If you don’t use it, do you really lose it?
Is it really true that if you don’t use it, you lose it?
Healthcare professionals seem to think so. This old expression is used to describe a variety of human functions, from building muscle to having sex to thinking creatively to aging gracefully.
And the science seems to suggests that to a degree, that might be true. Brains and bodies operate on the use it or lose it principle, insofar as human beings are always building and rebuilding themselves. Neural pathways used most often get stronger and more well established, and the ones that don’t, get paved over.
One study from a medicine journal concluded that men in their fifties, sixties and seventies who weren’t sexually active were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Another study proved that when dementia patients took part in mentally engaging activities like reading and playing games frequently, they improved the density of white matter in their brains.
Maybe if you don’t use it, you really do lose it.
However, while there is ample physiological validity to this principle, it’s also important not to let the idea have psychological negativity. Because there are certain things inside of us that we can never lose.
Like our core talents. Sure, they may not be deployed with the intensity, duration and frequency that we might prefer, but that doesn’t mean we’re bereft of those gifts.
If there’s something joyful, that’s always come naturally to us, that we’ve lost touch with, it doesn’t mean we have to start from scratch. Our talent is there, awaiting our employ. It is not a finite resource like natural gas, precious metal or paid vacation days, where if we don’t use it, we lose it.
Talent is depends on vision, permission and refection. Which means we have to view our talent as valuable, enduring and reusable.
And this requires deep faith. Not in a higher power necessarily, but in our own resources. We must trust we can always utilize our talents to build value, make a living, generate income and create fulfillment for ourselves, for the rest of our days.
It’s an abundance mindset, a vision in our genetic gifts, and it’s exactly what allows us to keep moving our story forward. A story of growth, prosperity and opportunity, rather than one of limits, scarcity and closing doors.
Additionally, permission and reflection are also critical to accessing and exploiting our talents. Because there are undoubtedly are hidden gifts that deserve a more prominent place in our lives.
Sometimes we simply need another pair of eyes to see that.
It reminds me of a close friend who’s always been a beacon of encouragement for me. After overcoming stage fright and performing one of my original songs at my wedding, he sent me the following text message.
Scott, where the hell did that come from? I had no idea you that in you. Why are you not playing music in public more often?
His encouragement gave me permission and reflection. Andy made me realize that not using that particular talent didn’t mean I had lost it. It was always there, awaiting my employ. It simply needed some third party encouragement to lure it out of hibernation.
Many years later, my musical gifts have now taken a prominent place of my creative life, which brings others joy, and brings me fulfillment.
If you want to make use of everything you are, you need a combination of vision, permission and reflection.
Unused talents are not lost, merely idle. They will rise up to meet you, but you have to take the first step.
Which tracks on your personal mixing console need to have their levels raised?
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