Friday, February 17, 2012

Talent Search: Never Heard of Him

I am ashamed to say that it took me years to realize that not every person with major talent in our society is well known.

Despite knowing about writers, artists, and inventors who had extraordinary abilities and yet lived lives of obscurity, my knee-jerk assumption was that merit would eventually be rewarded, if not with wealth then at least with some form of celebrity.

That assumption started to crumble while I was reading a crime novel by Elmore Leonard in the days before he gained his current celebrity status. The high quality of the book was apparent and I was stunned that so many inferior writers were better known. [Although Leonard had achieved a niche reputation as a writer of westerns, it wasn't until the publication of "Glitz" that he began to enter the celebrity mainstream.]

Some may say that Leonard's example goes against my argument because he was eventually recognized but I assert the opposite. What if he'd died earlier? What if "Glitz" had not taken off?

Since that revelation of the obvious, I've gone out of my way to learn about talented people who are on the fringes and who may, or may not, remain there. Many deserve that location but there are more than a few who are either very good or shockingly good.

That search for the unheralded talent pool should not only take place in our cultural lives, but also in our workplaces. In any sizable organization, there are people who have large amounts of unacknowledged and underutilized talent.

They are worth checking out.

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