Don't "sin" against your own talent

I was cleaning out an old file today to clear the decks for a new creative project when I came across an article I’d saved from the September 19, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. In the article, written by Gay Talese, he interviews Tony Bennett. Tony is telling a story about Amy Winehouse and how he wished he could have told her a few things before she died.

Talese quotes Bennett: “Woody Allen’s manager at the time” – Jack Rollins – “said he knew Lenny Bruce, and he said one sentence that changed my life. He said, ‘He sinned against his talent.’ I wanted to tell her that.”

“He sinned against his talent.” That one sentence stopped me in my tracks two years ago when I read it and stopped me in my tracks again today when I re-read it. It’s a great question to ask yourself: Are you sinning against your own talent?

Discernment will help you every time. Sometimes writing a grant application can be “sinning against your talent” because you really need to be in the studio making art, not writing a proposal. Sometimes not writing the proposal is “sinning against your own talent” because it’s time to put the work out in the world. Only you and your trusted advisers can help you discern for sure.

Wherever you find yourself this August weekend, ask yourself: Is anything I’m doing (or not doing) sinning against my talent?