Talent: Discovered or Developed?

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Talent hunters are everywhere. I just saw an article the other day about people going to other groups and companies and trying steal people from their company. Why? Because we want the best in our organizations. No one wants to have their child taught by the worst teacher in school. No one wants to go to a restaurant where they intentionally hire the worst chefs. And no one wants to be a part of something where sub-par talent is the highest expectation we can find.

In a similar fashion, talent developers are everywhere. Companies spend billions on trainings, retreats, reviews, and more. Why? Because we know that we haven’t reached our full potential yet.

As Aroma transitions into a totally new season of growth an expectation, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. I’ve also been getting a lot of feedback through onsite and offsite peers, consultants, mentors, fathers and leaders.

We left one 5 hour session asking ourselves this question: Are we discovered or developed?

As a company owner, church pastor, and missions site coordinator, I interact with a lot of people. We’ve constantly prided ourselves on giving people opportunity to grow. And yet some of the most explosive things that have happened come when someone from the outside comes in and offers just a little advice, or makes just the slightest change to a product, SOP or marketing tactic.

So, take a look at your life. Have you been discovered or developed? Do you want to be discovered or developed? Do you want to discover others or develop them? I’d like to take a brief survey of the benefits of both:


  • Discovering talent is costly. You have a lot more interviews. You need to spend time finding the right person. You need a backup plan for when that person leaves you for some place better.
  • Discovering talent is limiting. When you put all of your emphasis on discovering just the right person, you limit yourself to what they bring to the table. This includes their talents, but it also includes their culture, the sum of their beliefs, values and reactions in certain situations. Unfortunately, top talent often know they’re just that.
  • Discovering talent  is explosive. If you find the right person, the right culture match, the right time, etc. you have set yourself up for an explosive time of growth. The right talent discovered and injected can be just like a downed espresso shot. It burns immediately and gets you going quickly.


  • Developing talent is costly. They often underperform and you have to spend countless hours training, explaining, reviewing, and on and on and on. Taking into account the time value of money, you’ll probably lose more investing into that person than you’ll get out of them after they’re 100% ready. Not to mention the outright detrimental things they’ll do to you and your company in the mean time.
  • Developing talent is limiting. Until that person is everything you think they can be, they’re not. Let me repeat that. Until a person is everything you think they can be, they’re not. No matter how much you believe in someone, no matter how many resources you throw at someone, there’s still a journey.  You’re going to bottleneck your organization for a time.
  • Developing talent is explosive. Have you ever been supported? Felt believed in? I remember when my 9th grade band teacher, Mrs. Gallagher yelled at me in front of the whole class. She told me to grow up. After I sat in the corner crying for 20 minutes (literally), she took me into her office and explained how much she cared for me. She told me that there are plenty of students she saw every year who wouldn’t amount to much of anything. But she saw something more in me and wanted me to see it, too. Having someone take the time to invest in you. And being someone who invests you, can make all the difference. At all times in my life, I’ve had people investing in me, and it’s been great!

No matter which side you fall on, you’re still going to have to choose at times. I default to developing. Why? Because I’ve been developed. But, I also see the benefit of discovery. Why? Because I’ve been discovered.

The good news is that both of these are options. You don’t have to do just one. In fact, God has done both in us. In Ephesians 1:4, Paul says we were “chosen before the foundation of the world.” Sounds like a great discovery to me. Esther was chosen for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). There are countless stories, like David and Moses, of people who were discovered and elevated into a position of great opportunity. They nailed it.

Conversely, there are the people who are developed. Paul was definitely the worst, worst choice for a church plant. He was the most anti-Christian person available at the time (Acts 8:1), but then Barnabas (Acts 4:36) and Ananias (Acts 9:10-12) were used to develop him into the author of 13 books of the New Testament.

Which is it: discovered or developed? I say both! God’s much bigger than limited you to one. Get out there and discover someone. Then develop them. Hold them accountable; that is, make them “account for their God-given ability” (Kris Valloton).

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