Don’t Sin Against the Talent
By Jacey Eckhart
Singing legend Tony Bennett was struggling mid-career when all the doors that used to be open to him closed. Someone gave him advice that changed his life:
“Don’t sin against the talent.”
The helper guy didn’t mean only that Tony was supposed to give up drinking and drugs and start getting enough sleep at night. Instead, Tony figured out this meant he also had to do something he hated—sing scales every day.
“Skip scales one day and I can tell. Skip scales two days and the band can tell. Skip scales three days and the audience can tell,” said Bennet in his memoir Just Getting Started.
Not doing what he had to do to make the most of his talent was, in fact, a sin on the order of lying and stealing and coveting things up and down the food chain. It was a sin—an immoral act, a transgression against divine law. Not a concept we think of much these days.
Sinning All Over Yourself
Although few of us have a talent so big we could legitimately refer to it in the third person, we all do have talents and we sin against them all the time—especially when we are in the hallway waiting for the Next Door to open.
Our “talent” is not necessarily some creative or athletic gift. When I say talent, I really mean the something makes up the most of your personality.
Your talent could be your natural optimism. Your brilliant organizational skills. Your persistence. Your equanimity with your kids. Your ability to talk to strangers.
Your talent is usually that trait other people compliment you on that you dismiss as ordinary. It is not. Seriously. Otherwise no one would mention it.
The thing I hear a lot is, “I love your energy.” I have no idea what this means, but I am going with it.
All I know is when I write well, positive energy pours out of me effortlessly, and when I don’t write well, I am a walking pit of despair.
So if I went with Tony Bennett’s formula that not doing what I know I should do is a sin against the talent, it would sound something like this:
Skip writing one day and I can tell. Skip writing two days and my kids can tell. Skip writing three days and expect the cops to be taking me away.
Okay, okay, that’s a bit much. Skip writing three days and expect a meltdown.
I’ve got a girlfriend who is like this about her workout. Hers goes like this:
Skip the workout one day and my kids can tell. Skip the workout two days and my boss can tell. Skip the workout three days and my clients can tell.
Here, try yours:
Skip ______________________________one day and _________________________can tell.
Skip ______________________________two days and ________________________can tell.
Skip ______________________________three days and _______________________can tell.
The reason I love this exercise is it acknowledges that each of us has a talent (really!!) and we owe it to the world to do what we must to make it shine. Often that something feels selfish, like taking time to write or run or sleep or cook vegetables. Instead, this exercise shows we owe it the world to do that one thing that makes our talent shine.
At no time is this more important than when you are in the middle of your Next Door Project. Take the time to do what makes your talent work best because it is your little talent shining away in the darkness that will be the key to make your Next Door open. Trust me.