The Relationship Between Motivation and Talent

by phil on Monday Jan 26, 2009 7:32 PM
mainfeed, passion and purpose

I got this e-mail newsletter from MAPP, a career-counseling service. The ideas have been echoing in my mind ever since I got it. In particular, the bolded section:


Hydrogen and oxygen are distinctly different elements, but sometimes they combine to form water. Something similar is true for motivation and talent.

Motivation is what we LIKE to do naturally. Talent is what we DO well naturally. They can exist independently, but when they combine, they create something special. They create motivated talents.

People often are naturally good at something (talented), but it just doesn't turn them on. For example, Heather is good with numbers, but she doesn't go out of her way to find tasks calling for that talent. Most people have such talents. But then there are those talents that we really enjoy using. These are the motivated talents, and this is where the magic is

We use motivated talents every chance we get. Most of the time we don't even think about it. For example, Larry has a motivated talent for conversation, and he naturally engages both friends and strangers in dialog. He doesn't consciously determine to do so; it just happens. It's natural and unforced. He enjoys it, and he's good at it. That's the hallmark of a motivated talent.

Motivated talents tend to be irrepressible. They find expression. In fact, if you've ever tried to stifle a motivated talent (either yours or someone else's) it probably felt like you were trying to hold two dozen ping pong balls under water at the same time. Motivated talents pop out, even if no one else is asking for them. And doesn't that make sense? After all, it's what we do well AND enjoy.

Well then, wouldn't the ideal job be one where you can use your motivated talents daily and get paid for it? Absolutely! But more on that later.

What are your natural motivations? Shouldn't your boss know?


I recommend taking the MAPP Assessment test. The questions are really interesting and the results are filled with meaningful words. I've taken a lot out of it since the test.

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