Skills, Talents, Capabilities + Purpose = Fulfillment

Inspiration!  There is no better source than from those who seek the opportunity that the United States offers, then find and live it. Carlos Suarez’s story is both inspiring and a practical message to us all on finding and fulfilling our life’s purpose.C.015

When my friend Carlos immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 2000s, he arrived with only three things: the clothes on his back, a passion for expressing himself through art, and a very clear picture of the lifestyle he wanted to lead in his new home country. Carlos had suffered great hardship in Cuba and had even been jailed for not toeing the Communist party line. Still, he tried to make the best of a bad situation in Cuba. He studied hard and graduated from one of the most prestigious art academies in Latin America. His amazing surrealist oil paintings were collected by art lovers around the world. But even though he had achieved a certain level of success with painting, Carlos was consumed with curiosity about another form of artistic expression—computer-generated art. He decided he wanted to become a computer modeler and animator in America. He wanted to make video games and cartoons that made other people happy.Carlos Suarez copy

By all outward appearances, it was a fine idea. Carlos’ chosen career matched his passion to perfection, and would also give him the kind of lifestyle he had always dreamed of. But there was one little hitch… Carlos had never done any animation on a computer. In fact, he had never created any form of art on a computer, because everyday Cubans could not afford computers, and in some cases were forbidden from even having them. Not only did Carlos lack computer skills, but his English was rudimentary at best. How would he ever be able to communicate effectively with potential computer graphics clients?

Like Carlos, without the skills, talents and capabilities (STCs) to pursue your desired personal Quest, you can do little more than spin your wheels. But here is the good news: even if you do not have the entire STC package today, you can create one that will work for you tomorrow. Let’s examine the building blocks that Carlos’ discovered.

Skills are about your ability to do something well. They arise from your education, training and experience. I am not talking about the jobs or classes you take, but rather the practical know-how needed to do those jobs and the things you learned from classes or other experiences.

Talents (or gifts) are usually focused on natural ability. While typically reserved for the artistic or the athletic, they may apply to other pursuits as well, like math, science, and public speaking. Talents may need development to flourish, but the innate characteristics are there, ready and waiting to be nurtured.

Capabilities are another term for the ability to do something well. While similar to talents, the term is typically used for existing abilities to do things not on the artistic or athletic sides. He has the capability to develop into a great leader. She has the capability to analyze difficult problems and come to meaningful conclusions.

Let’s return for a moment to my friend, Carlos. When he arrived in America, he knew that he had great artistic talent. Thanks to his difficult life in Cuba, he had developed the proven capability to solve problems, overcome obstacles and work toward audacious goals. However, he also recognized that he lacked the skills to be a computer graphics artist and to communicate effectively with clients.Unknown copy

Instead of giving up on his Quest, Carlos decided to rely on his talents and capabilities for however long it took to build his skills. During the day he worked in the city’s sewer department to support himself. At night he took English classes and studied online tutorials and books on computer animation. He also continued to paint and sell his work. As his skills increased, he took the leap and joined an online job forum for graphic artists, where he started applying for simple gigs like designing animated logos. Within five years of arriving in America with zero skills and little English, Carlos had his first client. Three years later he became the job forum’s top ranked computer animator out of over 32,000 worldwide. And in 2014, his biggest dream came true: his first video game, Freediving Hunter, debuted on Apple’s App Store. Freediving Hunter has broken into the top ten iPhone sports games in 35 countries (including the United States) and Carlos is now partnered with Microsoft to develop a similar game for the Xbox One. As you can imagine, he’s a very happy guy today. You can learn more about him and his game at copy

Carlos’ success came in large part because he realistically assessed and developed the STCs necessary to pursue his Quest.

We can (we must!) do the same, because the world needs everyone’s skills, talents and capabilities.