Snow-Blind to Our Own Talents

~by Shannon Modrell

Are you snow-blind to your own talents?

In the 80’s my husband Brent worked for a family who owned a popular restaurant chain in Houston TX.  J.R., the man who trained Brent for his managerial position, taught him to start each day by walking the perimeter of the restaurant to look for anything amiss that might need to be addressed: an overlooked soda can sitting on a ledge, a board coming loose, dead flowers in the landscaping, etc.

He stressed the importance of seeing with fresh eyes each day because of our human tendency to get snowblind to those things that are in the environment that we become accustomed to. Brent jokes that after a few weeks of training he used to rib J.R. because he often caught things that even J.R. had overlooked.

This is a great analogy for what we tend to do with our talents and creative gifts.

We are often completely snow-blind to the true magnitude of our special gifts because we are so close to them.  They are so much a part of us and feel so normal to us that they just flat seem insignificant!

All my life I thought everyone could sing acappella because it came very naturally to me.  I sang to myself constantly and automatically everywhere I went: the grocery store, work, home, the mall – everywhere.  It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that people started commenting on how amazed they were that I could do this, always declaring “That’s such a hard thing to do!”  I would think “What on earth are they talking about?  It’s the easiest thing in the world – everyone can do this!”  Finally, after hearing it from enough people I started realizing that, no, not everyone could easily sing acappella.

But as much of a revelation as this was, I still thought that surely all singers could sing acappella.  After all, I was a singer, so I thought that must be why it came so easily to me and not everyone else.  But in time I found out that no, not all singers – even great singers – can sing acappella.  I’d always taken it for granted because it’s so much a part of who I am.  It took an outside perspective for me to see it as anything but an every day run-of-the-mill activity.  (Though I do maintain that everyone can sing if properly taught (yes, even you!), not everyone has the same set of abilities when it comes to singing – but that’s another article!)

I know a young man from a very chaotic and dysfunctional family – we’ll call him Steve.  Steve has never done well in school, has ADHD and struggles with severe depression.  Besides being quite intelligent and creative he also has the ability to see – literally see – complicated math problems and their solutions in his mind’s eye as if they are written out on a screen.  It comes so easily to him he doesn’t understand how others don’t see math as he does.  Low self esteem plus the ease in which it comes to him keep him from seeing it for what it is: a very special ability that not everyone has.

Another thing about Steve; he gets so focused on traits and abilities in others that he does not have, (good grades, good social skills, organization), that he is snow-blind to his own gifts.

Most of us do this with our own talents. Has someone ever expressed how impressed they are at an ability they see in you or with something you did and your immediate thought was “What?  There’s nothing special about that!  All I did was….”  Has it maybe happened several times throughout your life in regards to the same ability or set of abilities?  Or do people ever say “You’d make a good_____!” or “You’d be great at_______!” and you immediately wonder how in the world their judgment could be so off-base?

Is it at all possible that they are actually on to something?  Something you cannot see?

We all have multiple talents and abilities.  And I know – I KNOW – that all of us have talents and abilities that still lie dormant.  And they are often connected to those things we do every day and take completely for granted.

 It doesn’t even have to be anything grand or flashy – I know people who’s very being makes others feel comfortable just as they are. Whenever they are around, others just feel a sense of emotional safety and feel like they are accepted for who and what they are and that they can just be themselves.   That is a gift!  And it just emanates from them naturally without their doing anything!
So what are some of the things that come easily to you, things that you often don’t give a second thought?  Maybe even things you’ve done since childhood.
The next time someone comments on an ability they see in you and your first thought is “Are you crazy?!?”, what if you stepped back from that thought and considered that they just might be seeing the seeds of greatness within you….
In love and support

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  Nationally known award winning vocalist, composer and speaker Shannon Modrell travels the US singing music to Encourage, Empower and Inspire. Her one-of-a-kind performances receive standing ovations on stages at international conferences and holistic events from coast to coast.

If you want to be Encouraged, Empowered and Inspired to live the creative fire within you, sign up for  a FRE*E subscription to her ezine Gifted U by emailing .  Visit Shannon’s website at:


The Secret to Having Unstoppable Impact ~by Shannon Modrell

You have something important to share with the world – A gift, a viewpoint, a piece of the puzzle of life that only you can share.  Or maybe it’s a song, a book, a speech, or knowledge of how to do something.  There is ALWAYS something…

But are you like most people? 

Too often, we assume there is nothing inside of us that anyone would gain value from.  This usually stems from a deeply buried (or sometimes not-so-deeply-buried) belief that “I am not enough, just as I am”.   We compare ourselves to some idealized standard that we don’t measure up to and think it is how we have to be if we are to make an impact in the world.   And too often our would-be contributions shrivel up inside of us, never seeing the light of day OR they become destructive little children until we listen to their cries for recognition!  (This is why I wrote the song I AM Enough)

I often recognize gifts and abilities in people that they themselves don’t see.  But when I point out the abilities I see in them, they frequently respond by insisting that I’m wrong and that they couldn’t possibly be as talented or special or important as I seem to believe they are.  Not only do they deny what I tell them I see in them, they get downright insistent that it’s not true!  It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely invested people can be in focusing on their own lack of ability.  I mean, people cling to the belief in their own smallness with bulldog tenacity!

Yet there are many famous speakers, writers, artists, teachers and musicians making an impact in the world who share that they experience the same self-doubt at least from time-to-time if not every day!  Despite the self-doubt they are still out there making a difference in the world, doing what is within them to do.

So I’m going to give you one of the secrets to ceasing playing small and stepping out in a bigger way in the world:  

Choose to give instead of seeking to be great

Maybe you aren’t trying to “be great”.  Maybe you habitually shrink back from your own abilities, too afraid to even be seen, let alone great.  Either way, I invite you to play with this concept.

Sometimes the blocks we experience come from having far too lofty expectations.  We set ourselves up by thinking our work, our art, or our ideas have to be SO GREAT that nothing we do could ever live up to the standard we’ve set – forgetting all the while that WE set the standard in the first place! 

My coach Sandra Zimmer taught me that sometimes the best thing we can do is forget the idea of having to be an expert and just allow ourselves to be “someone who knows some stuff and is willing to share it”.  It takes the pressure off of the outcome and puts the focus on simply giving to others what is within you to give.  It takes the focus away from “out there” (“what will others think of me?” “what will happen as a result of this?”) to being in the present moment (“what is in me that wants to be expressed right now?”)  This also applies to anything we want to create or express such as art, a play, music, etc.  

The irony is that once we let go of the expectation of how spectacular (read “perfect”, let’s face it!) our efforts must be, we are freed up to express the things that have soul – and that is what makes for true impact on the world!

Is there anything inside you that is asking to be seen or heard?   Try applying the “give it to the world” concept instead of worrying about whether or not it will be great and see where it takes you.  I’d love to hear about where this leads you, so please feel free to share!

Peace and Blessings,


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Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, and at Unity and United Spiritual Centers all over the USA. 
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