I’ve reached a stage in life when I don’t sit around and wish I had more talents.
I don’t have time or reason to spend time thinking, “Man, I wish I could do this or that.”
That was my first reaction during a recent workshop when the facilitator asked a group of business professionals, “What talent do you wish you had?”
Guys in their mid-50s don’t get asked that question often. We like to talk about talents we once had. Fish stories. They get bigger and more animated with age.
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At the business workshop, the talent question was an ice-breaker. You know. An exercise to help strangers in the room feel connected and closer. My small group of young men and women said they wished they had better talents in everything from parenting to gymnastics to math to playing the piano or guitar
I nodded my head to math and playing the piano or guitar.
Growing up, I daydreamed my way through math classes. I have paid the price dearly as an adult. It’s funny. As a kid, I could figure out batting averages and earned run averages perfectly to the decimal. But when it came to fractions, well, I started daydreaming about playing ball.
Gymnastics? I’m not sure that I could climb onto the beam much less jump around on it. I’m good with having enough balance to put on my shoes while standing.
Play the piano or guitar? Love music but just don’t have the hands or patience to learn.
In hindsight, I wish I was young and lefthanded. I’d learn to throw a sweeping curveball. Maybe I could pitch in the pros until I was age 45.
What talents do I have?
I can write. I wish I could write better. I wish I could write a country song or poetry. When it comes to poems, I have trouble rhyming verses. And sorry, poems without rhyming verses seem empty, like fries without ketchup, or a horse without a saddle, or a heart without love, for all you country fans.
I can eat ice cream with the youthful energy of a kid on his eighth birthday.
I think I drive my car well. Others don’t, though. I get called Mr. Magoo, occasionally. I find myself in the passenger’s seat a lot more. That’s OK. Admittedly, I get lost occasionaIly. They need to make street signs a lot larger. And there’s always a shortcut, right?
Here’s the short list of desired talents that I shared with my group at the workshop. It was totally different than their lists:
HANDYMAN: Like my father before me, I can break more than I can fix. I’m jealous of guys who can fix their toilets, rewire their garages and fix their cars. But I’m sure there’s a guy out there who just changed his oil and wishes he could write this column every other Sunday.
PUTT: It’s what separates the low scores from high scores. It looks SO easy. Relax. Measure. Approach. Head down. #@%$! Three putt. I wish I could hit the golf ball out of the sand, too. Some golfers make it look so easy. For me, it’s like hitting a 90 mph slider. No confidence. The sand flies. But the ball stays in the bunker. #@%$! Put me down for a snowman.
FOCUS: Not sure of this is talent or inherent trait. I can watch two days of golf on TV. I can watch a doubleheader baseball game in the summer heat. But give me your speeches, workshops or lectures, and I’m daydreaming again like that kid looking out the window in math class.
Better focus would help me remember where I parked my car at the mall or grocery store. Just once, I’d like to walk out of Target and directly to my car with confidence, instead of clueless.
Improved focus would give me the patience to read directions or instruction manuals. I’d add several days to my year if I just eliminated all the redos and followed the directions the first time.
I shared my list with my small group and I got a few nervous laughs.
I don’t wish for more talents. Realistically, I’m fine with the talents I have. We’re all good at some things and not-so-good at others.
For the record, I think improved focus would help my golf game, too. But there’s no hope for my handyman skills. These ham-shaped hands are genetic.