Saturday, February 16, 2008

Self-Capitalization, Self-Actualization

Once upon a time most, if not every, child is told that they “can do anything.” Each of us, from a young age, is instilled with the notion that our dreams are the only limits that we have. Over the course of my years I have seen so many people with this potential to be something more. So many times have I seen so many people that have been referred to as “bright,” “intelligent,” or even “brilliant,” but what sets them apart from those that exceed the mere “brilliant” mark or otherwise find a way with which to show for such talent, drive, or another singular trait?

These traits, such as drive, intelligence, or other talents…how many people do you know that have them, but they exist in a purist form inasmuch as they are in a vacuum: Only as a talent held by the person, but serving little purpose outside the immediate vicinity of the person possessing it?

What I have come to discern is that it is often difficult for a person to capitalize on their talents and their skills. Often we find a skill existing in our “mental toolbox” which is what the job market requires and sell it to an employer for a paycheck that gets us by. Perhaps that skill is something that falls towards the more prominent end of our skill sets, and perhaps it is something more ancillary; regardless, so many people end up selling this skill, alongside their time, to an employer for less than what they perceive that worth to be. And, aside from the clear-cut illustration above, the emotions that we have—such as fear, uncertainty, and doubt, often obfuscate the reality of things. No matter how talented we are, no matter how strong that skill set of ours really is, those things which we feel will often get in the way, forcing us to value our competence for more or less than it actually is.

In physics there is a term called escape velocity. In order for the space shuttle to lift off from the surface of our planet and successfully launch into space it needs to reach a velocity of about 25,000 mph; by traveling at such a speed it is able to build the necessary force to not only to defeat the gravity of the earth, but it also builds momentum such that the rocket or space shuttle can travel into orbit somewhere on the manner of 100 miles into the stratosphere. In much the same way, each of us are searching for that escape velocity: For our talents, our skills, and those things that we feel define us to reach the next level. Some do so for the fame, some do so for the glory, others for the honor or the sense of accomplishment. Others still do it for the money. When I say “capitalizing on one’s talents,” I mean simply for you to ask yourself: For what do you wish to trade your skills for? If personal honor is it, then you need to fuel your skills with passion, determination, and going that extra mile—doing those things which others will not do—in order for you to reach the point where you’ve properly capitalized on that skill.

Although it is said that you shouldn’t do anything for anyone other than yourself, in the words of Shakespeare, “to thine own self be true,” each of us are still dependent on the pyramid set forth in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs wherein we need food on the table, a roof over our heads, and to feel secure. In capitalizing on your talents you need to remember that one of the keys with Maslow’s Hierarchy is that one needs to successfully meet the needs of each layer of the pyramid prior to moving onto the next; if the satisfaction requirements is lost or not met for any layer on the Hierarchy, then you must go back to that level of the Hierarchy and satisfy those requirements before moving on. Translate your talents into getting a roof over your head, increasing your security and social needs, then into building your reputation and…as time progresses…towards investing in self-actualization.