“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive.”
- Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
“Sure you can. You can be anything you want, honey.” How many of you have told your kids that when they tell you they want to be an astronaut or marine biologist?
I know I have.
It’s ok to say when we’re talking to kids about what they want to be when they grow up. The problem is that we’re living in a society that tells us “the sky’s the limit.”
We set the bar too high and we fail as a result.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with it but what if we focused on our strengths – stuff we’re good at – instead of our weaknesses?
I’d bet that we’d be a lot more productive at work. I’d bet we’d have a better outlook on life.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
- Maya Angelo
I’m fortunate, despite my progressive illness, to have managed a great group of people for a lot longer than I expected. I have seen productivity go through the roof when I plug people into places doing things that they’re good at.
I’ve also seen it stall out when they’re doing things they’re not.
I can usually figure out someone’s strengths by watching them. Talking to them. That’s one of MY strengths, but there’s a more formal way to do it, too – the Gallup StrengthsFinder.
I knew what I thought my strengths should be. I knew how people defined me. I knew what I hoped they would be.
Guess what? I was wrong.
Now you’d think that I could influence the test – that I would answer the questions in a way that would give me the results that I’d hoped for.
I found out, though, that I wasn’t even close.
I discovered that there was a reason I could do some things that others couldn’t. I learned that I could take a spot in the job market that was different than I what I had been trying for. I could be better than average – even great – at something and be passionate about it.
It wasn’t what I thought I should be good at, but it was honest and unbiased.
I also know from experience that I will continue to steadily lose function in a lot of areas. Sound familiar?
We all lose our abilities as we age. The important thing is to keep doing what we’re good at, or WERE good at, despite those changes.
These are your strengths. These are the things you’re built for. It’s not about working hard to get better at it, but about doing something that comes naturally.
That feels good.
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me,
And I’m feelin’ good.”
- Nina Simone
I’m a drummer. I’ve been drumming all of my life, but I can’t even come close to what I could do back in the day. I still drum everyday, though – because it feels good.
I cruise a number of forums for people with MS. They are continuously flooded with people that are depressed about what they can’t do. What they used to be.
Doing something that comes naturally and makes you feel good isn’t about being judged. It’s not about being compared to somebody else.
It’s about self-confidence and your ability to keep your passion alive. So keep doing it even if you’ve lost a step – or three.
Are you losing your abilities and acting like it’s the end of the world?
Share your gifts but don’t worry about what other people think. Do it for you.
Do what makes you feel good and the results may surprise you.