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Inspirational and Insightful Quotations #23 --- Talents (Skills, Abilities)

Updated on December 3, 2015

Quotations on Talents (Skills, Abilities)

Don't confuse talents with skills or abilities. Talent is a natural bend for doing something. Skill is something acquired through study or practice. Ability is a combination of the two, plus a will to use them.

—Paul H. Dunn, New England Mission Missionary Bulletin, Boston, Mass., April 1, 1971.

A single talent which one can use effectively is worth more than ten talents imprisoned by ignorance. Education means that knowledge has been assimilated and become a part of the person. It is the ability to express the power, to give out what one knows, that measures efficiency and achievement. Pent-up knowledge is useless.

---Orison Swett Marden, Success Magazine, New York, N.Y., December 1906.

Ability is a matter of growth. No matter how well you may be endowed with brains and special talents, you will never come into possession of your powers until you have grown into them.

---Henry Clews, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 17, 1913.

The man who has application and the talent of adaptation will beat out the man with a theory and a set of fundamentals.

---Henry Edward Warner, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va., Dec. 18, 1915.

Capacity is largely a matter of confidence. The plane of a person’s labors and success is largely determined by his own assurance.

---William T. Ellis, Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, N.Y., Oct. 22, 1910.

Take an honest invoice of yourself at least once a year; no man ever helped himself by overestimating his ability.

---E.W. “Ed” Howe, Youngstown Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 16, 1911.

Genius and talent are choked by the insane desire to mold ourselves according to the social demands until we become famous nonentities in the world.

---Billy Sunday, Washington Herald, Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 1918.

Ability is the measure of possibility. Ability plus opportunity equal responsibility Ambition, decision, energy and perseverance–these are the quartet that make the man.

—William M. Anderson, Sr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 30, 1921.

Clearly, a commitment to talent involves at least two subsidiary obligations: (1) The achieving of a rigorous self-discipline; and (2) The mastering of the craft, for which the talent is a potential.

—John Z. Bennett, Louisiana Schools, Baton Rouge, La., December 1962.

Talents are like seed. Plant the seed and they multiply. Lay them on the shelf and eventually the life goes out of them.

—Charles L. Allen, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 15, 1953.

A man of genius conceives things; a man of talent carries them forward to completion.

—Elbert Hubbard, quoted in Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 28, 1905.

A person is a complex mixture of many things. Biological makeup, family, school environment, friends, and one's own ever changing way of thinking combine to form a unique personality. Likewise, that personality's way of expressing itself or its growth towards true life may and should be unique. The way a personality expresses itself, or its reaching and grasping for knowledge of itself, of life's meaning and purpose could be called talents. A talent is a method, perhaps yet undiscovered, that one uses to voice the character and personality that is his. A person has many facets. A person may enjoy singing when he is happy, writing poetry when sad, playing baseball when desiring solitude. Or, a person, not having full talent in any of these areas, may express himself through a special talent of loving and listening to others. But no matter what form it takes, a talent is a way of personality expression; and it, like the personality expressed, in its quantity, quality, and relationship to other characteristics, is unique. A talent is a constructive way of expressing one's personality. There are other ways of expression--some stifling to growth, others dangerous (mentally or physically or spiritually). Many persons suffer because they choose to emphasize undesirable aspects of their personality, or they choose to pervert otherwise good talents. Such methods are not true talents. A talent should always be a means of seeking, expressing, or declaring personality and personality growth. A true talent will express inner truth and light, and eventually contribute to light itself.

—Gregg I. Alvord, Pioneer, Hokkaido, Japan, January 1972.

Ability multiplies itself, if given attention and encouragement.

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Feb. 13, 1945.

A tragedy is a man who has talent and no initiative.

---Carl J.G. Brown, Atchison Daily Globe, Atchison, Kan., Oct. 29, 1938.

Success is always persecuted more than failure is. Success often is kicked around, and struck, and imprisoned. Success is not a quiet, comfortable condition. Success partially is the ability to carry on while being threatened on every hand. Success is the condition of suffering to that a wholesome principle may live. There is no glory in success, except as it keeps a glorious principle alive.

---Carl J.G. Brown, Atchison Daily Globe, Atchison, Kan., Dec. 5, 1931.

Willingness is the supreme talent of life. Willingness is the golden key to both usefulness and happiness. Willingness is the monitor of every good talent. Every talent is a liability instead of an asset unless coupled with it is willingness. Willingness is the golden key by which talents may be released for service and turned into channels of blessed service. Without willingness every talent is dead.

‑‑‑James L. Baggott, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 4, 1934.

Every man owes it to himself to systematically catalog his capacities, write them indelibly upon his mind and measure his daily conduct and accomplishments by the total. Personal efficiency results from striving to fulfill each separate capacity. Humanity as a whole will attain the fullest measure of its creation only when each individual thus systematically lives to capacity. Have you the capacity for kindness? Have you the capacity to be square? Have you the power to study your job? Have you the ability to encourage others? Have you the ability to help your neighbors? What other capacities have you that set you off from your fellows? And finally, what use are you making of EACH of them? Install a control board for yourself and check up. It may help you to a richer and fuller life.

—Vernald William Johns, Garland Times, Garland, Utah, Nov. 14, 1929.

Most of the time our duties are not arduous enough to call for the exercise of more than a few of the billion brain cells with which we are equipped. We work a little and say we are tired. That’s just a bad habit—this custom of feeling tired. Man only scratches the surface of his real capacity. There are reservoirs of resources in the brain which we rarely tap, which we never tap. Being satisfied with superficial results, we use our brains only superficially. Now and then it is a good thing to give the brain a real workout, to do some hard, concentrated work, to exercise the mind.

---Grove H. Patterson, Meriden Record, Meriden, Conn, Oct. 30, 1929.

Talent is capacity for achievement. It is a principal to which interest may be made to accrue by industry. No ability exonerates from response. But given one degree and the demand for proportionate return is inexorable.

---Davis W. Clark, Youngstown Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, Sept. 28, 1918.

Don’t talk about your abilities. Demonstrate them.

---B.C. Forbes, Washington Herald, Washington, D.C., Dec. 30, 1922.

Ability involves adaptability.

‑‑‑B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., Jan. 21, 1922.

Ability is arid without application.

‑‑‑B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., March 1, 1931.

A man is not a failure because he does not have many talents. He is a failure when he refuses to use the talent that he does have.

—Robert E. Goodrich, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Sept. 19, 1927.

We think more abilities are lost or underdeveloped through lack of persistent effort than from any other cause. What is more, we believe that very many of us have unknown riches in our talents we have never given opportunity for maturing.

—John Edward Carver, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Oct. 24, 1949.

There is no tragedy in all the ages like the everyday tragedy of men who fall short of their possibilities. The fine, strong character is the man who has discovered his own abilities, the gifts within him, and then with an unfaltering purpose, developed them. The noblest work in the world is that which gives men the opportunity of self-expression and growth. Everyone has a story within him, but few there are who can tell it for want of opportunity and training. How many are the people born with music in their souls who never have sung; how many the orators who never have spoken; how many the actors who have never trodden any kind of stage. Greater than the exploration of new territories, finer than the ruling of commonwealths is the unfolding of latent human powers. Happy is the man who can lose sight of the ugliness about him in the artistic creation of something fine in his own life.

—Gordon B. Hinckley, Millennial Star, London, England, Sept. 14, 1933.

Skill is the result of instinct added to practice.

—Grantland Rice, New York Tribune, New York, N.Y., Jan. 14, 1915.

Patience is no heroic ingredient, but it happens to be the cornerstone in the foundation of skill.

—Grantland Rice, New York Herald Tribune, New York, N.Y., July 15, 1924.

Ability is the ship of life in which each individual embarks for the voyage to the port of success. Fidelity is the ballast which gives uprightness, steadiness and security. Ability without fidelity is like the ship without ballast. Therefore loyalty is indispensable to success.

—William Spry, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 8, 1910.

The ability to do something that ought to be done is a call to do it.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Mustang Enterprise, Mustang, Okla., Dec. 5, 1912.

It is better to have little talent and a noble purpose, than much talent and no purpose.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Norman Transcript, Norman, Okla., Jan. 29, 1897.

Talent is unminted gold.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Sag Harbor Express, Sag Harbor, N.Y., May 18, 1898.

The man who will not improve his talents steals from himself.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Western Kansas World, Wakeeney, Kan., June 17, 1893.

The great man is he who realizes the limits of his abilities and the possibilities of his capacities.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Willmar Tribune, Willmar, Minn., March 12, 1902.

Capacity is that which grasps a thing—knows how it ought to be done—ability is that which executes.

---Smith Baker, Lowell Daily Courier, Lowell, Mass., July 27, 1885.

Your success is the equal of your applied abilities.

---George Whitehead, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., April 5, 1918.

A person must first develop skill before he can hope to have diversification of skills.

---Jack Williams, Sr., Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Oct. 20, 1937.

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those who sing the best.

‑‑‑Ray Nelson, The Herald Journal, Logan, Utah, Jan. 9, 1958.

Efficiency is merely the applying of our talents to the best purpose.

---James Richard Hopley, Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Amsterdam, N.Y., Nov. 27, 1915.

Some men have brains; some have ability. It’s the combination that gets results.

---Hazen Conklin, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Nov. 17, 1915.

A pound of “push” with an ounce of talent will do greater things than a pound of talent with an ounce of “push.”

---James Milton Racer, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., Jan. 22, 1903.

We all have a wealth of ability which we have been too busy to develop.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 23, 1929.

Better to cultivate the love of labor with modest talents than to waste time brilliantly.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., May 7, 1930.

The best investment of labor is in one of your undeveloped talents.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., May 3, 1930.

If you live according to your ability you will find that ability growing.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Jan. 9, 1932.

No man is discounted who is making good use of his talents.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 8, 1935.

Nothing is more expensive than unused capacity.

—Paul M. Stevens, The Beam, Fort Worth, Texas, August 1965.

Ability is the measure of answerability.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Jan. 6, 1907.

Those with talent latent are seldom ever blatant.

—Bill Copeland, Sarasota Journal, Sarasota, Fla., June 20, 1967.

Talents are not possessions but charges.

—William T. Ellis , Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho, May 7, 1916.

Too many people make cemeteries of their lives by burying their talents.

—Clifton N. Memmott, Uintah Basin Standard, Roosevelt, Utah, March 23, 1961.

Ability without agility doesn't win.

—B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., April 16, 1921.

Power comes from ability intelligently and persistently applied.

—B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., Nov. 12, 1921.

What is egotism? Just confidence without talent.

—Dan Valentine, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 17, 1956.

Necessity is the discoverer of hidden capacity, no less than the "mother of invention."

—Waldo Pondray Warren, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 13, 1907.

To keep from being a has been in any line one must keep on trying to go forward; to keep any faculty from going extinct one must keep on exercising that faculty. In order to keep from taking for granted the possession of a gift or faculty is continuing only to run into a disappointment, one must keep proving ability and capability unto himself. The proof of an ability or capability lies in expression. Without constant expression one is unaware whether he is going to succeed or fail in the attempted use of an ability or capability. It is expression that calls dormant abilities and capabilities to life. It is expression that keeps awakened abilities and capabilities awake. If a man denies himself expression he is filled with the uncertainty of whether he can really do that he has set out to do. Else he deceives himself by taking for granted that which is no longer true. The average man must wage a hard fight if he learns to express himself. Many men lose that battle. How tragic it is if a man win this battle, gain the power to express himself, only to lose it by a failure or refusal to express himself. Through lack of expression come unused ability and capabilities; through unused abilities and capabilities come lost abilities and capabilities.

---Henry Arnold “H.A.” Stallings, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Feb. 5, 1940.

One declares that it is easy enough to say: “I will rise. I will get ahead. I will be somebody. I will make use of my talents.” The world is crammed full of men who said that. Men who said that very thing—and never got ahead, never were anybody, and never got to where they could use even their natural ability. How many do you know who are making miserable failures in life? And the last one of these fellows apologize by saying: “The world is against me.” Don’t you believe any such stuff. Those men are the world’s shirkers.

---J. Marvin Nichols, Gainesville Daily Sun, Gainesville, Fla., Sept. 8, 1907.

Every man, every woman, every child has some talent, some opportunity of getting good and doing good. Each day offers some occasion for using this talent. As we use it, it gradually increases, improves and becomes native to the character. As we neglect it, it dwindles, withers and disappears. This is the stern but benign law by which we live. This makes character real and enduring; this makes progress possible; this turns men into angels and virtue into goodness.

---Frank Hilton Greer, Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, Okla., Aug. 19, 1910.

Genius means the possession of a great gift, and it is probable that genius will somehow find its way. But talent, which is also a gift, may exist as a mere germ or in a latent state and may manifest itself under favorable conditions.

In the average man of intelligence and with an inheritance coming down through ancestors of varied occupations undoubtedly lie the possibilities of success in several directions. None may be strong enough to force a choice in the lifework and circumstances are left to guide.

A young man may enter a profession and find himself well enough placed; he would perhaps have made an equal success in commercial life and felt himself satisfied.

Or he may become a business man, not realizing that he would make an actor or an orator, and having no regrets over missing such a career.

Had he chosen either of the latter callings, he would have developed a gift that, as it is, remains in the germ.

A poet is born, not made, but he must work for the laurels if he would win them.

Genius is not, as someone has said, an infinite capacity for hard work; it means more than that, but without hard work it does not come to its own.

It is fortunate for the multitude that their gifts are of lesser degree and that if they cannot follow one leading they are equally content with another; for circumstances govern our comings and goings to such an extent in this world that a man’s career in a vast majority of cases is not a matter of choice, but of expediency and opportunity.

If the average man with a life so governed felt himself a thwarted genius, the world would be far more unhappy than it is, but luckily he has no such feelings.

---Frank Hilton Greer, Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, Okla., Aug. 30, 1908.

Someone has said: "He is not only idle who does nothing, but he is idle who might be better employed."

Young people sometimes ask me what books are bad ones for them to read, and I am reminded of the above quotation, for to my mind any book is a bad one to read which takes the place and the time from the reading of a better one.

We all know how completely changed we sometimes are after reading a book which has taken vigorous hold upon us.

Multitudes of people have become demoralized by reading bad books, while thousands of others have found themselves through the reading of some book which has given them the first glimpse of their possibilities.

Try to read books that make you think more of yourself and believe more in yourself and in others. Shun books that shake your confidence in your fellow man. Read constructive books; books that are builders; avoid those that tear down.

No matter what you are doing, whether you are reading books or selling merchandise, you are badly employed when you could be better employed. You are badly employed when you are doing the lower if the higher is possible.

How many young men of ability, of fine education and robust health are literally throwing away their lives in some degrading business which elevates nobody, but, on the contrary, demoralizes and contaminates everyone who comes in contact with it! Can any amount of money or any physical pleasure compensate for a career on which society frowns and which one's better self condemns?

What can I do best? In what capacity can I best serve my fellow man and develop to the utmost my own highest powers? These are the searching questions that confront each young man and woman on the threshold of life. The answer not only involves the welfare or misery of the individual, but directly affects the progress of the world, for civilization can only reach highwater mark when each man and woman has chosen his or her proper work.

In selecting a life calling the principle to go upon is this: "A feeling of certainty that you can do more good there than in any other work in the world."

Whatever you do in life, be greater than your calling. Most people look upon an occupation or calling as a mere expedient for earning a living. What a mean, narrow view to take of what was intended for the great school of life, the great man developer, the character builder, that which should broaden, deepen, heighten and round out into symmetry, harmony and beauty all the God‑given faculties within us!

‑‑‑Orison Swett Marden, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., April 23, 1919.

Complaint is made in some places that a pushing and aggressive type of people shove themselves ahead and manage somehow to get the leading positions in civic life. Yet people of that type may be of more use in a city than the shrinking folks who lack the courage to take hold and do their share of public work. If you ask some people to take an office in an organization they immediately reply: “Oh, I couldn’t do that, I haven’t the ability and talent for that.” Many people who are perfectly capable of taking positions of leadership will take that attitude. This is one reason why a few people often have to do all the work of a good organization. The best judges of whether a person is able to perform a certain task are the people who associate with that person. If someone is invited by the leaders of an organization to take a certain official responsibility, it is a pretty good sign that that person is capable of the job and is held back only by an excess of timidity. The people who refuse these chances to exercise leadership limit their future and contract their sphere of usefulness. They come to be regarded as people who lack sufficient force and self-assertion to assume responsibility. They may be very admirable and charming persons, but they are frequently failing to exercise the talents that they possess. The people who fail to exercise their powers suffer a contraction of those powers. Talents grow as they are used, but if not used they decline.

---Walter B. Norton, Providence County Times, Olneyville, R.I., Nov. 27, 1922.

Every man has certain capabilities. It’s that either he or the world fails to recognize them that makes all the trouble.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 4, 1954.

When you get right down to it there is a lot of difference between a man’s possibilities and his capabilities.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 17, 1963.

One of the world’s saddest sights is that of a man who has lots of brains and ability but no capital to put them to work.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., Jan. 10, 1969.

Everybody is said to have hidden talents. But some manage to hid theirs for a lifetime.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., Oct. 7, 1980.

Ability creates responsibility.

‑‑‑Clarksville Leaf‑Chronicle, Clarksville, Tenn., Feb. 15, 1927.

One trouble with most of us is that we have too much talent and not enough knack.

---Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 3, 1934.

The difference between genius and talent is the difference between expectation and realization.

‑‑‑Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 1, 1914.

Talent is of no use to the man who hasn't the courage to make use of it.

‑‑‑Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, Mont., June 17, 1935.

Genius produces inventions, while talent applies them.

‑‑‑Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, Mont., Aug. 28, 1939.

The man who overrates his ability generally learns too late that he had none to overrate.

‑‑‑Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nev., Sept. 13, 1920.

Courage and ability go hand in hand. When one slumps the other goes with it.

‑‑‑Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville, Idaho, April 19, 1934.

Success in business is seldom owing to uncommon talents, but to the greatest degree of commonplace capacity.

---Prescott Evening Courier, Prescott, Ariz., Jan. 12, 1929.

Genius is the gold in the mine; talent is the miner who works and brings it out.

‑‑‑The Religious Telescope, Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 22, 1855.

Genius makes its observations in short hand; talent writes them out at length.

‑‑‑Rocky Mountain Gold Reporter, Mountain City, Colo., Aug. 6, 1859.

Ability never amounts to much until it acquires two more letters‑‑stability.

‑‑‑Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 3, 1903.

Ability is man's capital; success is the interest that capital earns.

‑‑‑Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 27, 1906.

We get somewhere when we begin to whip our ability up to our egotistical conceptions of our ability.

‑‑‑Utah Farmer, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 25, 1938.

Ability is measured by deeds rather than by intentions.

The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Nov. 5, 1919.

Talent is one thing a fellow can't hide. If he's got it--it shows. If he doesn't have it, it shows.

Chinook Opinion, Chinook, Mont., Sept. 23, 1954.

Wisdom is knowing what to do; skill is knowing how to do it; and service is doing it.

Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, Tenn., Sept. 20, 1922.

Talent is the ability to achieve. Genius is the manifestation of talent.

Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, Nov. 30, 1947.


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