Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You Have Many Talents...

...but they are not worth much. I've heard this one too many times.

It hurts when you hear it. Hurts a lot. It hurts more when you hear it from your folks or someone important for you. You think you're good at something, and additionally you enjoy it. You work hard, you achieve something and for a moment you feel like you're just awesome. You have a talent! You're an amazing storyteller, you can express so much in a painting, you can put your soul out there when you dance, you're a natural actor who can drive people through all the range of possible emotions. You are good at something and it makes you feel really special.

But if chances are that your talent won't make you rich, then it isn't worth much. How is this measured? Actors; most live in poverty. Only a few succeed. Writers; most earn peanuts -if ever published. Only a few succeed. Artists, well, just look at Van Gogh, Michael Angelo, they are great now, but they died in poverty. You must ensure a way of living. You must do something that proves to be profitable. Be an accountant, be a doctor, be an administrator, a lawyer, whatever, but better be sure it's something many have made, are making and will make a living doing it.

I am certain all those who told me my talents were not worth much were thinking on what's best for me. I know some, or many of you have been there. You've heard it. You've felt it. Maybe you've even said it to your kids. Those words don't feel good, though. They feel like killers, stabbing our dream to death. They rob whatever special you thought you had because it becomes meaningless. Even when it may not be the parent's intent, it does feel like this.

I don't have kids but if I did, I would never say this or any version of it to them. I would rather teach them to learn the difference between a passion and an interest. If your talent is your passion, you'll find your way among the successful. If your talent is only an interest, then you'll find plenty of excuses to never getting there, despite the talent.

I know I have many talents and I know I would have been brilliant at one of them, at least; if allowed, if encouraged, if nurtured. I believe that one brilliant artist can make more money than one frustrated average (insert here whatever profitable career you like). Why? Because the first loves what he does and is good at doing it, while the latter sees his job as a bloodsucking, slave driving, dream killer task. The first works to make his dream come true; the latter is paid to help others make their dream come true. There is a HUGE difference, and that difference matters and will impact a great deal of your adult life.

I am a 802 years old dragon and I am past blaming anyone for my decisions or mistakes. Maybe a bit  more support and understanding could have helped me to find my place at an early age. Maybe not. I'll never know. I self-teach myself now all those things I wanted to learn centuries ago. I've given my passion CPR and I've kept the secret that I've revived my dream. If it wasn't understood when I was young, it won't be understood six centuries later. I really don't want to waste my breath convincing people of its importance. I know why I have to do this. It might not be important at all for the rest of the world but it's important to me. That should be enough. But that doesn't spare me the message about the worth of my talents from time to time. Unfortunately, the dragon scale armor is not enough to spare my spirits the fall from this

To this

I've been watching the TEDx Talks lately. There's a bit from Why You'll Fail to Have a Great Career by Larry Smith (video below) that has been circling my mind for many days.

<<Passion is your greatest love. Passion is what will help you create the greatest expression of your talent. Interest is not the same thing. Are you really gonna go to your sweetie and say, "Marry me! I find you interesting.">>

Like in a marriage, you will not succeed if your talent is not also your greatest love. When negativity storms arrive, when people tell you it is all a waste of time because you're never gonna make it, because "most don't make it", because you're not J.K. Rowling, or Steve Jobs, or whatever genius they think you need to be to succeed. When that happens, you better be madly in love with your talent, so you commit to it like to a marriage. You need to believe in it and trust it like you do your greatest love so you keep fighting for it. Only then you'll be immune to negativity. It won't matter anymore what others think because as with your greatest love, you DO know and fully understand the true worth, the beauty and value of that love.

Basically my message today is: Don't be a dream killer, even if your intention is good. Better help those behind you to know the difference between an interest and a passion, and encourage them and yourself to go after a true passion. Don't wait six hundred years to do it. You're not a dragon. You won't live that long. And even if you would, it's still a waste of time, opportunities and talent. Take my word for it.

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post first Monday of every month. If you need support, click on the link and join. If you're good to give support, then click on the link and join.

For those who are kindly following the Dwarf Cheering Squad production, The Lord of the Clones, please accept our apologies for the lack of installment this last Monday. Mother Dragon broke her paw during a village raid, (those nasty villagers make such a fuss for being charred, the wussies.) The dwarves got additional chores. It's been extremely busy time at the cave. But Issue #3 will be worth the waiting. Thanks for your understanding.

Talking about support, I owe the Blog Blitz a shout out and I've been delaying it enough. Some of you might be familiar with it, but for those of you who are not, the Blog Blitz is the brainchild of D.L. Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0  This is another amazing group of folks who team up to brighten the day of a person in need of cheering or randomly chosen.

Let me tell you briefly about my experience with this group. I had the luck to be blitzed during the second day of the A to Z Challenge 2013. I was terrified because it was my first challenge. I was pretty new to blogging too so I was clueless and unsure. The Blog Blitz made me feel so good that day. I was overwhelmed to see so many at the cave, but it was worth.

However the one I consider the most amazing thing the Blog Blitz did for me (and I'm eternally grateful for it) didn't actually happen here at the dragon cave. Last year one of my best on-line friends, Jeffrey Hargett, lost his wife. Alex J. Cavanaugh and I asked DL to call a Blitz for Jeff, in spite he wasn't in the list at the time. It was just providential timing that the Blitz happened the day Jeff picked up his wife's death certificate. To be blog blitzed that day meant a lot to him. It was like a huge massive hug.

That wasn't the only time the Blog Blitz has done that. It's great to be blitzed, but it is even greater to be there for someone when it really matters. It's amazing to have the chance to brighten someone's day. It's like giving away a smile. It doesn't take much, it costs you nothing, but it can work miracles for someone. Join in and blitz a smile!

Thank you for visiting the Dragon Cave. Thank you for reading to the end. Thank you for not being Dream Killers. Thank you for not feeding the dwarves and for not making a fuss if your clothes catch fire. I leave you all Dragon Hugs. (Yes, I'm hugging people again.)


  1. And I just came looking for the Clone Wars. . .I have to know what happens next. I'll be back when the dragon feels better.

  2. Hi Father Dragon! I absolutely love this post. I remember many years ago trying to convince my family that writing was what I loved to do and how I wanted to make a living of it. I heard the same arguments, and eventually gave in. I worked as an Admin Asst for over 20 years before I went into EMS (which I loved almost as much as writing). Anyway, I have another chance here to do what I love, and I am taking it; no excuses. You just lit more fire under me! Thanks! Lily.

  3. The wisdom of dragons. The wisdom of this dragon.
    Thank you - I needed to read this today. And probably tomorrow as well. Seeing that you have put a post up puts a smile on my face - and I am sure on many others too.

  4. Great post, Al, thanks for sharing. When I got to the end, where you were comparing a great passion for something to a marriage, with sentences like "You need to believe in it and trust it like you do your greatest love so you keep fighting for it." I was grinning.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Anything that's important to you - be it a relationship, a talent, a job - requires effort, dedication and determination. With those things, you'll succeed.

    Have a great day, Father Dragon! :D

  5. Support the dreamers, because they will change the world.
    There is a difference between interest and passion. And no, that line would never have worked on my wife.
    You are the first dragon though. I see it.
    The Blitz team is amazing. I'd also asked DL to Blitz Jeremy last minute, and within the hour he'd sent out word and it happened.

  6. Passion is one of those things you can't really force and sometimes it just goes awol. It helps to take a breath (not a fiery one), I find, and take a moment to remember how much fun it can be to just do stuff for the hell of it.

    Moody Writing

  7. Great post grandson, enjoyed it and especially enjoyed the TED talk. What a lot of miles that man must walk. Did you realise that took place just up the road from me? I can empathise with what he said. By all means, Al, do as you wish and follow your passion. I wish I had.

    Sorry about Mother Dragon's paw. I do hope it gets better quickly. Big hugs back to both of you.

  8. I think the local villagers need daily charrings until morale improves. Char away, my friend. Char away.

  9. If you're lucky enough to be passionate about something, better to fuel it and let it thrive than ignore it or try to force it down.

  10. Those are wise words. If you pursue something, it has to be a burning desire and a true passion or it will never happen.

    Dream killers are the worst. All it takes is one line. I wanted to be an artist, but one sentence from a close family member derailed that dream and I never recovered.

  11. We need to teach more writers the difference between talent and interest.

  12. The novel that I am working on now I started back in 2005. I had no idea if I was good at this writing thing. I emailed chapters to my mom and she really liked it. So... I got brave and showed it to some close friends. They were not impressed. They didn't come right out and say it was bad, but it was clear that they didn't like it. And right then my muse left. I decided that I was a terrible writer and I shelved it. I got a different idea several years ago and began again. Still had no clue what I was doing and never could figure out how to complete it. I shelved it. Then, the idea I had back in 2005 started calling again. This time I stuck with it and am *thisclose* to finishing it. I have been very careful about who I let read it. I don't want anyone pissing in my ear (aka killing my dream).

    I am learning, more and more, that creativity is all subjective. Some people will love what you create. Others will like it. Some just won't get it. And others will hate it. And it's fine. It's normal. You can't please everyone. We all like different things. But listening to those haters doesn't actually do anything for you.

    So be true to your dream. Stick with it!

  13. Your words spoke volumes to me today my wise dragon friend. We can wait too long to do what truly makes us happy.
    The blitz is a wonderful initiative, I encourage anyone to join in.
    Sorry about Mother Dragon's paw - hope it is on the mend.

  14. I'm sorry people said things that hurt you. :(

    I guess I'm lucky in that I have a paying job with work hours that allow me to pursue my passion and still put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. Finding a balance between passion and responsibility is tough.

  15. Al, I've given this topic a lot of thought, both as a recipient of that "realistic" advice that tells you your dreams can't be how you make a living and as a parent. My daughter loves to sing. It truly is her passion. She is off to college next year to study music. Practical? I don't know. But she loves it and she has to find her way to her passion and life. She won't live on the streets, of that I'm sure. How she makes it work? Well, that is the dream she must unfold. I will just cheer her along. I wish I'd had a bit more of that in my life. Hugs-- isn't it wonderful we were given such unique gifts?

  16. Dream Crushers - I grew up with one. I lived with her every day for 17 years. My skin became very thick but every now and then her voice still rings in my head. But that Novel I started a year ago will be finished in a few months and from there several more are waiting.

    This is an excellent post - I wish every new author / aspiring artist could read it daily.

  17. People make the mistake of judging their level of happiness by how much money they have in the bank. Many achieve success and money and are very unhappy. Chase your dreams and be happy, Al. :)

  18. Sadly the dream killers in my life were those closest to me. I was surprised to get more supportive response about my intention to write from strangers than those closest to me. But I'm still going and the naysayers have at least accepted that I won;t stop. Money doesn't equal happiness. There are miserable successful people out there and I don't want to be one of them. Thanks for the advice Father Dragon.

  19. Not everything of value and importance can be measured in dollars and pounds and pesos.

    Tell Mother Dragon that there is a knight living north of her wishing her speedy and complete healing.

    Glad to see a plug for the Blitz Team. I still think on that day when the blitz came so unexpectedly. Those who blitzed me can never know what a blessing they were on that otherwise painful day. I have the post and all 200+ comments printed, laminated and in a memorial book for Myra. It is truly a treasure.

  20. Not sure how anyone can have too many talents. And talents are our greatest gifts. There's practical thinking and there's nothing wrong with that for those who want that. Dreamers are special. If we don't pursue those dreams for which we have passion, then there is no chance for those dreams to bear fruit and see success. Success can be measured in many ways.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  21. Excellent post! It's so important to remember that our words have power. I try not to discourage people, but I'm sure I've done it before--I'm only human, not a dragon.

    Hugs back to you!

  22. I love this! It's the kind of post that needs to be bookmarked and read again when doubt and insecurity make us feel unworthy, unloved, and unnecessary.
    Your points about not being a dream killer are well made. I can't imagine doing that to anyone, let alone a child.
    I'm sorry Mrs. Dragon got hurt. Please give her my best.
    Don't worry, I'll leave the dwarf feeding to you ;-)
    I'm glad you're giving hugs again, and that you seem to have re-awakened your passion(s). Your comparison to marriage is a good one!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014
    Co-hosting the IWSG

  23. Sometimes people disregard talent looking for "marketable skills". It's sad because developing and following where those talents lead will almost always lead to a more fulfilling life.

  24. I'm gonna be that extra armor for you. I think you have many talents, dreams, and passions. And you deserve to have them and see them through - like the dwarves do my window. Big hugs and a dragon lick!!!

  25. With advanced age often comes the wisdom we need to rise above those of small vision and mercantile hearts. Thank heavens you've succeeded, but then I always believe in dragons and their ability to soar.

  26. Oh Al, such profound words...
    I'm sorry that people have said mean things to you. There is enough negativity in this world, so why be a dream killer? I believe it's important to encourage and uplift others.
    I'm looking forward to the next installment of Lord Of The Clones.
    Hope Mother Dragon's paw is on the mend... and she feels better soon...
    And the Blog Blitz is a wonderful initiative!
    Take care. Stay positive.
    I'm sending special Ubuntu-filled hugs all the way from my corner of the globe-------------((((( HUGS)))))----------
    Writer In Transit

  27. Wonderful post, Al. Personally, I like to focus on positive people and energy more times than not. Life is too short. Interest, talent or passion - it will all come to naught, if we don't at least try. And oftentimes, interests and talents become passions, once we get the hang of something. We need to be open to possibility, and never let anyone define who we are or bring us down.

  28. Bolitas to you, Al. You are so right. I was brought up in a dream-killing atmosphere, never encouraged to explore my heart. It's very wrong to do that to children and I did my best with my own to help them dream what was in their hearts.

    I remember Jeffrey's Blitz. So much love there. :)

  29. Greetings Al,

    You know of your talents. Talents to be cherished. We surround ourselves, as best we can, with those who encourage rather than discourage. My family is barely aware of my blog and that's sad. However, I rejoice within this community and it keeps me going.

    Remember, to hell with the naysayers and embrace the "yaysayers"!

    Hugs, hopes and smiles,

    Your friend,

    Gary :)

  30. I know that scene from Despicable Me well. The only thing my parents encouraged me to be was like them, and I was not at all like them. I will always encourage people's dreams. As a mom now, when I see something my son is passionate about, I encourage it and love it with him. Hugs to you and yay for the Blog Blitz! :)

  31. Al, I know exactly what you mean. When I was a kid I used to love to draw comic strips. I'll never forget telling my dad that I planned on being a cartoonist when I grew up and he told me "I don't think you have the talent for that." That about broke my young heart and it wasn't until years later that I figured out he was trying to steer me in a more stable direction, vocation-wise. Granted, it was a very callous way of trying to "help" me and, to this day, I've never forgotten that.

    The lesson I learned from that, though, was exactly what you said here...."Never be a dream killer".

    Very well said and I hope life has been treating you well.

  32. Hi Al .. I quite agree there's way too much negativity about ... give everything a go - believe in yourself ... and let your talent shine through .. touching others - helping others - guiding others - setting examples ... Wonderful post ... cheers Hilary

  33. I think you are 100% right. I ask myself often, why am I doing this? And the answer is I love to do it. Even if it was never anything more than a hobby, it brings my soul joy...and isn't that priceless?

    Already a blitz team member. It is a great way to show people love!

  34. You pretty much nailed my high school life. Many sides kept telling me I wasn't good enough for this or that, but I kept trying this and that until I discovered writing and stuck with it. Stick with it long enough and be curious to what the naysayers have to say about you now.

    Keep doing what you love, Sir Dragon! :)

  35. It's so important to encourage children even if it seems hopeless. That's the only gift I want to give my two boys.

  36. Aloha Al,

    I'm Papa to three boys - and while they are all still very young - I am so supportive of whatever they find and like/love. I don't care if they are dancers. electricians or garbage disposal technicians, I just want THEM to be happy with THEIR choice :)

    Thanks for sharing and hope that Mrs. D is feeling better!

    Love ya, ,my brother from anotha mother :)