Don’t we all want to be known as unique and unrivaled?
From grade school through high school, I had a best buddy named Phil Kamibayashiyama. He was smart. I mean, before I could spell Scott, he could spell Kamibayashiyama. Given that kind of competition, I gave up plans on becoming valedictorian. I settled for class clown.
We all crave distinction.
But then Jeff transferred into my school. Now Jeff, he was funny. Because of him, I gave up plans of becoming class clown and strove to become a jock.
Classmate Bryan had this tall, lanky build and seemed born with a soccer ball levitating off his foot. Because of him, I gave up plans of becoming a jock, and I became a rebel instead.
Resolve to become more of who you were created to be!
Many possess the ability to be just about anything they set out to be. Like me in school. When interested in a particular subject, I excelled. When I wanted to generate a laugh in class, I’d go for the line. When I desired to play sports, I managed to play well enough to start on a soccer team that went to nationals for three of my four years.
While I might have experienced some accidental times of brilliance in those areas, I don’t think my distinction lies in smarts, humor, or athleticism. No, my distinction–my more-than-momentary flashes of greatness–happens when I step into my strengths and act within my area of greatest purpose.
And your distinction–the time when you live at your happiest and highest performing version of yourself–happens the moment you step into your strengths and act upon your purpose.
1. Step into your strengths. Stepping into your strengths is like slipping into your favorite pair of jeans: the fit is great, and it makes you happy both inside and out.
As a coach, I teach leaders to be true to themselves, to act with authenticity. Do you know what happens when people try to innovate like Steve Jobs, invest like Warren Buffett, redefine boundaries like Jeff Bezos, or bring-back-the-fun like Tony Hsieh? They fail. Copies are never as crisp as originals. The only people who should act like Jobs, Buffett, Bezos, and Hsieh are Jobs, Buffett, Bezos, and Hsieh.
Resolve to act more on your own strengths, whatever they might be. List them. If you can’t come up with a list on your own, ask your friends. Post on social media this question: “What 3 words would you use to describe me to someone who hasn’t met me?” Those are your strengths, the attributes that are uniquely, distinctly you.
When you rely on your strengths, your weaknesses shrink. You don’t have space for weakness when you’re in your zone. When you act on your strengths, you’re happier and few can beat you.
2. Act on your purpose. You have one. We all do. Act on it. Because when you aren’t living for the purpose you were created to fulfill, it’s like having an itch you can’t reach.
In high school, I took the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory that predicted I would be best suited in the field of teaching, probably history or law. Since my first paper route at age 8, I’ve had over 30 jobs, from making $.50 for shoveling a driveway to making significantly more. But my happiness has never corresponded with how much money I made. In fact, my happiest recurring dream involves the time I worked in a group home with troubled kids as a family teacher, a time when I felt like a missionary (meaning, I made almost no money, and when the natives were restless, they seemed on the verge of throwing me in a pot of boiling water).
Your purpose is that which makes you come alive. If your purpose involves helping people, money won’t bring you happiness. If your purpose involves growing business, smiling faces might not bring you happiness.
Mom. Dad. Child. Parent. Husband. Wife. Friend. Philanthropist. Christ-follower. Artist. Writer. Leader. Civil rights activist. Don’t limit thinking about your purpose as something that pays the bills. Your purpose is what fuels you to get out of bed in the morning, to give a little extra, to engage even when you’re tired. Your purpose is what makes your tail wag.
And if you don’t yet know your purpose, you now have one: finding your purpose.
2 Comments Add yours
Scott, as usual, your insight is right on track. I spent way too much time trying to strengthen my weaknesses and too little capitalizing on my strengths. What I learned is that working on my strengths also strengthened my weaknesses. Finding my purpose came slow. I was a late bloomer and really didn’t realize that the military was the right career choice for me until I had 8 years in. Everything I did in the military prepared me for what I am finally now doing in my retirement. I am coaching and mentoring others to reach their goals. The only interest tool I recall ever taking was the ELCA Spiritual Gifts Assessment Tool. If you are interested in trying that, you can go to the ELCA web site and go to Resources. From there I typed in Spiritual Gifts in the search box and the tool comes up. While at first you might think it is a focus on church service, it really does give good insight to your secular life.
Keep ’em coming.
Great seeing you and your very lovely family on Saturday.
I will check out the ELCA website. I’m always interested in learning something new! About strengths and purpose, I had many indications about where I should be to hit my zone, but, like many, I had to have some firsthand experience to realize what made me come alive.