A Meditation on Education: Giftedness

Experience teaches me again and again that the word “talent” is tossed around far too casually…

and that our careless use of the word causes all kinds of damage.

To begin with, the “talent” label invites undue adulation for the precious few who “have it” and undue resignation among the vast majority of we mere mortals who “don’t have it”. The result? A stagnant culture that invites the “talented” to rest on their laurels and the “untalented” to quit before even trying.

Similarly, the “talent” label is easily exploited to rationalize one’s own failure to succeed… while discounting the hard-won accomplishments of those who do.

But once we cast these self-fulfilling laments and crutches aside, we are free to realize…

… that success in any endeavor has far more to do with opportunity and hard work than we care to admit… rendering us all so very responsible… to ourselves… and to each other.

… that ability is typically far too narrowly defined. I may not have perfect pitch, exceptional hand-eye coordination, a photographic memory, an athlete’s frame, or a genius IQ, but I still have so very much to offer: a mind and a heart, two seeing eyes, two able hands, two working legs, and a voice… to mention but a few blessings so easily taken for granted.

But why stop there? Why not include sensitivity, passion, empathy, curiosity, enthusiasm, industry, courage, persistence, patience, honesty, kindness, compassion, diligence, and devotion? Are these not the very things that propel and channel my innate endowments, no matter how humble or exceptional, in service to a life of purpose and meaning?

And so, a “big” talent does not make us more than others and a “small” talent does not make us less. It is only what we choose to do with what we have (or not) that really matters.

To that end, let’s begin our journey with profound gratitude… a gratitude that recognizes so many “ordinary” things that we all possess as the most precious gifts they truly are.

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