“The saddest thing in life, is wasted talent. And the choices that you make will shape your life forever.”

-Calogero, A Bronx Tale

If you haven’t seen A Bronx Tale (shame on you), you’ve probably heard the phrase “wasted talent” discussed in one way or another. It might’ve been in reference to an athlete, a student, businessperson, or anyone who has been gifted with rare abilities. Along with rare talent comes opportunities, and decisions that will shape the role that these gifts play in your life.  Much like finances, talent can be invested in and grown, or it can be buried and wasted. In the same way, it can also be shared with others, or it can be kept to yourself for the extent of your life.


The Parable of the Talents is a short story in the Bible where Jesus was using a financial analogy to describe the importance of how you use the gifts that have been entrusted to you:

“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave $5,000, to another $2,000, to a third $1,000, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given $5,000 showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

The servant with the $2,000 showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

The servant given $1,000 said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

 The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most.’ (Matthew 25:14-30, The Message)

Joe Deadlift

While the purpose of this story reaches far beyond just the gift of ability, it does paint a great picture of what we can do with what is given to us. In the strength industry/community, there are many gifts (or talents) that you can have. Some may find their gifts and passion provide the foundation to become a world class lifter, some may have the ability to coach, others to teach, write, the list goes on and on. If you are reading articles on this site, you likely have a passion for strength. Even if you aren’t the most physically gifted person, the obstacles you have to work around to get stronger may give you the ability to relate and teach others in a way that someone else can’t.

Now, I think it’s important to remember that like with finances, these gifts have to be invested in order to grow. Even though you can be blessed with physical or intellectual gifts, they won’t take you to the highest level without a lot of hard work and discipline. Even the most gifted athletes have to work incredibly hard to reach the top level; the same goes for coaches and other professions. From a personal standpoint, we do our gifts the most justice when we dedicate the time and effort to bring them all the way to fruition. This obviously falls within the framework of the other important priorities in your life (family, work, social life), but sometimes it can be easy to feel like you’re being selfish by investing time in what you’re good at and passionate about doing. On the contrary, investing in these things the right way can be a great testament to others and inspire them in their own lives.

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From the standpoint of helping others, these gifts provide us the opportunity to reach others that may not have some of these abilities or opportunities themselves (or not understand yet how to bring them to fruition). The coaches and lifters that I respect most in this industry have been the ones who don’t hesitate to invest their time and knowledge in others, often without asking for anything in return. Clint Darden is a great example of someone who, through the ups and downs of his own health and training, has never ceased to help others and use his knowledge, skills, and gift of communication to the best of his ability. Along with helping others, he continues to invest in his own training, and make the most out of all the things he is passionate about. There are many great examples of people like Clint who give selflessly to others, and through our own actions we can choose to either contribute to the positivity that builds this sport, or the negativity that can discourage others.

The ways everyone approaches training and coaching will vary, and that’s a good thing. Some may do it exclusively to make a living and provide for their family, and others may do it as a smaller part of their life in addition to another job. Most people fall into the second group. No matter what path you are on, there are always opportunities to humbly and passionately invest in your gifts, and freely give of yourself to others. These are the kinds of behaviors that set an example for others and live far beyond one single lift or accomplishment. Fight the temptation to “bury” your gifts out of fear that you aren’t good enough, or selfishness that you want them all to yourself.

Your gifts and talents are a voice to others, and your actions and attitudes will either discourage or they will inspire.

So what are you doing with your gifts?

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