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Helping Teens and Young Adults Discover Their Unique Talents to Succeed

Kim holds an M.A. in counseling psychology and has helped thousands of business leaders and individual employees perform at their best.


Achievement comes from within. Even though there are people who teach, motivate, and encourage us in our quest, what we do and what we achieve is up to us. We are in charge of our success. Yet, when it comes to achievement, we’re not all made to do the same things; we are all different. That’s because each of us receives a unique combination of gifts and a unique blend of abilities and desires. This is good; it’s what creates our unique purpose in life. It’s what makes our life special.

Now if you look at the most successful people in the world, you’ll find these individuals have something in common. These individuals discovered, and did something with, their unique skills and abilities. They used their unique gifts. These individuals focused on their talents and used them to succeed—which is exactly where achievement comes from.

Achievement comes from what we’re passionate about. It comes from where our talents lie. Achievement comes from what we are made to do. This makes sense. When we focus on what we’re good at, when we do what we enjoy, and when we put our time and energy into what makes us energized and excited, we shine. We excel.

Believe it or not, we can work really hard at something we’re not meant to do and fail. This is a difficult concept to accept because we talk a lot about hard work and its requirement for success, yet hard work is often not enough. While it’s certainly necessary to achieve our goals, something else is also needed. We need more than hard work to succeed.


Putting Effort Into What You're Passionate About

Imagine working really hard at something you don't enjoy doing, aren’t interested in, or just don’t have the knack for. What do you think will happen? What results do you think you’ll achieve? Relatively speaking, not much. It is true sheer will can move you forward in many situations, even if you’re not that interested in what you’re doing. However, you’ll never get as far as if you put the same amount of time and effort into something that you’re passionate about, something that gets you excited, or something that comes easy to you. Just imagine what you could achieve if you worked hard at something like that.

Hands down, success and achievement come from what we’re made to do. It comes from our unique gifts. Success comes when we understand what we’re made to do and work hard at it. This is the sweet spot. This is where the magic happens. This is where happiness and success intersect.


How to Help Teens and Young Adults Succeed in Life

As parents, it is our goal to help our children succeed. We want them to be happy, we want them to be successful. We want them to avoid the mistakes we made ourselves, or at least have a smoother ride. All of which is easier said than done. However, we can help. One gift we can give our children is to help them identify and develop their natural talents.

Now it’s important to note that, as parents, it’s not our job to determine what our child’s talents are. It’s not our job to tell them what they must do in life or what they should develop. This is counterproductive. To truly be successful, everyone needs to discover their individual talents for themselves. We must complete this journey on our own. However, this doesn’t mean guidance isn’t beneficial or needed. In fact, there are many things we can do as parents to help our teens and young adults as they try to figure it all out.

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3 Steps to Guide Teens and Young Adults in the Discovery of their Personal Talents

Step 1: Talk to Them About Talents

Talk to your teens about natural talents. Share how each and every one of us is given a unique set of talents. These talents are given to us to help us succeed and achieve, which means they should be identified, developed, and pursued. In addition, our talents help define our purpose and give us a direction or path. Working with our talents will also lead to contentment and happiness. Focusing on our talents can help create a good and happy life.

Step 2: Explain That You're Here to Support Them

Share that it is your child’s job to identify these talents. You’re there to help, but this is his or her journey to complete. Help your teen or young adult understand it can also take time. While some will know their talents at an early age, for others, it can take years—and that’s OK. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it. No set timeframe to know the answer. In fact, for many, a longer journey is what’s needed. The longer journey actually helps us get to the right place.

The key is to pay attention, listen to yourself, and stick to the task. And while you, as the parent, cannot do this task for your child, you can help. You can point out what you see, provide examples, and talk about what your child is good at and what comes naturally to him or her. Reinforce that you’re there to support the journey.

Step 3: Discuss How to Identify Their Talents

Talk about how to identify your talents. Share that what we’re made to do tends to be what comes naturally for us. It’s what we understand without much explanation. It’s what seems like common sense. In other words, we think everyone must understand the topic, be able to perform the task, or know how to solve the problem because it’s easy for us. We’re actually surprised when others aren’t as quick witted about the subject, or don’t seem to understand the situation the way we do. To us, this isn’t a skill or a talent, because to us, it’s obvious. Yet, this is exactly what a skill or talent is.

Not everyone will be able to grasp the subject the way you do. Not everyone will be able to perform the task like you. Not everyone will see the situation as clearly and easily as you do. This is a clue. This is a talent. And, if the same things are also really energizing for you, that is you love talking about the subject, learning about it, and thinking about it. If time flies by while you’re doing it, then you’re on the right track. These are additional clues.

In Conculsion

Finally, after identifying one’s talents, the challenge will be to figure out what to do with them. Sometimes it’s clear what to do with an interest or skill, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we just don’t know how to apply our talents in real life. If this is the case, encouraging your child to find out how people with the same talents use their gifts. Tell him or her to observe what those with similar interests do. In time, he or she will discover there are all kinds of ways to use one’s skills and talents, and most likely your child can apply them to whatever he or she is doing right now, even if it’s not a long-term goal.

In the end, this is a journey (for both of you), but one worth taking. Guiding your teens and young adults towards discovering and developing their talents is a life-long gift you can give. If your child is able to identify and harness his or her talents, he or she will have a solid foundation to build upon, one that a majority of successful people tapped into as well. And while this certainly doesn’t guarantee success, nothing ever does, identifying and developing our talents does give us a head start and a great chance to seek success and achieve.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Kim Egan


Carol on July 13, 2020:

Educative piece of information in helping adolescents to identify there talents specifically under this period of Covid-19 lockdown.

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