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Pancakes or Tap Dancing?

Jena Hintze on Jan 20, 2017 4:15:00 PM

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“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” –Pablo Picasso

If someone were to ask you what you were good at, what would you say? Would it be tap dancing? Making the best pancakes? Or are you really good at handling difficult situations? Whatever it is, do you think of it as a gift? And is it something you share?

Now that I’ve got you thinking about what you’re good at…let’s talk about the value of that gift, how to find it, and how to share it.

Valuing of Your Gift

There’s a 1998, mostly black-and-white film titled Pleasantville and I’d guess about 30% of you have seen or heard of it. The story revolves around a brother and a sister who time-travel to the 1950s and are stuck in what appears to be a perfect world, full of seemingly perfect, all very similar people. 

Sounds boring, right? 

Luckily, the movie goes on to dive into deeper issues, but the point resonates from the beginning that a world full of perfect, cookie-cutter individuals is dull. Think about it.  If everyone were great at making chocolate chip cookies, your Grandmother’s famous family recipe would be rather insignificant. People wouldn’t be in awe at the talent of a ballerina because they would all be able to do the same pirouette. And no one would get paid for any services; why hire a plumber when you have the talent to fix the pipes yourself?

This is why our individualized talents and gifts are so important. They are what make life interesting and diverse. They give us something to chase after and strive towards. 

By recognizing your talents and cultivating them you are creating your mark on the world. What’s even more fun, is no one is given just one gift. There are people out there who can diffuse a difficult situation, start their day with exceptional pancakes, and end it with a tap dancing performance. Like Picasso said, life is about finding your gift, but I’m going to edit that to finding your gifts. One of the best ways to find your gift is to try new things…because wouldn’t it be a waste to have a gift and never recognize it?

Finding Your Gift

The major frustration in this value, find, and share your gift process is being patient.  For example, have you ever heard someone say, “You’re a natural!” This can be an indication of talent, but that doesn’t mean the person who just made a nothing-but-net jump shot on their first try is the next Michael Jordan. They’re going to have to put in a little work to get there. 

In my experience, finding a gift comes in four parts. First, you identify something you want to try. Maybe you went to a new restaurant and had a delicious, beautifully presented dessert and want to try your hand at creating something like it. Second, you take the risk and give it a try. Whether that’s taking a course like the ones we offer here, or finding a recipe on Pinterest and giving it a go at home. The third step is determining whether or not you enjoyed what you tried and decide if it’s worth pursuing. 

The last step is developing your gift and being patient. You may repeat this process a dozen times before you find your talent and, after some practice, are ready to share it with the world.

Sharing Your Gift

As Picasso said after you find your gift, “the purpose of life is to give it away.” What good is a gift if you never share it with others? It’s very likely that in the process of finding your own gift you met people willing to share theirs with you. Think of how that felt. It may have been the encouragement and insight you needed to keep going. Now’s your chance to pay it forward.

Still…sharing your gift can be intimidating. There’s the ever-lingering, “I’m not an expert. What qualifies me to teach this to someone else?” question. 

I’ll answer this question with another a question: what defines an expert? Have you ever heard of someone with a PhD in pancake making? No? Me either. What qualifies you to share a gift is experience and enthusiasm and determination and willingness. The result is so worth it as you could be the person who helps someone else discover their gift. 

We’re lucky to live in a world with such diverse talent amongst us. 

If you’re looking for opportunities to share your gifts, we are always looking for new instructors to share on any topic they’re passionate about. Feel free to email me at hintjena@isu.edu to talk about teaching courses. 

You don’t have to be an expert.

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