"... siiiiiix ... seeee - ven ... eeeeeight ... niiiiiine ... teeeeen ... !"That was me several months ago trying my best to do push-ups, and men was I trying real hard! I could barely do 10 push-ups! You wouldn't believe that I used to do 80-90 push-ups back in my school days and I even placed 3rd at a Mr Macho contest during my NYSC days! I also used to exercise for long periods without getting exhausted, however, time seemed to have taken it's toll on me such that the rigor and length of my exercising had reduced gradually and gradually until it ground to a halt. Now, I had made a decision to resume active exercising and working out and I realized I was really so out of tune, I could barely do 10 push-ups. In addition, I found myself getting tired easily. I was panting really hard after a few minutes of exercising. I couldn't stretch as far as I used too, couldn't sustain the positions I used to sustain, couldn't lift what I used to lift ... in short I was far from being as fit as I was about 5 years ago.
Now why am I sharing this story? Sometime ago, I noticed the striking similarity between this "Exercise Process" to other areas of my life. An example was when I started active blogging, it would take a couple of days to complete an article from inception to completion. As I became more and more consistent and had more practice, that time reduced gradually and right now, I can usually complete an article in 2 hours or less. I look forward to when I'll be doing it in 10-15 minutes. I've tagged this principle "The principle of working out" and I define it as "If you don't work it when you don't need it, you won't find it when you need it". This same principle works for many other things apart from exercising - writing, speaking, acting, dancing, reading, driving, you name it! Once you take a break from your regular routine, the muscles relax and are no longer used to stress. But when they are in a constant state of exercise, they stay strong and ready to be called upon whenever they are needed.
Somehow or the other, there are some muscles in our lives which have become permanently relaxed. We never work them out, we never use them, we just let them be. This is what happens when we don't use our talents and gifts to their full potential. I believe everyone is born with several talents and there's no such person as an untalented person. Show me an untalented person and I'll show you someone whose muscles have been relaxed for too long. Your talents remain buried and invisible until you use them. If the great painter Michael Angelo did not practice his painting, he wouldn't be known today, but that wouldn't change the fact that he had painting talents. The same goes for singers, writers, etc.
Now let's get practical. I want you to identify some talents you have - both active and inactive. If possible, make a list with a column in front of each talent. Give each talent a percentage mark which will indicate how much you're working it out and using it. If you can't give it a 75%, then it's time to start working it out. Don't procrastinate. If you have the gift of writing, start writing something now. If your gift is talking, look for speaking opportunities now. Get a topic and try speaking about it with 1 or 2 colleagues. Volunteer to give a talk at a small gathering, a youth meeting, an NYSC CD group, a birthday party, etc. Don't worry if things are not turning out well at the beginning. Remember how 10 push-ups can easily turn into 90 and don't get discouraged. Practice brings perfection, but the worst mistake we often make is failure to start. Start working on those skills today, and you'll see opportunities coming your way. Work those Muscles, work those skills!