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What is your gift?

How to answer this with one powerful question

“The intersection of someone’s need and your strength is your place of greatest value” – Dan Rockwell

Have you ever felt like you are good at a lot of things yet bad at everything all at the same time? For myself – only every other minute.

It’s disorienting, depressing, confusing, frustrating, debilitating, and annoyingly humbling.

Questions

Faced with what to do next, I have frequently asked myself the classic questions of:

  • What you are good at?
  • What are your skills?
  • What are your talents and strengths?

The answers to these questions ends up being a long list of unrelated tasks, with no single one standing out over the others. Which, then leaves me feeling even more confused/stuck/frustrated/ and feeling completely useless. You think it would make you feel good but it doesn’t.

Problems

Well, I (like most human beings) am good at several things. Not titles, but things. The problem is that we think of what we’re good at by how it might fit into a title we can apply for or pursue. This makes it hard, at least for me, because I have yet to find an available title that perfectly entails all of the many little things that I am naturally good at doing.

Disclaimer: Just to clarify, when I say that I (and others) are good at many things, these could be any number of things like organizing a closet, using crayons, etc. So, try to refrain from being offended and arguing what exactly “good at” means.

And, the reality is that most likely all of the little things you’re good at will probably not be needed or used at all times. So, how do you choose?

Another problem is that just being good at something doesn’t always mean that it is meant to be your work/job. So, faced with the question of “what do you want to do?”, you are asked to juggle all of these abilities and things you are pretty decent at and decide which one will be either your life’s work and/or your “get-paid-work”. Now is the time that some will argue that your “life’s work” doesn’t have to be a job or paid – you can do both. Well, yes, I understand. Thank you Captain Obvious. Just stay with me here.

Reality

Most of us need to make money to buy food, cars, books, health insurance, braces, homes, candy…..you know, essentials.

Personally, I would prefer for my work to be built on top of something that I am already somewhat good at doing and could build on, or at the very least, something I feel inclined to try to improve on.

Therefore, when you spread all your good-ats on a table and look at them – how do you know which one to lean on for work, building on, chances for success, or a chance to make an impact?

Aha moment

I recently read a book called The Little Things, by Andy Andrews. On one page, he asked many questions. But, two of the questions made me stop.

He urged you to first ask yourself what you really wanted to learn and explore. Then he asked “how does what you learn change things for the rest of us?”

That simple phrasing made a huge impression on me.

When I reconsidered all of the things I thought I was good at doing and reframed them using the question of how it could change things for others – it changed how I looked at my list.

My list didn’t look the same to me anymore.

Gifts in action

Have you ever been watching someone do something they were truly good at? Have you noticed how it feels and looks when someone is in their true element? It’s palpable. We can all recognize it. It’s hard to explain but the ease of it is beautiful. It doesn’t feel forced. We want this so bad for ourselves. We want it so much that it’s hard not to confuse that feelingwith thinking like we want their exact thing for ourselves. They make it look magical.

But, in reality, it’s because that person is changing things for us through their gift. It’s not that we want to do that exact thing, we want what it makes us feel. It’s a recognition of what great looks and feels like. That’s what we want. It’s why we imitate and obsessively follow people. They make us feel it.

A new way of seeing

So, when you look at your list or reflect on yourself to consider the gifts or talents you have – what is it that you have or what you do that will have the most impact and change things for the rest of us?

Call it self-awareness, self-reflection, admitting who you are, being of service, whatever.

It’s a shift in perspective.

Better questions

With this new perspective, a better way to look at yours and my list of “talents” is to look while asking better questions.

  • Because of who I really am, and knowing what my natural abilities are – what part of me stands to make the most genuine impact on others?
  • How will what I choose to learn, explore, and do change things for others?

And, like the initial quote at the beginning of this writing says, your place of greatest value lies between your strength and someone’s need. These two together point the way.

A personal note

I figured out a long time ago that writing through things was my best way to sort things out. I also realized that the way things are worded can dramatically change the way I think about something and therefore alter my perspective. In knowing these two things, I have been nearly obsessed with the hunt for better ways to say things, hear things, and think about things.

Moving forward, going through my journey of changing careers or at least – adding new components, writing will be my way of trying to help have an impact and change things for others. Many years of experience in healthcare, newer experiences with teaching, my love for personal development, and my current journey through instructional design has made for an interesting intersection of ideas and dynamics. There is a lot of wisdom to be found everywhere – so much that the fear I have is that I’ll never have enough time to find it all. But, I also see this as a good problem to have. Because I truly enjoy it.

The way I see it, if I ask better questions, I’ll get better answers, and then I can make better decisions. I’m just like everyone else, I’m just trying to figure it all out and stay sane in the process. However, I do understand the difference between knowing something and actually doing something. I am trying to “do” better in the process. It can take time to change our way of thinking – even when we really want to. I personally believe that repeated exposure to better perspectives is the best way to overcome unproductive thinking. So, bring it on!

Current Perspectives being considered (too many to list but here’s a few)

Influencers: Gary Vaynerchuk & guests, Cy Wakeman, Andy Andrews, Ray Dalio, Cal Newport, Marie Forleo & guests, Kelsey Humpreys & guests, Lewis Howes

Social Media: Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter: Several people interested in personal development, instructional design, improvement, leadership, productivity, authenticity, etc.

Work: Medical students, nursing students, nurse practitioner students, physician assistant students, co-workers, and other healthcare-associated students.

Instructional design: Previous courses of Performance Improvement, Learning Psychology, Digital Tools, Teaching and Learning Strategies – and upcoming courses of Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Instructional Design.

Books: Too many to even list (available upon request..ha!)

You can also follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter @brandylrhodes1 and Instagram @brandylrhodes

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