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.
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!
Remember picking teams back in grade school gym class or on the playground? All the best players got picked first and the least talented got picked last. I remember the feeling, hoping to be picked and then feeling relieved when I was finally selected.
It’s not much different as adults. We wait for a potential employer, a significant other, a business partner, or some other person or group, to give us their “seal of approval, by picking us to join their team. Perhaps we feel being picked by them validates us, our talents, our ideas and goals, and maybe even our individual value.
Instead of waiting for others to pick you, why not pick yourself? Why not realize the value, talent and ability that you possess and pick yourself to pursue the goals you’ve put forth for yourself, instead of waiting for someone else to do it? Validate the skills, worth, and ability you have and take the first step toward your goals by picking yourself to be the one that gets things started.
Don’t wait for others to pick you? Cause something to happen. Decide today to pick yourself.
Like a lot of people, I love learning new things. There’s something cool about starting out not knowing anything about a topic, spending time learning about it, and then having an understanding that I didn’t have when I started. What’s even better is applying what I learned and seeing positive results. That’s the true value of learning.
But what about failure as it relates to learning? Have you ever thought of failure as a necessary step in the learning process? No one likes to fail. It makes us feel clueless, ignorant, worthless, or a whole host of other self-defeating feelings. I would guess that many people don’t even risk applying what they learn, or even attempt to learn new things, in order to avoid failure and all those negative feelings that come with it. We potentially miss out on so much because we’re afraid to fail.
What if we change our mindset to view failure not as a shameful and defeating event, but instead see it as a form of learning? Multiple times in the past several weeks I’ve heard the phrase “There is no failure, only learning”. That’s powerful! When we first set out to learn something new, we already know and accept the fact that we are clueless, ignorant, and worthless in that subject. And we’re fine with that. Why? Because we know that is the starting point of all learning. We show up with nothing. We also know that, as a result of learning about our chosen topic, we won’t be that way for very long. As we begin to apply what we learn, we soon find that we are becoming competent, knowledgeable, and valuable in our chosen topic.
Isn’t failure just part of the learning process, helping us discover what works and what doesn’t? If so, shouldn’t failure be seen as a crucial part of the learning process? I think so.
Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from attempting to cause something to happen. See it as a natural part of your learning process. And always remember, there is no failure, only learning.
Everyone wants a “sure thing”. You know what I mean; it’s that investment or strategy that is guaranteed to provide you with a significant return on your investment of time and money. We’re not interested in wasting our resources on something that won’t yield a decent return. So where should we invest our resources that has the greatest potential for the highest return? Is there even a “sure thing” out there? If so, what and where is it? I’m glad you asked.
I’ll give you a hint. In fact, I’ll do even better. I’ll show you exactly where to find this guaranteed, sure thing investment. Ready? Here it is: Go find the closest mirror and stand facing it. You see that person looking back at you? That’s your sure thing!
We tend to think of investments as deposits of dollars we make in a bank account, a 401k, or some other retirement or savings plan. While it’s true that those are indeed important investments, have you ever thought of yourself as a worthy investment? Have you ever thought of yourself as someplace worthy of investing your time and money, with the expectation of a significant return? You should, because you ARE.
So what does investing in yourself look like? Does that mean putting an extra sum of money in your wallet or pocket every month? Not quite. Investing in ourselves involves committing our time and resources into materials, activities, experiences, and relationships that cause positive growth in our lives. This is growth that enables us to be better prepared to pursue our goals and dreams and to take advantages of opportunities that align with our goals and dreams when they arise.
Some examples of investing in yourself may include:
- Purchasing (and reading!) books in an area of interest, vocation, or career.
- Signing up for a relevant seminar or conference in an area where you are attempting to grow.
- Enrolling in a class or pursuing a degree.
- Purchasing training or coaching from a professional that will increase your skills and knowledge in order to help you go to the next level.
- Finding and fostering a mentoring relationship with someone who has done, or is currently doing, what you’d like to do now or in the future.
- Traveling to a new destination to learn about a different culture.
- Creating a growth experience that stretches your understanding, knowledge, and/or comfort zone.
This is certainly not an extensive list, and only offers a small glimpse of the possibilities for investing in one’s self. Anything you can do that requires effort, resources, or both, which increases your knowledge and understanding in your area of interest is a worthy investment in yourself.
Take advantage of the opportunity you have to invest in a sure thing. See yourself as the worthy investment that you are and cause something to happen by being committed to regularly investing in yourself. You will be delighted with the return on your investment!