The Talent to Use Your Talent

I was listening to Ezra Klein interview Jeff Tweedy, about creativity and creation, and Jeff’s latest book, “How to Write One Song”. Ezra mentioned a concept he attributed to Natasha Lyonne, the “talent to use your talent”.

…she talked about this idea of having the talent to use your talent. That there is the talent to do the direct thing — screenwriting, or songwriting, or comedy, or whatever it might be — and all these things around it that allow you to use that, and that often what is not there for people is the talent use the talent.

Someone may be talented in their art, but there’s an additional layer that is critical to success. Being able to use that original talent productively. You may be a fantastic song writer, but if you have a desire to share your art with the world, and have no skill in doing so, your songs will remain your personal hobby. I don’t see this exclusively as marketing, but also professional skills that might include networking, effective communications, keeping meetings, being punctual, being trustworthy.

The thing that struck me about the quote is that I think we have all met someone who is phenomenal at something, but we wouldn’t actually want to work with them, despite their talent.

I asked myself, “am I more talented at my work skills than I am at design?” Those tangential skills come more easily to me, but there are days where I stare at the screen, and the solutions just don’t flow out of me. Perhaps that’s just being self-critical and of course design is the hard part?