Simple question, “What are you great at?” Some can sing and others are great with relationships. Solving complex math problems is easy for another, while growing plants is someone else’s sweet spot. We are each endowed with “gifts” that are ours to polish.
It took me some time to understand what my gifts are. For starters, I was quickly relegated into thinking about my life in terms of roles. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was a question asked often by well-meaning relatives and adults. Usually they brought a set of approved of answers with the question. The problem is, this was the wrong question to ask.
I was on a track that was guided by others early on. By junior high, I was sure I wanted to be an electronics engineer. It was an improved version of my dad. Coming out of high school, I switched to being a business person. I wanted to be someone who managed and led people. This orientation was amplified in college.
So off I went on my life’s journey with my programming loaded. I had success and failure along the way. This was measured by the financial outcome of the businesses I started or managed. Deep inside, I felt a rumbling that this was the wrong way to think about myself. Yet, it persisted for many years.
As I slid into my 50s, my restlessness was pretty intense. I was reasonably good at the business game, and still, something felt off. I didn’t feel particularly energized by each win or loss. This unrest reached a crescendo a few years later. With the assistance of some wonderful teachers, I began to ask of myself the questions that the adults of my childhood didn’t know to ask.
I wondered what my purpose was. What was calling me to service? I also began to unearth what I loved to do. Most of my revelations were what I already knew. I held it in a new light. I realized that these things I did well, like understanding others concerns, seeing the truth of a situation, and clearly communicating were not fully developed.
Gifts are like precious stones, they are valuable in the raw form. Their real value though, can be more readily seen when they are polished and their facets are revealed. For the past ten years, I’ve been working on polishing my gifts and finding that they become great when I do.
Recently, I embraced writing as a gift and I have been exploring the craft of writing. It is exhilarating mostly and frustrating at times. Walking this track is honing my understanding of deepening a gift through recognizing the craft that surrounds it.
I am finding my greatness. It’s different than I thought and not about being better than anyone else. It’s polishing those stones and appreciating their facets.