Skills, Talents, and Purpose – What’s the Difference?

colorful cutouts of the word purpose

There are many tools and resources for finding your purpose and learning to live in your purpose, and some tools focus specifically on monetizing your life’s purpose. I believe there is a prerequisite to all of this. It is not a qualifying factor but most definitely an essential one. It should be considered a clarifying point.

Photo by Tony Schnagl on

Let me clarify the difference between three things that, at times, can all be mistaken for purpose. The three things we will look at are skills, gifts or talents, and purpose.

Skills are the basis of everyday life. Everyone has a certain number of things that they are skilled in. Skills are often things that everyone must have some level of proficiency to maintain the necessities of everyday life. Different people can have varying levels of skill at the same tasks. Some examples of skills are driving, walking, speaking, cooking, etc. This is easily understandable, and I don’t think anyone would mistake their skill of walking as being their or someone else’s purpose. It is still necessary to acknowledge this level of proficiency. The primary reason is that the line begins to grey at the next level when a person is very proficient at a specific skill to the point where it would be considered a gift or talent.

Many people have a skill that we are known for doing well. It may be something as simple as being a good cook. However, every good cook’s purpose in life is not to be a chef. It is at the point that a person’s proficiency at a specific skill could be considered a gift or talent that most people get lost on the road to finding their purpose. Not everything that a person does well is what they want to do for a living. Sometimes they only enjoy sharing their talent(s) with a small group like immediate family. So the question becomes how a person can tell the difference between gifts, talents, and purpose

There are two simple questions with possibly not-so-simple answers that can help a person find their purpose and ensure they don’t get stuck doing something they do well but were not intended to do for a living.

The first question is: What would I do for free as often as possible for the rest of my life? This takes the person who loves to cook for their family to the next level, where they want to cook at every opportunity and have a vision of becoming a successful chef and owning their own restaurant.

The second question is: What would I regret if I didn’t do or feel unfilled about not sharing with the world at large? This takes the family cook and puts them in a situation where they are ready, willing, and able to cook for family, friends, social groups, charities, etc. the other side to this coin is the point where they are not only fulfilled by cooking but also by the reaction from people and what their cooking does to enrich others’ lives.

Take some time to survey the things you do well and enjoy. Answer the two questions above, and you will be on a solid path to living your purpose.–Abiodun Aderonmu

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Ubuntu Village will be traveling to Africa soon and we would like to document this trip and any other trips taken in a blog format.