Everyone has a unique gift -- something that is just undeniably "you" and is precisely useful to those around you. It's much more than a skill -- it is an ingrained strength fueled by your deepest passions, and nurtured by an unwavering sense of purpose. Most people never find their unique gift, either because they don't realize they have one, don't believe they have one, haven't attempted to find it, or don't recognize it when it is staring them in the face. For those willing to start the search, this top 10 is for you.
You have probably heard this before. That's because it works. Think back as far as you can, to pre-school days if possible. Think back to times when you weren't influenced by peers or fears. Back to times when your parents' expectations of you didn't go beyond you playing and exploring in a safe environment. What did you do? How did you fill your days? What activities or experiences created the greatest memories? What was the most fun? The common thread in there is a message that, with a little reinterpreting to fit your adult world, will propel you down the path toward your unique gift.
When is the last time you lost track of time? Are there activities that you find so engrossing that you don't think about time, or eating, or sleeping? Do you have these experiences at work? Do your hobbies and leisure activities fall into this category? Moments of lost time point towards areas of strong interest and deep passions, another key stepping-stone on the path towards your unique gift.
Friends, family, associates, or trusted advisors get to observe you in ways that you cannot observe yourself. Their insights can be valuable, revealing, endorsing, and reinforcing. Many times, their observations have greater clarity than self-analysis that is surrounded by a fog of self-talk. Query some close observers about your strengths, skills, and unique talents. "What makes me unique? What do you think I do particularly well? What is my strongest skill or characteristic?" They may not nail your unique gift, but they will offer clues.
There are numerous, scientifically validated assessment tools that can help individuals determine key personality traits, interests, skills, and areas of expertise. Myers-Briggs, DISC, and CDR are but a few. As with asking others, these tools will provide valuable clues. You must be willing to answer the questions as honestly as you can. If you've done these, try the Strengths Finder. I have found it to be very accurate and helpful.
When you climb to the top of a tree, you see the forest, at the bottom you only see a few trees. Create some space in your life so that you have the opportunity gain perspective. This will help you determine the general direction you should be moving in, which will then lead to a more defined path, and eventually your own personal trail blazed with your unique gift. Unclutter your life from activities, people and things that keep you from having space.
This is the extreme of creating space. If you find creating space in your daily life difficult, or if you have created space and are ready to go to the next level, go solo for a week. Go camping, find a cabin, a deserted island, go sailing -- be alone for a week. No distractions. Start listening. After you overcome the fear of being alone with yourself, you will start to hear.
Write down your thoughts every day. Record observations, intuitions, feelings, revelations, and shifts in perspective. Your journal will begin to reveal patterns -- those created by common threads that represent areas of strong interest, honesty regarding feelings, awareness of special skills, and a natural draw toward certain people, places, and purposes.
Imagine that you brush up against a magic lamp, and out pops a genie. The genie says, "I am here to grant you 20 experiences, of your choosing, to be enjoyed sometime in your lifetime." What would your list look like? This list represents more clues. These experiences represent your true values, your interests, and your passions. Then give yourself at least one of these experiences soon.
You don't have to switch jobs or your profession to find (or honor) your unique gift, though those are possibilities. Start by pulling out your current job description. Identify everything you really enjoy doing, and everything that you have to do but would prefer not to do. Next, identify items that are not part of your job description that you would like to do. Now that you've distinguished the wants from the shoulds, start to rebuild your job into the "perfect" job. Renegotiate what you can!
You know the feeling of joyful anticipation as you look forward to a special event or day? Like Christmas morning, or your birthday as a child, or getting ready for vacation, or daydreaming in school on the first warm day of spring. These are positive butterflies, in contrast to those we get from nervous anticipation. Have you ever had positive butterflies while thinking about a project? Perhaps it's a special project at work, or coaching a soccer team, or fixing up the yard, volunteering at church, organizing a golf outing, or looking forward to a quiet day with a book, or preparing for a marathon. Which butterflies might represent your gift?
Everyone has something unique to offer. Give yourself the opportunity to find it. A fulfilling life will emerge from a conscientious approach to living and sharing what is in your talent DNA. If you find yourself stuck trying to name it, get a coach or find some like-minded folks and get unstuck. You need not deny yourself the joy of following a fulfilling path, and discovering your unique gift.
By the way, you have probably noticed that this top 10 list has 11 items. Isn't that unique?!
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