Within each human being rests the talent of a genius. A capacity to do more, to do better, to do differently, than maybe anyone else in the world. In at least one special and specific way, I believe, we each have a latent talent hidden away deep inside. It is an incredible thought to contemplate. Even more powerful if you believe it to be true.

The fact is, however, merely possessing such a talent is not nearly enough. First, you must be fortunate enough, and open enough in your thinking, to actually discover and exhume that ability lying dormant within. Whether it is drawn forth by a parent, coach or mentor… Or stumbled upon in a moment of quiet introspection, the first hurdle to clear is identifying what it is you inherently have that has the potential to make you most especially great.

Next, the circumstances of your life must allow you to develop and hone this genius once it has been exposed, and then allow you to be in a position to properly apply and utilize your gift. You’ve heard it a million times, the story of the dude doing life in a federal prison, with more game than Mike. What a tragedy to have something so awesome inside and to have it squandered by extenuating circumstances, either within or beyond your control. To be born with your faculties and four limbs, and not in a cave in Afghanistan or a concentration camp in North Korea–that sort of good fortune cannot be understated. To contemplate the geniuses that couldn’t overcome the “wheres” and “whens” of their lives is to never comfortably take for granted all that is working in your favor, just in being able to read this right now.

Finally, all the genius a person could ever wish to possess means very little, if it is not met with equal parts passion. For that which you are passionate, you will find joy and meaning in what others might otherwise see as menial toil. I will reiterate it all day, every day, but I believe you can become a master at anything with enough practice and enthusiasm. So imagine what could be possible if all that hard work was channeled in the direction of that which you’re naturally inclined. Literally limitless.

Never forget, however, that just because you’re a genius at something, doesn’t necessarily mean you give a fuck. It doesn’t infer love. It doesn’t presuppose care. Many far less talented than you and I have willed themselves to the highest heights with mastery formed via infectious enthusiasm and diligent practice. However, many exponentially more blessed by the divine than us, have had such contempt for their own inborn gifts that they lit them on fire and threw them in the sewer of life without a second thought. Like Atlas shrugging off the weight of the planet, coolly dismissing that which we all would claim to cherish. For some, that burden is simply too heavy to carry.

If you’re so lucky as to get a grip on what it is that could truly make you great, protect it. Nurture it. Develop it. Honor it, and by extension, the unseen cosmic forces that first placed that light in the core of your being. What you realize quickly, is that your talent brings with it awesome responsibility. Your gift, if not properly cultivated, could easily become a curse of wasted potential. And there truly is nothing sadder—not only in what it denies the waster, but what is then denied us all. In a world with many dark corners and darker hearts, in your hands is a candle. One capable of illuminating the way, of enlightening dimmed minds, of lighting a bonfire in the badlands. But it will take a courageous soul to search so deep inside–the vastest of unchartered territory, determined to unearth the genius within.