I recently had the opportunity to perform a skill I didn’t even know I had until a few months ago.
I was at home after a conference where my presentation had included a performance of a staggering mathematical demonstration using an array of numbers which combine in a series of surprising ways. I use this impressive demonstration of memory and lightning calculation to illustrate and emphasize a few key points depending on which keynote I’m delivering, and it is always a topic of conversation among the attendees afterwards.
Anyway, I had returned to Atlanta and was playing the piano – one of my favorite ways to relax. The piece I was playing that day was Robert Schumann‘s Romance in F#, Opus 28 No. 2, to which I was introduced by my college piano professor Dr. Geraldine Collins. (Incidentally, I owe Dr. Collins much love and gratitude for using this piece to help me learn to appreciate the subtleties of tone and dynamics at the piano.) The Romance in F# is a wonderful piece of music, and as I played it my mind drifted back to the recent speaking engagement. I discovered that afternoon that I could perform the required calculations to present the mathematical demonstration… while simultaneously playing the Schumann.
“This,” I thought, “is the nugget of something special.”
Last week I had the opportunity to put this in front of an audience for the first time, while performing on a magic cabaret show at a Nashville theater. While I’m still working on the overall staging, I can tell already that this could become a signature piece. (If you’re in the Nashville area, you’ll get another chance to see this unusual performance piece on May 3; keep an eye on my Facebook page for details.)
One reason I have always liked my number grid presentation (even sans piano!) is that I often use it to talk about combining our skills and resources in different ways to achieve our goals. When we face change or challenge, we may have to call upon multiple skills and experiences to reach our desired goal. It may mean a team has to change to combine skills and talents differently, but it can also mean that an individual has to combine his or her own capabilities in ways they’ve never imagined.
Even though I don’t know you, I am convinced that you have amazing skills and capabilities that you don’t even know about. They lie hidden in each of us, buried beneath layers of negative self-talk and false preconceptions about the nature of creativity. Why am I so certain? Because nobody else on earth has the specific combination of skills, experiences, and observations that you have. Every person is, in the most meaningful senses, a “diverse” individual. Even people who share common experiences perceive those occurrences as individuals and bring their own interpretations to what they have seen and heard.
Because nobody has precisely the same skill-set and experience-set that you have, nobody can replicate the combinations that you can produce.
When is the last time you tried combining two seemingly unrelated skills? Did you have an interest as a teenager that you could try combining with what you do now? How does your hobby inform your professional life, and vice versa?
Experiment with combining your interests and skills in unexpected ways. You may discover the nugget of something special, too!