Using Your Super Powers
I think I’m witnessing a breakthrough – but I might be too close to realize it.
There have been probably too many times to count – those times I didn’t think I was ______ enough. (fill in the blank – smart, skinny, pretty, my business wasn’t big enough, or it wasn’t around long enough, I didn’t have the right degree, etc…) And that mentality held me back. I didn’t grow the business faster because I didn’t believe I was good enough or deserved to. Plus, I’ve never built a strong support system of other outsiders – I didn’t have a team to tell me, “screw them, do it anyways. You’re smarter than they are.” It’s not that I didn’t take chances. I did…But no matter what I did, I never thought I was enough.
I’m sitting in a different seat today; one where I see someone else who, for probably at least the last two years, has told himself he’s not ________ enough (mostly skilled, but likely other adjectives too). And as many times as I would argue that he was totally wrong – he is just as good – it didn’t seem to sink in. And as a result, I watched this person not live to his full potential.
…and then there was an appointment…
And during the appointment a long conversation… it was a sales pitch for both buyer and seller, but I also knew that to this person, the fact that we would even have such an appointment meant that someone else thought he is just as good/skilled/fill in the blank/as the others. And when someone else sees potential and believes in you, suddenly you start to believe in yourself, too. And things happen.
To tell yourself you are good enough – and believe it – is no easy task for many of us. Not on a daily basis anyways. I get it – I’ve constantly struggled. As a business owner, there have been plenty of days when I walked into an office of staff who (in my perception) were questioning me and my motives – doubtful of any success. Even today, I am sure some of that exists as our business continues to change. And even when we gained new business, my first role was proving our value to those not yet convinced. When you attend meetings, events, neighborhood/friend gatherings, you have to speak with confidence if you want others to believe in you. There are days you have to tell the stranger that everything is great when, in reality, things seem to be falling apart. Fake it ‘til you make it right?!?!
Faking it is one thing; believing it is another. I find the greatest opposing factor to telling yourself you are great is humility. For those of us who grew up with religion, the lessons around being humble and realizing you are nothing even close to the God who made heaven and earth can really leave an impression. Texts tell us to put others before ourselves. For a challenged mind, it’s a struggle between those lessons and telling ourselves we are better than anyone else when we need to win. Truly, how can we look at our competition and think that they suck when we are taught to be humble and put others before us? It’s as if they are exact opposites. So I delved a little and asked my Pastor what he thought. Here is what I have arrived at.
Are you being humble or are you hiding your gifts/talents from the world?
I’ve heard it in my yoga classes, and I’ve heard it from Pastor too – to pretend a talent doesn’t exist is only false humility. We were all created “perfectly imperfect,” with unique talents. Other people tell us when we are good at something, reinforcing our knowledge that the talents are there, so build upon it and use them! You may not be able to use your talents in your job, but you can use them in a hobby or volunteer effort. I had a co-worker tell me once that she couldn’t do her hobby as a job because it wouldn’t be fun any longer. That makes sense. It may not have paid the bills as a single parent either. But why hide your gifts, save your talents for later? Don’t downplay that which you have that others could use. It’s like in Good Will Hunting, when Matt Damon tells Ben Affleck he’s going to stay in town forever and raise a family. Affleck (fortunately) tells him that if that happens, he wasted his life, and that would be such a shame. Affleck continues, telling Damon he has a talent no one else has and his only hope is that one morning before work Afflack will walk up to Damon’s door and he won’t be there (because he’s left to use that talent). So let me be you Ben Affleck, and tell you what a shame it would be if you didn’t use that unique talent you have been given. Share it with the world!
When you use your talents, good things happen.
I have a book, The Universe Has Your Back. In it, the author explains how, when you are willing to be open to how you might use your talents, things just fall into place. Thus, the name of the book. It’s a good read when you need encouragement. When I started making decisions around what I was good at and enjoyed, things seemed to come together, well, magically. The right people showed up, I had time to work on special projects, and it all seemed easy. Pastor explains that “God has really beautifully arranged this network around us that we're taken care of even as we take care of others (the book of Acts is a great example of this).” I’m reminded of the phrase, “do what’s right and the right things happen.”
Using your talent to get ahead vs humility.
When we settle with the fact that we should be using our talents and not hiding them, things come together. And when that happens, we start to gain momentum. And the momentum carries us and we build upon that momentum to create better lives for ourselves. So when have we taken it too far? The line in the sand is described in the first Yama (as part of the eight limbs of yoga) – Ahimsa – do no harm. We can use talents but not to the point where it would harm others. Pastor put it so clearly when he explained that, “We put our trust in the God who gave us the skills and gifts to win, to get promoted, to provide for those He's placed around us. We only hesitate if those things are going to cost us in our connection to Him or the people He's put in our lives.”
So think about those talents you have been hiding or not using to their full potential and start finding ways to use them. They are natural to you, making life’s tasks a little easier. Besides, the world is missing out on all you have to offer. Pull away the fear, set aside the false humility and start doing what you were made for!