I’m fascinated by the different talents everyone has. When I say talent, I don’t mean what you do for a living, a great karaoke rendition or a party trick like rolling your tongue, etc. It’s the unique gifts you have that can make an incredible difference, separate from your profession or what role you may have in the community. 

      I became intrigued with this subject all over again when I was reading about James Harrison who is known as the man with the golden arm. No, not James Bond, that’s the man with the golden gun!  This is something a little different. 

       More than 50 years ago, a man names James Harrison survived a serious accident that caused him to lose a lot of blood.  When he recovered, James decided that he would start donating blood. And that’s when he learned about his weird talent. Scientists processing his donation realised that his blood contained a very rare and unusual antibody and the plasma composition could be used to make a treatment for a disease that often-killed unborn babies. So, for over 50 years James Harrison donated plasma every two or three weeks, making 1,173 donations in his lifetime. This was a man who confessed he hated needles but found a way to keep giving. 

      James’ donations are estimated to have saved the lives of more than 2.4 million babies. James never would have discovered this weird talent or saved all these children if he hadn’t just turned up to donate blood because he felt it was the right thing to do. So why did he stop? Because in Australia you can’t donate blood after the age of 81. His ‘golden arm’ was officially retired! 

Image Credit: Tara Delia

      So many of us have incredible gifts and talents that might not be obvious but are valuable to everyone around us.  Sometimes we don’t even recognise what those talents are.  I have a very close girlfriend, Narelle who has had an incredible career in senior Finance roles across a range of industries.  While her technical skills are amazing, her weird talent or special gift is that she can create an oasis of calm in a crisis. Although she is often in a situation where she makes tough decisions that can affect jobs or bottom line, Narelle does it in such a way that people feel respected and listened to. And wherever she works, her ability to create calm in a crisis is valued by everyone that works with her.

       I have another dear friend, Jim Augustine, a colleague at Zuckerberg Institute who has an incredible talent of making spreadsheets and financial reports very interesting. I am not sure if he realises how special this talent is, and he probably doesn’t chat about it at parties. When Jim talks about finance, people go from feeling slightly ill when they tackle preparing the P&L for their start up to feeling confident enough to delve into the number weeds AND keep going. 

     And my weird talent? Meeting people on planes who become friends, business colleagues, Instagram buddies, advisers and supporters of my latest upcoming book.  I travel overseas regularly and well before I get to the airport, I am excited about meeting the fabulous person who has been randomly allocated to sit next to me. 

     More than making an incredible connection over many hours, the magic happens just before the plane reaches the terminal. The person next to me and I exchange details to keep in touch. Then they say, looking a little bewildered, “But I never talk to the person next to me on a plane.”

     This time I will leave you with a challenge.  Discover your weird talent, because we all have one, at least. 

     Discover it, embrace it and shine!!