Behavioral MetaDYNAMICS – Talent

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BmD: Capability: Part 8 –


  • Talents

  • Skill

  • Knowledge

  • Use

  • Design

  • Scaffolding


What is the difference between a talent and a

A strength is the ability to consistently provide
near-perfect performance in a specific activity.

Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought,
feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.

Talents, knowledge, and skills — along with the
time spent (i.e., investment) practicing, developing your
skills, and building your knowledge base — combine to
create your strengths.

For example, being drawn toward strangers and enjoying the
challenge of making a connection with them are talents
(from the Woo theme), whereas the ability to consistently
build a network of supporters who know you and are
prepared to help you is a strength. To build this
strength, you have refined your talents with skills and
knowledge. Likewise, the tendency to confront others is a
talent (from the Command theme), whereas the ability to
sell successfully is a strength. To persuade others to buy
your product, you must have combined your talent with
product knowledge and certain selling skills.

Although talents, skills, and knowledge are each important
for building a strength, talent is always the most

The reason is that your talents are innate and cannot be
acquired, unlike skills and knowledge.

For example, as a salesperson you can learn your products’
features (knowledge), you can be trained to ask the right
open-ended questions (a skill), and you can practice
making a sale (investment). However, the innate tendency
to push a customer to commit at exactly the right moment,
in exactly the right way must be naturally occurring and
cannot be learned.

The key to building a fully developed strength is to
identify your most dominant talents, which are likely
found within your top five themes, then complement them
with acquired knowledge, skills, and investment.

 – Gallup

A Talent Is an Innate Capability

The Spanish have a phrase which nicely captures this
connotation: “CompaƱero, no hay camino. Se hace camino
al andar
.” A translation is: “My friend,
there is no road. You make the road as you walk.”

Yet, for a leader, design and scaffolding of TALENT into
strengths that can be applied in the right circumstances
is a leverage point for postmodern leaders.

Couched within the other elements of CAPABILITY DYNAMICS,
the understanding of TALENT =
self-knowledge>>self-awareness, and the "application" of
that knowledge to design and scaffolding.

BLANK SLATE (@BS) Is a Danger

A VERY important idea that has surfaced with our
experience in the world of life, work and play is the idea
that "anyone can be, do, have, become, or contribute
anything" @BS. And it’s become a socially accepted norm
that often is deadly to leaders to resist @PC. After all,
we don’t want to diminish people, or lose the Pygmalion
effect which has always proved to be important.

Yet, reality is shifting about what we can do and how much
of it we can do in the time required. Complexity, an
increase in the number of variables coupled with often
long time delays in cause and effect, is creating a real
challenge for everyone and anyone leading in the face of
accelerating complexity.

There are two important ideas that I want to impress upon

1) People learn faster, deeper and dimensionally broader
in areas where they have innate TALENT.

2) Deploying TALENT with design and then scaffolding that
TALENT will become a key competence for postmodern
leaders. You won’t see that anywhere yet, but the way in
which we recruit, mold, manage, lead and collaborate with
TALENT will become the difference between failure and
success in and over time.

We could say the same for Capability in general.

TALENT’s Hidden Secret

Inform through limitations, reform through TALENT!

Self-knowledge>>Self-Awareness lends itself to discover
and model our limitations as much as our strengths, but
the "secret" is to design for TALENT and scaffold limits.

In my almost 3 decades of coaching professionally, I have
seen very little change (that wasn’t the result of change
already being present–not yet triggered) where people
were not living, working or playing in TALENT areas.

There is a natural immune response to change requiring us
to give up our advantage provided by TALENT. This can be
extremely difficult for people, as leaders meet with the
limits of their TALENT and suffer negative consequences.

However, what has been successful for me as a coach,
guide, mentor, advisor and consultant in development has
been to help people take full advantage of their TALENT
and minimize the damage created by limits.

Natural Resistance to Change

We avoid change that is not required or not needed,
preferring instead–except in the very few whose TALENT is
morphing themselves–to remain engaged in experiences that
reflect their TALENTS.

FEW of us have the luxury, or so it seems, to work
consistently in areas of our TALENT so we make tradeoffs
necessary between happiness and success to get what we

Idea @F-L-O-W

The idea with shifting from an underlying operating system
@BS that says "anyone can be, do, have, become and
contribute anything to an operating system @F-L-O-W which
minimizes tradeoffs through design and scaffolding of
TALENT is a huge shift in the way we have to think about

As complexity reigns and accelerates, fewer and fewer of
us have the TALENT to be, do, have, become and contribute
anything but in those narrow areas where we have TALENT.
This is not a self-imposed limit, or a limit imposed on


It’s a recognition that we have entered a new age that
requires us to view TALENT in a much different light and
to elevate the nature of talent to the consideration of
how capability emerges in life, work and play.

We all have natural talents, but
the greatest leaders are unusually aware of
theirs. – StrengthsQuest

Dr. Clare W. Graves, a researcher in the 50s and 60s
identified a VALUES SYSTEM which helps us understand this
"shift" in the way we see TALENT as a part of CAPABILITY

While written more than 3 decades ago, the meaning is

Design & Scaffolding

This shift in our thinking that everyone can, and wants to 
–> therefore should @BS is replaced by the idea that
everyone can’t, won’t want to –> therefore should NOT
@F-L-O-W opens the door from the "great" leader to the
"collaborative" leader who is quick to recognize
individual limitations — their own limitations — and promote
design and scaffolding that emphasizes TALENT and
minimizes limits, self and other imposed.


This system is a metasystem because doing something
somewhere affects other components in an interdependent
process. If we can get leaders to collaborate in design
and scaffolding of TALENT and limits, we "automatically"
promote "positive AFFECT." attunement, well-being,
happiness and penultimately sustainable success.

In our NEXT edition of CAPABILITY DYNAMICS, we focus on

I hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas and tools during
this process, which you can use for your own

development as well as your work and leadership with others.

If you have comments, please feel free to leave them here on the blog.

You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting,
coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer
developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are
interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and
contributing… to helping people have lives.

PS: To learn more about our 2015 Program,
Behavioral MetaDYNAMICS and to enroll in the experience,


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