I was always taught to be “humble” about my abilities. I was under the impression that it was prideful to talk about what I was good at…or to even think that I was good at it. And to say that I was better at it than someone else was downright arrogant.
Your abilities are a huge part of your nation’s natural resources (and when you’re just starting out, sometimes your abilities are all your nation has). When you downplay them, you hold back what your nation can do.
I have learned that humility is just having an honest view of myself. No exaggerating. No minimizing. Being good at something is not reason to be worshipped or envied. And being bad at something is not grounds for beating myself up. So, let me give you permission to be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. You have incredible abilities! Own them.
Notice what gives you energy. Then do THAT!
The things you are naturally good at will give you energy, not suck it away. These resources are the ultimate in sustainability…the more you use them, the more you have.
Try keeping a log of your energy as you do different tasks and do them in different ways. Are you more energized when you have variety or repetition? Personal contact or solitude? Written work or verbal work? Etc. Notice it; write it down; and make a conscious effort to begin to reshape your day and your career around it.
What are your non-renewable resources?
Sarah was telling me about a study where they made a group of people resist eating cookies, while the other group got to eat the cookies. Afterward, the cookie-eaters were able to work much more diligently on a problem they were given. I thought she was going to say that the sugar gave their brains more energy. I know I’m pretty motivated by cookies. But, in fact, the group that had to resist was so exhausted from resisting the cookies, that they were not able to sustain the energy to concentrate on the problem at hand.
We as humans only have so much diligence, creativity, and energy. They can and do run out. It’s helpful to think about what is in your tank, and how much. If you know that you have a very limited supply of patience with dealing with clients, you have to be willing to design your workflow so it will minimize the demand for human interaction. Show some respect to your inner fossil fuel supplies before you exhaust your entire emotional ecosystem.
That’s an interest, not an aptitude.
Your aptitudes are the innate abilities that you were born with, which solidify around age 14, and don’t change much. Interests are affected by all sorts of outside factors like education and what your mom and dad told you to do for a living. Both are valid, but it’s important to know the difference. You can have an interest in music, but no aptitude for rhythm or tone. If you chase after an interest without focusing on the facets in which you are apt to succeed, you’ll just end up beating your head against a wall. Maybe, for you, pursuing music will be on the business side, or creating great venues.
And when you find what you’re bad at…
Improve if you can. And if you can’t, don’t do it. Or at least minimize how much you make yourself do it. To have a thriving nation, you have to be honest about your weak spots, and make it a point to fill them in. The solutions can vary.
If you’re struggling in something you know you have an aptitude for, it might just mean you need to broaden your own knowledge in that area, or changing your approach. Do some research. Ask questions. Don’t disqualify yourself or give up. And don’t keep doing a poor job.
Sometimes you just need to buy some new equipment. For a while I thought I sucked at photography, comparing my work to that of the people around me. Come to find out, the camera and lens you use makes a WORLD of difference. Now I know that I could succeed if and when I decide to fork out the money it would take to upgrade my gear.
Sometimes it’s all in the timing. Knowing what season you are in will save you gallons of frustration and disappointment. Do you have the money right now? Do you have the time in your schedule? Are you emotionally ready for this step? Just because the answers might be “no” for now, they won’t always be.
And finally, here’s a little secret: Collaboration = asking others for help. Gasp, I know. This is a good thing, a great thing. When you figure out what you are bad at, breathe a sigh of relief that you don’t have to do that anymore! Start talking with the people you want to collaborate with. It’s amazing how often they will just happen to love doing the things that make you cringe. Those activities give them energy. And everyone wins.
Let bright-spotting become a way of life.
Regularly look at your energy levels and your enthusiasm. Notice the bright spots where they were at their greatest. What were you doing? Why was it so enjoyable? Can you see a pattern? Then give yourself permission to duplicate those moments of glorious bliss. Stop bullying yourself or wishing you were someone else. You’re not. You’re awesome. Your nation needs you, your vision, your strengths. Build on your awesomeness, and watch it become awesomer than you ever imagined.