Talent dey waste

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: babawill2000@gmail.com Twitter: @Babawilly

Some clever people do not believe that talent even exits. They say all things are possible to everyone who puts their hearts to it. These clever people have obviously not watched Messi on the soccer pitch. Training and determination can only take one so far.

Most people would agree that there are domains in which they seem to excel in with relatively little effort. They get great returns on their investment of time in training and may even develop competence without training.

I have wondered if every single human being has a gift in them; an ability that sets them apart from others. Do all people have a unique aptitude for the acquisition of high levels of skill in a particular field that differentiates them from their fellow men?

The title of this article demonstrates my bias. I believe that most people are gifted in something but the development of their talents may not happen.

In the kingdom of animals where only the strong survive, the talents each species has must be expressed to the full to avoid untimely death. The cheetah either runs after prey at great speed or starves. Unlike humans who need to be discovered before they feel validated as talented individuals, the cheetah hits the ground running. Animals do not have crazy parents creating home environments not conducive for the growth of human potential neither do they have governments that do not provide that much needed high quality education essential for young minds.

Animals don’t lack self-esteem or get denied of opportunity for growth.  Daddy Cheetah does not catch the prey and spend it on his side chick and neither does he barter the prey for booze. He eats and shares the food with the family. After a few hundred meals, the lesson is etched in the memory of baby cheetah.

The animal just exits as itself irrespective of who is watching and who is ‘discovering’.

But humans are too clever. They need to be discovered to believe they are talented. And when an authority figure tells them they lack talent they stop trying. The authority figure might be wrong but it does not matter. They have the power to create a reality in the young minds.

There are other indirect ways to tell the young ones that there are no indicators of future promise in their tender lives. Make no provision for their quality instructions and offer no opportunities for their training and they soon get the message.  A spirit of self-blindness to abilities soon evolves and then we can truly say talent dey waste.

The word talent is derived from the Latin word Talentum which is a weight of money. One could view talent as what buys you skills when you travel to the skill shop on the rail coach of training. No one can break into the shop and steal skill. It must be acquired.

According to UNICEF, 40% of children between six to11 years old do not attend primary school.  Since education exposes kids to the various options available to them to apply their talents to, being at home serves them not.

Growing up without reading or writing skills means if these kids do not have physical attributes for sports, they are destined for a mediocre life.  According to the UN, 8.73 million elementary school aged children did not participate in education at all making Nigeria the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

The known determinants of success and high performance usually do not reside in the poor homes where majority of the kids excluded from education come from. However, in these same poor homes might be children supremely gifted with the traits required to achieve world class status in science, sports or medicine. Failure to harness this huge human potential means that the future generations have been robbed of individuals capable of taking the country to the next level.

When leadership is not concerned about what will happen in 30 years, there is a problem for the babies born today. One should expect that all babies born today in Nigeria would have graduated from school in 30 years and be in a job that they report to daily in a car driven from their house on good roads to the office.

It would be a shame to expect the babies born today to all be at home scratching their groins and smelling their fingers in 30 years when their counterparts in other parts of the world are going to work in driverless cars.

Reversing the tide

A parent who did not achieve their potentials may shout their kids down when lofty ambitions are mentioned.  Parents and even teachers might want to shield the young one from future disappointments. In the animal kingdom that does not exist. A cobra grows up biting like a cobra. There are so many things one can learn from the animal kingdom.

If no one teaches you that your natural instincts are unattainable you will not put the brakes on your experimentations.

Proverbs 6

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

It is possible to go on natural instinct and be successful. The absence of a guide or overseer does not stop the ant from consistently hustling. And even if one tried to discourage the ant, it has no capacity for de-motivation or depression.

The ant is just who he is. Like that diamond in the ground that is sure in its identity even if it isn’t discovered, so must men be. Even if parents, teachers, government do not recognise potential, we must trust instincts that lie within to push us to challenge the expectations placed in our talents.

You don’t need to win a talent contest to know you have something special, you just need to be yourself. The cobra bites without enchantment and if you doubted its talent for killing in the past, one venomous bite makes a believer out of you. Human beings must strive to be fully formed in spite of the absence of encouragement. Even the celebrated stars need to work every God sent hour to produce their next big thing, so how much more the rest of us.