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9 Incredible Ways to Nurture Raw Talent

The reason why I love Arsene Wenger as a coach is that he has invested himself in developing people at the expense of trophies. Groan! I can almost hear the Arsenal fans lament. I do not want to be embroiled in football debates but the fact is, you cannot find a single youngster that was nurtured to greatness by the self-styled “Special One”, Jose Mourinho. Yes, he might have won trophies all over the place, but he has nearly zero track records for nurturing great men. That’s a fact. Not so with the much maligned Arsene Wenger.

But that is the nature of football, isn’t it? We want trophies, victories and qualifications. We mostly do not care about individual growth, which is at the engine of success. Therefore, [ictt-tweet-inline]a great leader is one who primarily focuses on growing great men.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

The same does apply to other areas of life that are not necessarily sports.

  • If you have a manager who prioritizes systems, targets and bottom lines over the growth of the employees, you can know that either the organization or the manager will not be there for long
  • If you have a political leader who prioritizes personal gain, clout and power over serving his people, then you can know that the country will remain embroiled in scandal after another. A large portion of the citizens will remain impoverished.
  • If you have a husband who prioritizes his work and business over his wife, then you know that their marriage will not endure the storms of life. Neither will the family that they are raising grow out of being dysfunctional.
  • If you have a religious leader who prioritizes his religious work above his family, then you know that they will suffer at the expense of his work. Ask Benny Hinn for details.

[ictt-tweet-inline]Greatness today, yesterday and forever will always be connected to growing people.[/ictt-tweet-inline] I cannot over-emphasize this.

Two Great People

The world today is indebted to a certain group of people. Without these special people, some of the spectacular things we see in terms of talent, professionalism and character would be rare. I dare say that such people fall only in two categories:

  • Parents
  • Coaches

Now, hold on one minute before you can exclude yourself from these two groups. A parent is not just a biological mother of father. A parent is one who nurtures, feeds, cares, protects, guides, loves, comforts and covers, primarily to maximize the potential of another human being.

You could be one of them even if you are not a biological parent. In fact, in some instance, some kids end up being parents. A good example is my wife Beth. She was orphaned while a teenager, but she has shaped the lives of all her 6 siblings!

A Coach is more than a mentor or a trainer or a teacher. Not all teachers can nurture, but all coaches primarily are supposed to. Religious leaders, Managers and Business Executives are all Coaches.

The Most Bizarre Torture

Jesus Christ is the greatest leader who ever lived. Facts, figures, history and everything else backs up that claim. One day, he was prompted to make the most bizarre suggestion of torturing some people to death. Who are those people? Those who led children astray…those who hindered their potential. This is what he said,

 “But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck”.

The message is simple: don’t mess with the potential put in people. Don’t kill it. Rather nurture it. This makes me to believe that [ictt-tweet-inline]the greatest, most rewarding and fulfilling thing you and I can ever do is to grow another man[/ictt-tweet-inline] or woman to greatness!

When Coaching, I normally tell people that one of the greatest rewards I get is to see the changes implemented by my clients in their lives being reported by other people! Nothing is more rewarding than that.

That being said, let us look at the 8 ways you can nurture a talent that you have just spotted:

1. Give it A Challenge

Exorcise the comfort zone from the life of a talent. Take no prisoners with excuses. Put sustained pressure on the gift and talent. That is the only way the most precious things on earth have developed: Through pressure and time. With the passing of every challenge, confidence, expertise, prowess, and geniusness develops. Without it, a genius is as ordinary as a failure.

2. Give it a Hero

Heroes keep us in check. They make us humble. I wouldn’t brag about my writing if I hadn’t read the works of such people as Dutch Sheets, Max Lucado, Charles Swindoll and Francine Rivers. I once told Dutch Sheets that when I grow up, I would love to write as he does, and I meant it. Heroes mentor us and if we shape ourselves to them, we grow by adopting their greatness. So give the talent a hero to ape in order to nurture it.

3. Give it a System

[ictt-tweet-inline]For gifts and talents to be developed and nurtured, there has to be a system that you deploy[/ictt-tweet-inline]. In sports, the countries that normally conquer in soccer are those that have rigorous youth development systems. Any talent in any area needs a system to nurture it. That is why I still consider education systems need to be revamped specifically to focus on this aspect. You cannot lump everyone in one system and expect it to churn out everyone unique. Each talent and gift needs a system uniquely tailored to developing it.

4. Give it Competition

If you are a jogger, you will know that you can only do so much alone. However, when you join others, all of a sudden you realize that there are those who are better than you, and then there are those who are worse. Inherently, you tend to want to maintain headship over the strugglers as you seek to catch and overtake those who are ahead of you. Competition is important to nurture talent. Maybe that is why we have examinations?

5. Give it Momentum

Daily is the key. If you want impact, then you must be doing something daily. In order to have great momentum, there must be a task and track system that you need to implement. There will be days when tasks seem like mere drudgery. Your goal is not to read so much in the feelings, but to make sure that come what may, scheduled tasks are done like clockwork in order to maintain momentum. I have said over and again that this is the greatest fight for anybody’s life.

6. Give it Organized Obscurity

Many people seek prominence way before they are ready for it. Per chance it is given to them, it normally kills them. If you read the story of a talented young Ghanaian footballer called Nii Lamptey, you will understand what I am saying. Arsene Wenger is good with this. He hides precious talents and only releases them at the right time. Timing is key. Maturity is also a great key. That is why you need to embrace obscurity as you develop the gift and the talent. The obscurity needs to be organize: You know that one day it shall end and so you work towards the glory.

7. Give it Boundaries

Give the gift and talent some restrictions to maximize it. It needs boundaries and it needs to have freedom within those boundaries. Someone said that without giving gas a boundary in your car, it would not be useful. All powerful things are useless if they are not restricted in some way to release their power. The same applies to gifts and talents. Guard them jealously.

8. Give it A Coach/Mentor

It goes without saying. I know of a great athlete who was a natural talent. She is a coaching client who is now a great human resource manager. Her greatest regret as her talent in athletics is concerned is not having the privilege to have a coach in her life. Coaches see more than we cannot.

9. Give it a Protégé

This balances the equation. You need someone that you can teach. It helps you research and stay on the cutting edge. As much as you know that there is someone who is looking up to you, you will not remain mediocre. You will work on your excellence.


So there you have it!