Know Thy Self

Pop quiz!  Ready?  The question is, “What is the best use of a hammer?”

Let me guess, you probably said something like, “driving nails” or “pounding stuff”.  In fact, I’ll bet the answer sprang up immediately in your mind as soon as you finished reading the question.  Why is that?  It’s because everyone knows what a hammer is designed for and what jobs it does best.

Here’s another question:  Do you know with absolute certainty what you’ve been created to do better than anyone else? I’m not simply asking what you’re good at, but rather, do you know how you are uniquely skilled and gifted so that you can focus your skills on activities that yield your greatest contribution?

I think that each person has a set of talents and skills that are unique to them.  These skills and talents may not seem like a big deal to the person who possesses them.  That’s because they can execute them with ease, almost effortlessly, and do them better than a large majority of people on the planet.  I also think that people are at their best when they are using their unique talents and skills in pursuit of something they feel passionate about.

Are you currently aware of your unique talents and skills?  Do you know what types of activities excite you to want to use your unique skills?  Are you frequently using your unique skills in these activities?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, congratulations!  If not, here are a couple of things you can do to gain an understanding of your unique skills:

  • Spend some time taking an inventory of all the skills you possess.  If you need some help, I’d recommend reading Unique Ability by authors Catherine Nomura, Julia Waller, and Shannon Waller.  I’m just finishing it and I’ve found this book to be an excellent resource in this area.
  • Determine what moves you, what stirs passion inside you.  Again, Unique Ability is a great resource.
  • List activities you can you engage in that would be a great marriage of your talents and passion.
  • Cause something to happen by engaging your talents and passion in the aforementioned activity.

Much like a hammer, we’re at our best when we’re doing what we were created to do.  As a result, each of us should know exactly what our unique skills are.  Just as assuredly as we know what a hammer is best used for.

Begin taking steps today to identify and utilize your unique skills and talents in an activity that stirs you.  Not only will you feel great doing so, you’ll also be serving others in a way that only you are uniquely gifted to do.

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Sample a New Surrounding

I just returned from my first trip to New York City.  WOW!  What a great city!   There was so much to see and experience.  Although we were there for a whole week, we still didn’t have time to do everything on our list.  Regardless, I had a fantastic time and made some great memories.

What I enjoyed most about this trip was showing up as a New York newbie and being able to quickly adapt to life in the city and move about with confidence.  It was fun to experience that transformation.  Prior to this trip, I had no experience in a city of this size, other than what I had heard from the experience of others.  However, within a couple of days of putting myself in the middle of the action, I gained valuable experience on navigating the city and became very comfortable in my new surroundings.  It’s interesting how New York City was a big mystery to me when I first arrived, but after a day it felt very familiar, exciting and exhilarating.

Going to a new place like this can be intimidating.  Fear of the unknown can easily cripple the enthusiasm to travel to new places, or even to try new things and live a life that is full and made interesting by continually stretching and growing.  Yielding to our fear and comfort zone is easy, but it comes with a high price of limited life experience and regret.

This trip also reminded me that we can also gain experience and confidence in other areas of our lives by putting ourselves out there and causing something to happen that is new to us, which has great potential to boost our confidence, as well as our knowledge of the world around us.  It’s simply a matter of getting comfortable stretching your comfort zone.

What areas would you like (or need) to stretch your comfort zone?  Is there a skill you’d like to learn or a class you’d like to take?  Get started today!  Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit?  Begin making plans to go.  And once you’ve made your plans, put them into action!  Don’t let the fear of the unknown, or the boundaries of your comfort zone keep you from the exciting new experiences and confidence that awaits.

It’s your life, and it’s calling.  How will you answer?

It Feels Good When You’re Done

Some activities that are good for us are a real drag to actually do.  You know what I’m talking about.  Like working in the yard, exercising, making sales calls for your business, cleaning out the garage, studying for a test, and several other just-as-exciting activities.  Getting started on tasks like these can be extremely difficult.  Since we don’t really want to do them, it becomes very easy to procrastinate.  We may be able to get started, only to punch out well before these tasks are completed.  Regardless, we are eager to put off doing these tasks as long as possible, or avoid doing them altogether.

What’s interesting though, is that all of these tasks have something in common.  They make us feel good… when we’re done with them.

Take exercising, for example.  We all know it’s good for us and we should be doing it.  However, I’m sure we can all think of several other things we’d rather be doing than exercising, and come up with several reasons why we should skip exercising today and do it “another day”.

But here’s the thing, when we do decide to exercise and actually see it through to completion, don’t we usually feel better having completed our workout?  Don’t we feel good knowing that we’ve put in the effort to cause something to happen that is good for us?  We may even feel proud of our accomplishment and think, “That wasn’t so bad”.

Just this morning I needed to make some sales calls, but I didn’t feel like doing it.  It’s certainly not my favorite thing to do, so I had to work really hard to keep from talking myself out of making them.  I did, in fact make my calls, and when I was done, I felt GREAT!  It was nice to have that big task checked off my list so early.  In fact, those calls didn’t take nearly as long as I thought they would and there is possibility that they will bear fruit in the future.  I’m glad I made those calls.

So what activity, that you know is beneficial, are you struggling to complete because it isn’t fun to do?  Once you have this activity in mind, think about how good it would feel to actually complete it.  Then, use the anticipation of that feeling to get started on that activity.  Remind yourself how good it will feel when you’re finished.  My guess is that, once you’re finished, you’ll feel better than you thought you would.

You’re Unique

Whenever I’m in a large crowd of people I’m amazed at the fact that each person has a unique and different appearance (identical twins notwithstanding).  With all the combinations of facial features, body types, skin and hair color, height and weight possibilities, no 2 people are exactly alike in appearance.  Each person is unique.  I love that!

In addition to physical features every person is also unique in their mix of gifts and talents.  Unlike hair color or height and weight, a person’s gifts and talents are not always visibly recognizable to others, or to the person who possesses them.  It’s easy for us to see a talent being used in other people, but we can often miss, or even dismiss the unique talents and gifts that we possess. When we see others’ talent being used it’s easy to think, “I wish I were talented like so-and-so“ or “I’m just not that talented”.   Of our own talents, we may even think, “It’s not a big deal” or “There’s nothing special about that”.  I disagree.  Your talents are a big deal, and they are something special.

I think we are at our best when we are using our gifts and talents on a regular basis.  We perform our greatest work, give our greatest effort, and make our greatest contribution when we engage them.  That’s why it’s so important for us to be aware of our gifts and talents and seek to use them often in the course of our daily lives.

Spend some time over the next couple of days reflecting on your unique gifts and talents.  As you do, think of opportunities to use them to cause something to happen in your personal or professional life. Also, realize that no one else on the planet has the exact same make up of gifts and talents that you do.

You truly are unique!