Most of us talk about Talents in the same way as we talk about money: “How many Talents have you got?”, “Can I pay you Talents for it?”, “I lost a lot of Talents on that sale”, “I’ve got so many Talents I don’t know what to do with them”, and so on. In other words we think about Talents as if they exist, as if there is a quantity of them like there is a quantity of money. In our minds Talents are an exchange medium that we exchange for goods and services.
But what if you were told that there are no Talents, that quantity is not a property of Talents? Something without the property of quantity can’t exist surely?
That is the truth about Talents: there aren’t any! Talents are a unit of measure, like litres and kilometres. It doesn’t make sense to say you own so many litres or kilometres, so it doesn’t make sense to say you ‘have’ so many Talents in the ‘bank’.
Talents measure the amount of value provided by providers (sellers) to recipients (buyers), not a number of ‘coins’ handed by buyers to sellers. The value is in the goods and services, not in the Talents. Talents have no value in themselves; they simply measure the transfer of value from one entity to another.
Talents tell us more than just how much value was transferred. If your balance is below zero the figure represents what you ‘owe’ or are obliged to give back to the other members of the community. In other words you have received more than you have given and you need to eliminate that ‘imbalance’ by providing something for others.
A balance amount above zero represents your claim on the community. It means you have given more than you have received and you are obliged to reduce that claim by ‘purchasing’ something from someone else.
Your aim, in the long term, should be maintain your mean balance as close to zero as possible. That means you have received as much as you have given.
A useful exercise is to try to talk about Talents using language that does not treat them as objects. Try it out. You will find that if you do not think of Talents as ‘things’ your entire language around them will change and this will give you a fresh perspective on what the Talent Exchange is trying to achieve.