Tag Archives: talent

Random Thoughts From Atlanta

I spent seven days with my first daughter in Atlanta as she competed in photography at the National Leadership and Skills Conference for SkillsUSA. Besides the almost 40 hours we traveled on a charter bus, I had time to think, read and write as my daughter’s photography competition ended up being two full days.

This post will be a collection of thoughts I wrote down. Be warned, I’m not sure how organized this post will be… but it will be centered on us…

There were about 6,500 students, high school and college, competing in over a 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields in Atlanta. It was amazing to see the scope of talent during the week. I had time on my hands so I walked to other areas to see the competitions. Everyone was a state champion, so the final results were incredible. To name a few of the fields, there was cabinet making, culinary, nursing, and also cool areas like urban search and rescue. 

Sometimes we forget how vast our world is. There are so many careers for us to pursue. So many ways to express our talents. I was humbled by the skills the students displayed during the competition.

State Pins

But I was also amazed at the character of the students and sponsors I met during the week. One of the fun activities during nationals is to collect state pins. I didn’t get extra Nebraska pins, so my pin game was a little rough, but I got some cool pins and met some great people by exchanging or trading pins. It gave us all a common experience to build a connection through.

That common experience is a powerful element to building a community. And a strong community looks out for each other. I witnessed so many small moments of this, of people just helping others. For many of the contests students would have to bring their own tools, or visual aids or make-up supplies. Someone was always willing to lend a hand, or give directions, or rush to hold a door. I would see contestants console or celebrate with another competitor. And in doing so I saw how we could be as a society. Even the staff at the different locations, but especially at the Georgia World Congress Center were a part of the community. Honestly, it took 12 minutes for my daughter and I to walk to her competition area each day. We got to know a few of the staff at the different checkpoints because we stopped and said hello every morning then goodbye at the end of the day. They would ask how the day went, but the best moment was on the last day when they asked to see my daughter’s work. They made her smile with their comments about her pictures. But we also learned a little about them. We learned about the significance of a necklace one of the staff members wore each day. Where another staff member got her cool boots. For just a little while we were a community.

Our nation is divided right now. It is hard to believe that we can be one nation anytime soon, but for a week I saw how we could be. Yes, I understand it was a unique situation, but isn’t our life a unique situation? Can’t we be respectful, helpful, and friendly to each other?  Yes, yes, we can…

This is not really a poem, but this is something I had jotted down late Thursday afternoon while I waited for my daughter to complete her debriefing.

US

We all like a good meal, we just have different favorite dishes.

We all jam out to good music, we just have a different favorite song.

We all want to be seen, we just choose different ways to gain your attention.

We all want to be loved, we just have different ways that we show it.

We all want to look good, we just have different styles.

We all feel pain, we just have different stories that tell of our heartache.

We all have a passion, we just let it shine in different ways.

We all give our lives to something, we just have different things we believe in.

Maybe someday we all can believe in us…

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Filed under Life, Student Work

Our Gift is for Others

The hardest part of our gifts – of our talents – is that they are not made for us; they are made for other people.

Let me explain…

Yes, there is a payoff for our gifts for us. Our talents enrich our lives, brings us joy. In some cases we even become rich and famous from our talents. There is a payoff for us. But we can live our whole life without expressing our talents. We can be happy. We can even be rich and famous without spending a day working on or sharing our talents.

I am a writer, a poet, a blogger. But I could spend my time not writing and be fine…

Here’s the catch.

My gift, your gifts, are meant for other people.

We have a responsibility to give our talents to the world. This is where I am going to dive deep; the why of it all.

I’ll continue to use my writing as an example, but you can swap in your gift for the rest of the blog. Ready?

A void. There is a void in our lives and in the world if we don’t share our gifts. Yes, the world will go on. Our lives, as mentioned before, will go on, but there is a void. We and others will miss moments of joy and inspiration that can change the world. I know, you think I am using a hyperbole here. I am not.

You may have seen the movie, Coach Carter, where the above clip originates from. Or have read the quote, “Our Deepest Fear” from Marianne Williamson. Part of our light is our talents. Our gifts are meant for others.

One of my favorite moments as a poet was the night I attended an open mic in Omaha where I was able to meet a young poet who was inspired by my first book of poetry that I self published in college (And I Never Told You: 20 Year Anniversary Edition). His mom bought him a copy of the book at a local coffee shop when he was in high school. He is now a regular performing artist in Omaha and Lincoln. It was only because of social media that I got to meet him and know the story.

My story highlights a hardship of our gifts… knowing what happens after we give our talent to the world. Even if we become rich and famous, we don’t know how our talent helped someone.

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. He knows his talent is appreciated by people because of the money he earns, by his popularity. But he has no idea how his books gave me an escape during some tough times. Stephen King doesn’t know the joy I’ve experienced sharing his stories with my kids. Taking them to see the new movie version of It. He doesn’t know… and that is OK because his gift was meant for me.

As a writer I know it is hard dealing with not knowing how my words affect the world. I am sure it is the same for you. I write something I think is awesome and nothing. No thumbs up, no like or love icon activated. No retweet. I have to be OK with that because my words are meant for other people. Writing brings me a sense of joy. It is awesome when a poem finds it way out of my head and onto the page. Then I must give that poem to the world for others to use. The same applies to you and your talents. If we learn how our gifts helped someone, inspired them, that’s cool, but usually we will never know. That’s not the reason for giving.

Do you see the void now? If you do nothing with your talents you miss out on a deeper joy in your life, but the world suffers more. When you share your talents you gift the world opportunities. Opportunities of inspiration. Opportunities of joy. Opportunities to change. Your talent is a gift… give it.

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

 

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Filed under Life

An Open Letter to My Children About Talent

Dear Sons and Daughter,

I am amazed by your talents. Each of you have unique gifts that make being a parent awesome. You are lucky to have discovered your talents at such a young age. Each day I see how your talent continues to improve. It is an honor to be a part of that process. As you stand on on stage, make a no-look pass, or draw a new animal, I see a glimpse of your heart. This letter is meant to help you grow and work with your talents in the future. Yes, it is parental advice, but that is a benefit of being your dad.

 

Work

First, it is your talent. You are responsible for developing it. You are responsible for how you use your talent. You decide if you continue to work hard at being an actor, a basketball player, and an artist. No one else has that responsibility (we will talk about other people in a minute). And that responsibility means you can let your talent slide. My fatherly advice is don’t. I know the regret of letting a talent go… of not focusing on the development of a gift. You know that I quit football after my freshman year in college. I still wonder what I could have done on the football field. You know that I write now, but in a way I let writing slide for too long. As a senior in high school I received a Young Author’s award. I let too many years go… I will never get them back. I never got to put on a uniform again… It seems like life is forever at your age, but it is not. Opportunities to use your talent are limited. Don’t waste them. I believe there is a reason for everyone’s talent. Yes, I am about to go deep.

Our talents gives us depth to our lives. It is not the only thing that makes life meaningful.  There is love, family, friendship, but our talents add to that mix. Your talent will enrich your everyday experience. Your talent gives you direction in this life, if you have the courage to use your talent as a life compass. When faced with hard choices, ask yourself which options best benefit your talent. Yes, I am talking about things like alcohol or drugs or any other peer pressure situations. But also about situations life hands you, like friends, job opportunities, situations you have not encountered yet. Of course there are other factors in major decisions, but your talent is an important factor. If you make choices that help you develop your talent, you will find the right direction. I didn’t say easy… just that you will not regret a choice that is centered on strengthening your talent.

Here’s why: other people. Let’s deal with the positive aspect first. I also believe that there is another aspect to the responsibility of our talents. By developing our talents we can help other people see what they are capable of in this life. In a simple, everyday way, our talents make this a better world. You are a role model through displaying your talent. I was reminded of this through a few situations where my writing had an impact for people that I did not know were influenced by something I have written. Your talent shows others what can be. It shows others the beauty of this life, the richness of living. And you never know who that might be.

But here’s the flip side of other people, the haters. I wish I had an answer to this issue, but I don’t. And I know how powerful negative people can have on developing or showing your talent. Their comments and attitudes can make you feel like hiding your talents. Can you image what our world would be like if we lifted people up instead of trying to destroy someone simply because they are good at something? It would be amazing. I can’t stop the haters. But be strong, be courageous, at the end of the day you know mom and I will be here for you. Draw all the lions you want. Sing your heart out. Take the 3 or drive to the basket. Embrace your talents. Work hard. Prepare for the hard spots in life, they will come. But most of all enjoy where your talent takes you, it’s going to be a beautiful life.
Love, Dad.

 

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Filed under Family