directly address this condition in the parable, he may also be suggesting that faith itself is the path to success — a common theme in his other teachings.  So perhaps if you use your talents faithfully, you aren’t really going to lose.

Another notable quality of the parable is the lack of competition.  The servants aren’t competing with each other for their master’s favor.  It’s not a zero-sum game.  The first two servants both contribute something of value to their master’s estate.

What’s the ultimate reward for the faithful servants?  Although Jesus doesn’t explicitly say it, it seems obvious they don’t get to keep the money.  The two successful servants aren’t even working for their own increase.  It’s not their money.  They’re working for the increase of their master, and they share in the increase to his estate.  Their true reward is to share in their master’s happiness.  So happiness is the reward, and happiness comes from serving others.

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I know from experience that if I undertake some action to create increase only for myself, there’s very little energy to it, and it doesn’t usually increase my happiness.  But if I focus on creating increase for others (such as by helping people grow), then I feel great joy in doing that, and it ultimately creates increase for me too.

But there’s more to it than that.  Happiness is a quality that I inject into my work, not something I derive from it.  When I work only for myself, I’m looking for happiness outside myself.  Trying to achieve happiness that way doesn’t work.  But when I work for others’ benefit and turn off WIIFM for a while (What’s In It For Me?), I tap into the deep wells of happiness that are already inside me.  Instead of trying to achieve happiness, I happily achieve.  Happiness flows outward from me and into the work I do, so I experience it as an outflow, not an inflow.

Happiness is something you exhale, not something you inhale.  Are you one of those people who must say, “Yes, Senator, I had a supply of happiness in my gut, but I did not exhale?”

As Jesus implies in The Parable of the Talents, creating abundance requires you to move beyond fear.  If you’re too fearful or suspicious or distrustful, you’re going to bury your talents.  And this leads to “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” i.e. sorrow and depression.

You might think that fear and suspicion will keep you out of trouble, but really they’ll just cause you suffering and pain.  You don’t need fear to avoid being a gullible idiot; for that you just need common sense.  To live a life of abundance, you must ultimately move beyond fear and work to create abundance for others.  Otherwise you’ll ultimately be cast out as worthless.  Jesus doesn’t pull any punches here, youse bums.

Serve to create increase for others, and happiness is your reward.  Bury your talents, and you get “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  The choice is yours.

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And that’s my parablog for the day.  

:)

    The Parable of the Talents I Steve Pavlina

    More by this author

    Anthony Dejolde

    TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

    How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

    Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

    Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

    Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

    How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

    Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

    Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

    What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

    1. Create an Exciting Vision

    If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

    You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

    What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

    Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

    Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

      Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

      Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

      Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

      2. Build a Strategic Plan

      Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

      Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

      You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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      The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

      The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

      These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

      3. Get on Goal Planning

      Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

      Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

      Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

      This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

      Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

      These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

      Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

      Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

      4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

      You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

      But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

      Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

      You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

      One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

      Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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      Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

      It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

      5. Completely Commit to Your Success

      If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

      Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

      Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

      Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

      How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

      When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

      And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

      6. Focus on Your Strengths

      To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

      What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

      Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

      If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

      Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

      Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

      7. Embrace the Present

      Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

      Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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      We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

      Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

      8. Calm the Whirlwind

      The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

      Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

      There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

      Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

      Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

      Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

      Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

      In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

      Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

      Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

      9. Take More Time off

      This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

      If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

      You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

      The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

      Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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      Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

      Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

      Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

      10. Celebrate Wins

      Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

      You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

      Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

      If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

      Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

      11. Give Yourself More Space

      When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

      Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

      Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

      If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

      In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

      A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

      Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

      Final Thoughts

      Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

      This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

      The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

      More on How to Be Self-Assured

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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