What is your natural gift?

I was talking to my friend about her golf swing.  She said it is her natural gift.  She is an incredible athlete and that is absolutely a natural gift.  If you ask most people what they wish their natural gift was it would be to have a musical voice.  That is a helluva gift.

She asked me what was my natural gift.  It really got me thinking.  The first thing that came to my mind was cooking although is that a natural gift?  It is something I love to do and I certainly have become better with age.  I believe that natural gifts can be honed as the best vocalists continue to take voice lessons.

Everyone has a natural gift.  It can be as silly as being able to curl your tongue into a clover.  As parents you want to nurture your kids natural gifts but you also want to nurture your kids natural desires and passions that they are drawn to.  Is one the same or are they completely different?

Ask yourself, what is your natural gift?  Is it something that has been nurtured?  Is it something that has gotten better with age?  Is it something you never embraced?  Certainly a fun question at a dinner party.

Comments (Archived):

  1. LD Eakman

    Listening well. Hearing what other people are actually saying rather than the words coming out of their mouth. I hope that’s my natural gift and its certainly something I continue trying to develop.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love that. It that taught or innate?

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        LOVE the taught or innate question!

  2. LE

    Extreme sensitivity to microexpressions in peoples faces as well as vocal intonations. Both allow me to read a great deal into what someone is actually thinking, what they mean, and who they are, and what they might do. And while it’s not 100% accurate, it’s accurate enough to be extremely helpful in many situations.

    1. kbb

      That’s a powerful gift. And interesting. When did you first begin to understand that you were processing others’ signals naturally and better than most?

      1. LE

        When I was a kid. I had an experience (several of them actually) and one was even very similar to what happened to Dan Ariely [1] regarding observations that he made when he ‘got burned’ and spent time in a hospital. I had another experience at camp as a kid. My parents dropped me off so they could take a business trip like they did every summer. The counselor (he might have been 16 or 26 for all I know) saw that I was crying. So in front of my mother he says gently ‘it will be ok just come with me’. As my mother fades into the distance as we start walking, he starts pulling on my arm harder and faster. Finally we get to the camp lunchroom and he flings me toward a table and say ‘go sit there with the rest of the crybabies!!!’. Really happened. So these two experiences to anyone who knows me are called ‘LE got burned’ and ‘Sit over there with the rest of the crybabies’. They are used to explain parts of predicted human behavior that are seen and experienced. Ever since that time I’ve been very alert and fascinated with human motivation and behaviors and trying to predict them. I was the kid in the neighborhood who would go talk to the weird older guy that everyone thought was nuts and figure out how to get him to talk. Most people don’t know the signals they give off in their voice or their face. I also would spend time with my dad as he interacted with people and watch the people’s reactions. (I could go on and on about this as I already have).Dan says: “since I had little else to do and badly needed distraction, I began to notice and record things.” With me in addition to the hospital trauma I was quite shy and didn’t do well in social situations. So I would just watch what other people did and how they acted to entertain myself. Watch their faces and how other people reacted.[1] http://nymag.com/scienceofu

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Wow. This is fascinating. Want to know more.

          1. LE

            Well to put in another natural gift is the one where I don’t need to go to a therapist in order to understand why I am the way I am (both positive and of course negative). Because I can easily figure all of that out on my own and trace it back to some experience that I had which is what I believe certain types of therapists do. That actually is a really big gift because it allows me to get by difficult situations by understanding what is going on in my head.For example the reason that I got burned was because my mother setup a hot water vaporizer in my sisters room (or might have been my room) and it was on a folding table with the cord stretching to the outlet. So I jumped over the cord (like a kid would) and one of my sisters said ‘do that again show (other sisters name)!!!’. So I Iistened to her and did just that. But this time my foot caught the cord and the hot water went all over me. So I can trace that back as the reason I am so a) cautious with kids (better than most parents) and b) don’t trust and listen to what others tell me w/o thinking and questioning first. c) Parents are not perfect and make mistakes. And the camp incident dovetails with this as well given what happened.

          2. Susan Rubinsky

            Formative experience. We all have them.One thing, there are all kinds of therapists. Some don’t go back to the root cause (and sometimes there is no ascertainable root cause OR knowing the root cause does nothing to solve a problem). When my son was having some problems in high school, he saw a behavioral psychologist. She didn’t care about underlying causes, only helping him learn to see when he was repeating a negative pattern and then helping him devise strategies for developing new patterns. Powerful stuff.

  3. JLM

    .We all have tons of natural gifts. In much the same way that it takes a bit of friction to reveal the character within, it takes the right situation to find those gifts. The good news is we can consciously put ourselves in the right place to find those gifts. That is the real challenge.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Love this.

  4. Pranay Srinivasan

    I think my natural gift has been absorbing stress since I was 4…

    1. Gotham Gal

      People take in stress differently. You are obviously able to bob and weave through it with ease.

      1. Pranay Srinivasan

        I’ve learnt over the years.. (also had some good teachers 🙂 ) But I’ve just consumed, absorbed, processed and moved *thru* stress way too much in life.

    2. JLM

      .What was the play before 4?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Pranay Srinivasan

        lack of cognitive powers usually saved me. I was always a happy child. 🙂

        1. JLM

          .The greatest blessing anyone can enjoy is a happy childhood.Almost all long term wickedness can be sourced back to an unhappy childhood.If I could give the world one gift, it would be a happy childhood for all.When you are poor, you do not know you are poor, if you are happy.I was bathed in happiness as a child. Total, unbridled love and happiness. In some ways, it was all my parents possessed and they gave it to me without reservation.My only regret was it ended too soon. My adolescence was stolen from me and I was forced to be an adult long before I should have been. But, I had that happy childhood to fall back upon and it carried me through it all.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Pranay Srinivasan

            I’ve had the inverse. Being a happy child didn’t mean I had a happy childhood. It was rocky till I was 10 and then was amazing till I was 18-19.But the feeling of being an outsider, yet being zen-like in acceptance has stood me in good stead. I may appear excitable but I am really quite stoic about stress. Probably my only redeeming factor.

          2. JLM

            .I believe the happiest people — beneath the surface not at the skin level — are those who belong to nothing while respecting and understanding what they can.On the “road less traveled” we learn so much more about ourselves.Entrepreneurs are often loners, unable to join in and follow the flow of the world, wanting to change the river’s course. Entrepreneurs would rather be the skipper of a row boat than the #3 on the Queen Mary.When we test ourselves, we locate our centers. When I was a young lad and in the Army, I would undertake the hardest most elite training possible with the words on my lips being, “Hmmm, I wonder if I can do this.”When I discovered I could — which I did not know before the training began and which genuinely surprised me — I then applied that to other things.Much of stress is how we interact with it. We give it control over us by caring too much about things we, often, cannot change. Stress can also provide the friction which exposes the character beneath the outer covering.Stress, like all other disadvantages of life and station, is the fuel which can propel us.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Pranay Srinivasan


          4. Susan Rubinsky

            This is a fascinating discussion. I grew up in a completely dysfunctional family, yet, I had a wildly wonderful childhood (don’t get me wrong, it was completely F***ed up but I didn’t realize it at the time and, also, because there was no oversight, I just forged ahead and did whatever I wanted to do which is what made it so wonderful. It also helped that we lived in a beautiful seaside community.). My mother, these days, always jokes that it’s “Nature not Nurture” because my brother and I came out of it with completely different abilities and inabilities. But she is wrong. It’s exactly the nurture — which was no nurture — that made me who I am.Once, in a job interview at at a tech startup, I was asked: “What experiences from your childhood will help you in this job?” I had never been asked such a question and I paused, thought about some glossed over answer, then just told the truth. I said I had grown up with divorced parents at a time when it wasn’t very common, lived for many of those years below the poverty level and that I had had two inept drunken parents during all those years. And, that because of those circumstances, I had incredible freedom from a very young age to do whatever I wanted and I took full advantage of it. I said, “You can throw anything at me and most of it will just roll off my back and I’ll just keep forging ahead.”I went home that day and thought, “Well, I blew that interview.” But I hadn’t. That interview was in 2001. I had lunch a couple of years ago with the COO who had originally asked me that question all those years ago (we’re still friends and try to get together every year or so). He told me over lunch that my answer to that question was exactly why he hired me (plus one other answer… more on that, below). He said he had two thoughts at the time: 1) That anyone who is so truthful as I was, would also be truthful in the work environment, and 2) He believed I would rise to face any crisis with dignity and professionalism.The second question was : What is your favorite movie and why? I answered “Chinatown,” then launched into a dialogue with him for over an hour. We hit on many different themes which could take a whole blog post to delineate.So, I’ve segued a bit… But, in a nutshell: hard knocks will break you or make you. It’s your choice.

          5. Gotham Gal

            I totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing this. My parents got divorced when I was 15 and there wasn’t much oversight either. It really made me who I am too

          6. Susan Rubinsky

            It was good my parents got divorced. They were crazy together. Both drunks with screaming and brawls and throwing things/breaking things. It was so peaceful after they were not living together in the same house. Oddly, my parents are best friends now. They actually even go on road trips together (both had second marriages and are both widowed now).

          7. Pranay Srinivasan

            Yep, My parents separated when I was 7. The shouting and fights started when I was 4.

          8. Pranay Srinivasan

            Whoa. That is some powerful history right there! What doesnt kill us makes us… stranger 🙂

          9. pointsnfigures

            Chinatown was/is a great movie.

          10. Susan Rubinsky

            I rewatch is every year or so. It never gets old. I also think it’s one of Jack Nicholson’s finest moments (that, and Carnal Knowledge)

          11. pointsnfigures

            I want a sandwich….

  5. Elton Graham

    What a great question. I think our gifts are those that we gravitate towards with an almost invisible ease. When we do it, it feels like play (e.g. golf, cooking, singing). It feels like we are expressing ourselves and it comes easily. As a parent, I love the idea of naturing our kids natural inclinations to want to do X or Y, but also instilling in them the love of curiosity. Combine what they are interested in, what they are naturally good at and keep them curious. Seems to be a pretty good formula. When we we lose our curiosity, these seems to create a gap between liking to do this gift and mastery of a true gift. My daughter (now 10yr old) obsessively likes to draw (and she is very good at it). I gently encourage her to draw by showing interest and/or giving her space to draw on her own accord (she loves drawing comics) and keeping her curious on how to apply her creativity in this area. Just like we are all gifted, we are all creative people. I think this goes hand-in-hand.

  6. AMT Editorial Staff

    It’s a tricky statement for kids — “natural gift” — almost suggests that have it or don’t versus the ability to practice and work hard and develop any skill/talent. For adults, it’s a fun question! I’d say mine is being direct and non-judgemental. I (almost) always see the best in people. I get disappointed. But I’d rather shoot high. 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      those are good qualities.

  7. Susan Rubinsky

    My natural gift: As my son says, “You are the animal whisperer.”I have far too many stories to tell but suffice it to say that animals just like me. I am that person that animals — even wild ones — just trust and come right up to in any circumstance. It’s like magic. I do not know why it happens. It has always happened to me, since I was a little girl.

  8. pointsnfigures

    I think it’s possible to have more than one. Also, knowing what you don’t have as a natural gift is as important as knowing what you have!

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      This is exactly why I can’t stand when educators tell kids to “Do what you’re passionate about.” Some kids are passionate about something they suck at. As my son wisely noted when he was in high school, “Don’t do what you’re passionate about. Do what you are good at.”

      1. pointsnfigures

        follow your interest-which may be different than your passion. use your interest to build value. Building value encourages satisfaction, which you become passionate about.

        1. Susan Rubinsky


      2. LE

        That ‘passion shit’ came from popular culture reverse engineering of people who had over the top success or achievement where they attributed that to having passion for what they ended up doing and an unrelenting (might say stupid) zeal to succeed. Ignores the failures. Those are never talked about. [1] The problem is most people won’t ever get to that point or even near it. And of course it also ignores the fact that success will make you think more positively of whatever led you to that point and not luck which plays a huge role. As with anything in life it’s a matter of degree and nuance. Not good to choose a career entirely on what you can earn a living from and not the exact opposite either. Happy balance.Also I am reminded of what my dad said to me when I told him I wanted to be an airline pilot. He said ‘you will never be at home and always will be traveling, no good!’. He then said ‘become a lawyer or make money from business and you will be able to buy a plane and fly when you want. Or be a doctor, whatever. So especially in this day and age practical concerns do matter. Healthcare is way more expensive than when he told me that. Also something (and this is super important) that you like doing on a casual or hobby basis ‘passion’ is not necessarily what you will enjoy doing every single day as a job for the next 40 years or whatever. No way for a kid to know this anyway.Do what you are good at.True but you also have to keep in mind the potential and degree of competition for what you are good at. I could have easily been a photographer right out of college as I did it and made money in college and high school. But first it seemed to easy and second it appeared that there were many people willing and able to do photography so it would depress what I would be able to earn. (Music and arts are like that lot’s of people are ‘good enough’ very few will make a decent living from it. )[1] Like one of my neighbors growing up who wanted to be a rock star and got his song played on the radio and pursued a career in music but never made it.