Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Use Your Talents

I wrote yesterday about the genius next door: someone you know socially but have no idea about the contribution they have made to their field. It was inspired by a lovely comment from a reader who pointed out that geniuses have to live next door to someone, and sometimes we need to look up and see who is around us.

The unknown genius next door is one thing, but what if you get introduced to an acknowledged major talent? The word genius is perhaps a bit strong as we tend to think of geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci or Einstein, and so no on else measures up. But there are many more who have been blessed with a talent and have diligently used it to make a real contribution in their work and to humanity.

The other evening I found myself sitting opposite such an individual. Well practiced in the art of small talk I invited him to tell me about his work – expecting a short explanation of his field. Not normally a high-risk question - except if you are sitting opposite a theoretical mathematician. Obviously.

I was introduced to the complexities of ring theory and matrices, although the explanation was dumbed down for my benefit. As the explanation progressed (at reasonable speed) he occasionally looked up and asked “do you recognise this equation?” or “you have heard of this?” or some other such question. As I failed to live up to the most basic expectation comments such as “I’m surprised you’ve not seen this before” were thrown in. If this is making it sound like a maths lesson, I’m doing him a grave injustice. It was a fascinating and friendly insight into a different world, a rarefied place where those who make genuine breakthroughs in algebra live.

He has a mathematical matrix named after him. Awesome.

On the way home I thought about Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day” when The Rev. Rosemary Lain-Priestley spoke of the Parable of Talents. Use Your Talents wisely, Jesus preached. Those who do not were judged harshly by Jesus, but those who do use their talents to generate wealth were praised. It was a fitting thought for the drive in to work.

It seems to me that we are all blessed with talents, but not everyone uses them wisely. I know I go about my day without a thought of any talents I might have, or how they manifest themselves in my work.

As individuals, managers and parents, however, we need to be aware of our own, and others’ talents. We need to encourage the best out of ourselves and those around us. Most of us won’t have some major breakthrough carrying our name, but that doesn’t matter. What the Parable of the Talents teaches is that we should not squander the talents we have. All contributions matter.

I now have a napkin covered in algebra. I’m hoping its similarities with the napkin Picasso signed are recognised. In the meantime, though, I will be using my talents just in case theoretical mathematics never gets to hang in The Tate.


  1. Landscape , Outdoor, Landscape Lighting Installation, Lawn Sprinkler Design, Repairs, Installation, Lawn Irrigation Service, Sprinkler System Backflow Testing at Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Dix Hills NY, Huntington NY, Syosset NY, Smithtown NY and Happauge NY

  2. offers Paving Contractor, Parking Lot Repairs, sealing, striping, Oil and Stone Driveways at Riverhead NY, Quogue NY, Hamptons NY, Southampton NY, Sag Harbor NY, Green point NY, Wading River NY, East Moriches NY, Center Moriches NY, Mannorville NY, Miller Place NY , Mt. Sinai NY,Greenport NY

  3. offers Grading, Excavation and Paving Contractor, Land Clearing Services, Septic Systems, Retaining Walls and Driveways, Drainage Systems, Construction Site Clean-Up, Demolition Contractor at Walhalla SC, Seneca SC

  4. offers Commercial Paving, Asphalt Contractor, and Parking Lot Resurfacing at Queens NY, Nassau County, Bayside NY, Jamaica NY, Middle Village NY, Ozone Park NY, Howard Beach NY, Little Neck NY

  5. offers Parking lot paving, walk way construction, Commercial paving, asphalt, Parking Lot Repairs, Parking Lot Striping, Commercial Blacktop, Parking Lot Repairs, Commercial Paving Contractor, Commercial Asphalt Contractor at New Jersey at Hanover NJ, East Orange NJ, Newark NJ, Morristown NJ, Summit NJ , Union NJ, Hackensack NJ, Patterson NJ

  6. offers Bed Bug Exterminator, Bed Bug Inspections, Bed Bug Elimination, Bed Bug Inspection for Hotels and Residential and Commercial Bed Bug at Palo Alto CA, San Mateo CA, San Jose CA, Belmont CA, San francisco CA, Redwood City CA, Sunnyvale CA

  7. offers Pest Control, Exterminator, Rodent Control, Rodent Elimination, and Pest Elimination at Palo Alto CA, San Mateo CA, San Francisco CA, Redwood City CA, Sunnyvale CA, and Belmont CA

  8. Divorce Attorney, Female Divorce Attorneys and Long Island Divorce Attorneys, Long Island Female Divorce Attorneys

  9. offers hard drive destruction, Paper shredding at Hauppauge NY, Suffolk County NY, Long Island NY, Ronkonkoma NY, Melville NY, Huntington NY, Garden City NY, Farmingdale NY, Westbury NY, Bohemia NY, Stony Brook NY,
    and Nassau County NY