Competition is huge in our society. From reality TV shows to Monday Night Football, from Facebook pages to Elementary school fundraisers. . . even Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Youth Groups at churches hold somewhere in their practices an element of competition.
Ads for child nutrition supplements show soccer moms comparing the energy and performance of their kids. In high schools all over the country, teenagers vie for the best looking college application by achieving the highest awards and positions in extra-curricular activities. Moms of young children are always concerned with the development of their children compared to other kids of the same age. . . even without trying, we compete daily. With ourselves, with our family members, our friends, our colleagues, and in our communities.
“Keeping up with the Joneses” wouldn’t be such a well-known saying if it weren’t universally true. Competition is just part of our being, whether we like it or not.
We judge information by the same token. If it’s met with critical acclaim, a documentary or published study becomes that much more important and recognized. If it gets onto the NY Times Best Seller List, we’ll be more likely to trust the integrity of a book and it’s author.
But this element of competition, this natural esteem that comes from being acclaimed, known, and excellent – only measures outward talents. How many books are sold. How many experts agree with an idea. How effective a product is. How beautifully and masterfully a violinist plays, or a dancer moves. Outward talent, easy to see and appreciate, is extremely valuable in our society.
More difficult to recognize – and much less publicized, honored, and cultivated – are talents that cannot be measured by a competition. Talents like being a good listener, a comfortable collaborator, a dedicated care-giver, or someone who boosts the esteem of others. These sorts of talents can be seen even earlier than outward talents like dancing, musical aptitude, or giftedness. They manifest in daily interactions with others, and continue for a lifetime.
Compassion, collaboration, and cooperation are qualities that are, unfortunately, frequently overlooked, but incredibly important to the health of our society. Hopefully, shining light on these inward, unique talents of the heart will lead to a more cooperative and compassionate generation to follow!
Personally, I can tell that my three-year-old daughter would be an awesome collaborator. She always has something interesting to say, enjoys conversation, and negotiates and elaborates like a pro. We make up songs together, create stories, engage in role-play games, and talk about what could be. . . in addition to her enthusiasm, agile nature, and rhythmic sensitivity (all of which can be measured and pertain to certain outward talents, like singing, dancing, and gymnastic strength) I can see her collaborative ability, and I try to nurture it and help it mature as she grows.
Can you see a talent of the heart in your child?
What types of activities encourage your child’s unique inward talents?
Identifying Talents of the Heart:
Here are some suggestions for identifying “hidden” talents of the heart. . .
- Think about your child’s most challenging behavior. What helps your child handle this challenge? What type of coping works for him? How are you (or another caregiver) able to provide effective comfort, or help him find a solution to a problem? These answers can help you see how your child’s heart and mind work together, and can lead to insight about inward talents.