Sunday, September 21, 2008

That's Nice, What Else Can You Do?

It's 9 o'clock Sunday night and I'm wrapping up the weekend filled with football, food, computer repairs, Appleseed Festing and cats by watching the Emmy's.

Josh Grobin just demonstrated he can almost rap. Well, he sang a medly of TV theme songs that I would not have expected coming out of his classical voice.

Which brings me to this article from Harvey Mackay:

Open the door to your hidden talents

There was a man who played piano in a bar. He was a good piano player. People came out just to hear him play. But one night, a patron told him he didn't want to hear him just play anymore. He wanted him to sing a song.

The man said, "I don't sing."

But the customer was persistent. He told the bartender, "I'm tired of listening to the piano. I want that guy to sing!"

The bartender shouted across the room, "Hey buddy! If you want to get paid, sing a song. The patrons are asking you to sing!"

So he did. The piano player who had never sung in public did so for the very first time. And no one had ever heard the song "Mona Lisa" sung the way it was sung that night by none other than Nat King Cole.

He had talent he was sitting on. He may have lived the rest of his life as a no-name piano player in a no-name bar, but because he had to sing, he went on to become one of the best-known entertainers in America.

There's a lesson here for all of us. We all have hidden talents. Good companies understand this and give their employees opportunities to try different jobs and learn new skills. They never know when they might discover another Nat King Cole.

As proof, I offer you the array of reality television shows that invite contestants to sing, dance or perform their professed "talents" (which some actually possess) for a panel of judges and viewers. I give the contestants credit for trying!

I have a friend who is constantly asking me, "When is the last time you did something for the first time?" He wants me to stretch myself and to experience as many new adventures as I can.

I often advise people to learn and try as many skills as they can handle to make themselves indispensable to their companies. There is another benefit: You just might find a talent you didn't know you had, or discover a new job or career to pursue. Companies like 3M allow their researchers time to try their own projects, whether or not they are related to their regular jobs.

One local television reporter has been job swapping with viewers—among her experiences, she's been a fire fighter, dog trainer, city manager, florist, baker and sanitation worker. She has demonstrated some hidden talents, along with a terrific sense of humor. So far, it doesn't appear that she is ready to abandon her TV gig.

I also advise people to take up hobbies or volunteer to give their brains a break from their regular routines. The hidden benefit there is that a change of scenery can stimulate your creativity, which in turn helps you discover other hidden abilities.

If you don't expand your wings you might end up like the eagle that thought he was a prairie chicken. There once was a hiker who found an eagle's egg high on a mountain. Not knowing what kind of egg it was, he carried the egg down to the prairie and placed it in the nest of a prairie chicken.

The eaglet hatched with the brood of prairie chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the little eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what his fellow prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled as they did. And he flew no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, he told himself, that's how prairie chickens are supposed to fly.

One day the young eagle saw a magnificent bird flying high above in the cloudless prairie sky. The magnificent creature moved across the sky powered only by an occasional flap of its powerful wings.

"What a beautiful bird!" exclaimed the young eagle to one of his prairie chicken brothers. "I wonder what it is."

"That's an eagle, the king of birds," clucked his companion. "But don't get any ideas, you can never be like him." So the young eagle never gave it another thought. And so he lived out his life, close to the ground, thinking he was a prairie chicken, never daring to soar.

Mackay's Moral: How will you know if you don't try?

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