When we become “adults,” we go out into the world and hope to make our mark. Most of us want to live “successful” lives; we want to be financially stable, respected in our work, and enjoy loving relationships with our family and friends. We often have an image of what that successful person looks like.
What would they wear? How would they carry themselves? How would people act around them?
As you paint that visual of your “successful self,” how does it compare to what you’d see if you looked in the mirror right now?
Sadly, most people wouldn’t find much similarity. Perhaps they’re thinking something along the lines of “Well – I’d have to be wearing my power suit, with my hair and makeup on point. And have my PhD. Then I could be the future me that I envisioned.”
We often think about our external factors: Where did I go to school? How many degrees do I have? What awards have I won? Where am I an “expert”? These are common questions in today’s workplace.
However, since starting my business, I learned that those factors had nothing to do with my success. It wasn’t until I started to identify and own my gifts that I realized my greatest qualities have lived within me since my earliest memories.
My greatest gift is my awareness of and connection to others’ emotional experiences. They call it “emotional intelligence” these days, but throughout my childhood and my young adulthood, I was always told it was being “too sensitive” and “a crybaby,” that I ought to “learn how to separate more” and “let things go.” Those messages plagued my life. To the point that I felt a burden that weighed on me every day.
Why couldn’t I just care less? I mean, everyone else around me seemed to be fine with that.
In my previous career, I worked in the nonprofit sector and I soared. I developed national best practice models, drove record-breaking increases in philanthropy, and built a stellar reputation. How do you think I made all of that happen?
The difference between me and my counterparts was rooted in our fundamental approach to people. I thought about how people felt when they got an email from me, when they saw my name on their caller ID, when I asked them for a donation, and when I asked them about their lives. Whereas most of my peers wanted to get straight to the point, I wanted to enjoy the journey of getting there together.
My greatest burden for 30 years was finally realized as my greatest gift. It was my superpower.
My business, lifestyle, and purpose are all grounded in the understanding of how I developed my sensitivities – from challenging life experiences – and how they made me special. I understand how to be empathetic and care deeply for others because I know how it feels to not have my voice heard.
We all have these gifts. But sometimes they can be disguised as sorrow, pain, and burden. Other times they’re obvious to everyone but yourself!
Ask yourself these six questions. They’re designed to help you reflect on your life experiences and how they may have shaped the unique gifts you bring to the world:
- What parts of your personality make you unique?
- What activities in life bring you the most joy?
- When have you felt ‘different’ and how did you handle it?
- What’s something you gained a deep knowledge of through life experience?
- When was there a time you walked into a situation as one person, and left as another?
- Have you ever had someone tell you that you’ve inspired them, even if you were just doing something you considered “normal”?
If you’re having trouble finding an answer, try asking someone you trust to help. They don’t have to be close to you – there are many times in life when an objective perspective can offer helpful insights.
Remember, when you’re able to show up as your authentic self every day, you are activating your superpowers and owning your gifts. You’ll live a more rewarding life, and this will be the source of your motivation to reach the peak of whatever you define as success.
What are your gifts?
For Carey students: Join the Career Development team on Monday, April 3rd, at our HE campus for MaryBeth’s presentation “Own Your Gifts.” Click here to register for this event through Carey Compass. Not able to attend MaryBeth’s session in HE? We have good news: you can access the event through Adobe Connect!