When I think of giftedness, I think of Howard Wong.
You know, Howard.
You don’t know Howard?
Well, you should.
This is Howard. This Malaysian boy is 3 or 4 years old in this video, which I think was taken this year. (You can find the awesome excerpt below, but if you want to see the full version, you can watch it here)
My reaction: “GET OUT. No way. IS THIS REAL?”
Did you react the same way?
Well, apparently, he is the real deal. This is Howard at 3 years old:
Did he just wake up this way, you ask? Well, this is Howard at 23 months:
And before you fall completely off your chair, this is Howard at 18 months.
Howard is talented. He is gifted. But he, too, started somewhere. At 18 months, he was drumming to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, and 3 years (or so) later, he was drumming to Joan Jett. No matter how gifted he was at 18 months, he kept on drumming. And because he kept at it, he evolved from being gifted to being PHENOMENAL.
Every person has his or her own gifts. Can you run really fast? Speak eloquently on stage? Climb mountains without fear? Invest your finances wisely? Cook a delicious dinner? The list never ends. Some gifts may stand out more than others, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that every gift is special, and we all have at least one.
Everyone is gifted with something, but not everyone becomes phenomenal. I remember a tweet I read from leadership speaker and author Mark Sanborn: “Every day your skills are changing. They improve through use and intentional practice. They decline through lack of use and misuse.”
When you use your gifts and when you develop them through practice and with the help of a mentor, your gifts are enhanced. You create art. You make an impact. You bless others. I may not know Howard, but just watching his videos brightened up my day. His gift blessed me.
What are your gifts? Do you practice and develop them? Do you even use them? If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions and you have some spare time on your hands, then you might want to try coming up with a Gift Growth Plan.
- Think of 3 things that you’re really good at. How would you know? Doing them comes easily to you, you enjoy doing them (they’re also called “strengths” because they make you feel strong), and people have recognized the gift and complimented you on it. Are you organized? Are you creative when it comes to crafts? Are you good at graphic design? Chances are that you have more than 3 gifts, but for the purpose of being able to focus, let’s work with 3.
- Plot out how you can use them or practice them more often. If it’s already part of your job, ask yourself where else you can contribute your gift. Maybe you can do some volunteer work that makes use of your specific gifts. Believe me, there are organizations out there that need what you have to offer.
- List down the resources that can help you use or develop your gift. Ask yourself: What do I need? Is there a class I can take? Do I have a good friend who can serve as my mentor? Do I need supplies or equipment? Write them down so you know what you need to work towards.
- Create action steps. Don’t stop at what you need or what you lack. Give yourself some “next steps” to act upon. Obstacles can be overcome by chipping away at them.
If you need a guide, you can download a sample Gift Growth Plan which I created for a fictional person (if you prefer mind-mapping, you can download this sample). But please don’t be boxed in by the templates and the methods–the point is just to get the wheels in your head turning again, so you can get those creative juices flowing!
You know what else struck me about Howard? The sheer joy on his face while he was drumming. In the course of using, practicing, and developing your gifts, don’t forget to have fun, too! More than anything, this is why I encourage being intentional when it comes to using your gifts: because when you use your gifts–especially when you use them to help or serve others–you feel “more alive.” And isn’t it pure joy to feel fully alive?
This Eric Liddell quote from the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire comes to mind: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” God smiles when we use the gifts He gave us!
Before I end this, a note for the parents: it’s never too early to help your child recognize and develop some of their gifts. Howard Wong is proof of that. Try doing this exercise with your kids too!
Do you have a gift/strength that you get to use regularly? How does it make you feel?
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If you liked this, you might be interested in these related posts:
- Stopping the Somedays
- So You Want to be a Volunteer! (Part 1)
- So You Want to be a Volunteer! (Part 2)
- Do All Leaders Really Have to be Readers?