The BIG question: How to discover your gift?
The "GAME OVER" article: After reading this you'll never be the same again.
Whenever I do sessions of “how to discover your gift” with school learners, it is very hard as most have not lived long enough to answer questions that will point them to their gifts. This is because the clues into pin pointing your natural talents always lie in retrospect; what you have been through, what you have survived, what you succeeded in, what you failed in and where has life tried to steer you. I am sure by now you have lived long enough to identify these facts of evidence in your life.
Uncovering your gift is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your life. It is one of the important determining factors of success (if not the most important) of life as a whole. The earlier you uncover it, the better for you and the more time you will have to refine and purify it. Imagine if you had dived in and spent time on what you were gifted in when you were younger? Where would you be now? What would be your level of skill in your area of gifting? How much would you have refined your gift?
There are two ways of getting down to your core. You can either cut down to it yourself, or you can rot down to it.
Cutting down to your core means being honest with yourself about who you really are. Questions have been provided in this section to help you with this.
Rotting down to your core means life itself will reveal your gift and circumstances will lead to this discovery. The problem is that rotting is associated with a mess, meaning that there will be many unnecessary detours that you take that will waste your time and which you wish you never undertook (e.g. going to tertiary and refining the wrong thing). This means that it will be a mess first before you actually get down to your core.
For most of us it is already a mess because we lacked information of the truth from the beginning. We therefore have rotted down to the core, which was not a pleasant experience at all (I am sure you can relate with your own individual story). Remember that your time is your life; if time is wasted, life is also wasted. But time can be redeemed by just simply changing the way you think, and this book is a great tool to help with this process.
Everything you learn about yourself has always been there. It is just waiting to be revealed to you and only you can go through that process.
The following questions should be answered HONESTLY. They will guide you to determine what your gift is and will help you to cut down to your core, instead of decaying down to it. To simplify some of the questions, I have used myself as an example of how I used these questions to recognize my gift. Of course, your story is completely different to mine.
1. What do you do best when you are under pressure?
You can tell how strong someone is physically by the size of the weight they can lift. Likewise, you can tell where your gift is by where you can carry the highest pressure/weight. This is because a force (which is equal to pressure) will always produce a reaction. If your reaction is large – meaning you have strength to withstand – you are gifted in that area. If your reaction is minimal – meaning you have less strength to withstand – this is not your area of gifting. What you can withstand pressure well when other people crumble is usually your area of gifting.
During orals at school I always had the best marks. This was because standing in front of other learners and delivering something of value to them made me shine and brought out the best in me even under the pressure of so many eyes (including all my girlfriends in the same class). I was not the best in all my subjects, nor the best on the playing field but when it was time for oral assessments, I was always first and I outdid everybody. When other learners stood in front of the class, the stage swallowed them, but not me. I excelled under the pressure. To this day, I still handle this kind of pressure well because a big chunk of my gift lies in communication.
Just to name a few examples:
· Some people shine when a spotlight is turned on them under pressure (in front of a camera or behind a microphone).
· Some people shine when working in private on difficult tasks while others can literally go crazy by the loneliness.
· Some people can communicate well and can actually talk themselves out of trouble with their mouth
· Others can work well under pressure with numbers and stats, meaning their gift lies with numbers.
· Others handle people well when difficulties arise in organizations, while others crumble under this pressure.
What pressure is too much for you? What are your limitations and what can you withstand? To discover your gift, you must discern your highest pressure-point which other people cannot handle when you have the ability to handle.
It is not wrong to fail under pressure in a particular area; it simply means that you have no strength in that area and your gifts do not lie there. Even elastic bands were designed to stretch, but if stretched beyond their elastic limit, there’s a big chance that they will snap because they are designed to withstand a particular force only.
Some people will say that we MUST withstand pressure in every circumstance. Why? If we can’t cope with something, why do we keep doing it?
2. What do you notice that others do not notice?
What do you look at almost every day and think to yourself:
· I can do this better!
· I can improve this!
· There is more to this!
· There has to be a better way to do this!
What do you pick up from scenarios or situations where others tend to not notice? What do you think about that other people tend to be uninvolved and unattached to? What is it that you don’t have to force yourself to think about? What do you think about naturally without even trying?
Imagine a choir singing in a concert. Everyone hears the choir sing fantastically but you notice that the altos are off key. Only you may notice it while the rest of the audience hear a marvelous sound. This happens to you because only you have an ear for music, and only you can fix it. I believe that what you notice is what you are “called” to fix.
I believe that we are all smart and mindful on a higher level in our particular area of gifting. The territory you are smart in is where your attention is naturally undivided, your observation and awareness are high and where you are attentive. When something is explained and it fascinates you, you will find it easier to concentrate on and your mind will not wander around easily. This is because the subject matter resonates with you. You will know where your gift is by what you easily concentrate on and what you can’t stop listening to.
I personally saw a need to share this information with you because I had observed that many of us lacked knowledge about the power that is possessed in our gifts. We are so unaware of our natural talents that we die not having used them in any way shape or form. What needs do you want to meet where you have the power to supply solutions? Where do you see a deficit and a lack? Where do you anticipate that there will be a shortfall?
3. What do you have the urge to uncover?
I can guarantee that anything in your life that you can do really well you were not taught by anyone. You might have been introduced to it by someone but you went the extra mile into getting into the derivations that elevated your knowledge. You might have been taught application but you stepped into derivations by yourself because your gift naturally allows you to do this.
While I was studying engineering, the lecturers derived scientific equations before we could use them because we had to obtain the logic from their source or origin. This was a requirement for engineering students as it shaped our thinking of scientific phenomena and the way we applied it. Gifted individuals would love the derivation because they had the urge to understand how to get to a formula. They wanted to do more with the formula they receive than merely putting numbers into the equation and getting an answer. On the other hand I didn’t care about the derivation; I just wanted the formula, put numbers in it, get an answer, pass the test and move on to the next class. This showed that technical phenomena was not in my area of gifting because my urge was to get answers and not to understand scientific phenomena.
Similarly, you must recognize an area where you want to gain, extract more of (the thing you want to obtain) and further break down because this is where you can get more success in terms of understanding. And when you understand something on a fundamental level you will rule the ignorant.
There are too many people who live a routine life of application and fewer people who are busy with uncovering. A career is good but in my opinion it is only an application. With your gift, you will go deeper into derivation (like the gifted engineering students) and will even develop new methods and new ways of application that have never been seen before because you are in a freestyle zone where there are no restrictions.
Ever notice how the best ideas come from people who were working from home? This is because at home there is no application happening; only derivations where a person is not restricted by anything to freestyle their gift and discovering new methods of doing things. Very few new ideas that changed the world have come from a job (a place of application)
4. What happened in your life that you could not control?
My father spent time in hospital because he had been diagnosed with kidney failure. He spent the first two weeks in one ward and then asked to be transferred to another ward within the hospital when beds became available. I asked him why he wanted to be moved and he said that the nurse who was handling his case did not treat him well. She had no empathy with the patients that were allocated to her. In the new ward where he was placed, the nurse in charge provided care on a different level. She gave her patients the best care, supervision and hope, which my father said resulted in his healing quicker. Being curious, I asked the nurse why she treated her patients with such care. She replied, “I have been sick before and I know what it is like to lie down in a hospital bed.”
You are called to a purpose and given a gift because, in some way, you are connected to the crisis of the purpose. The best social worker to counsel a rape victim is a person who was also raped. They are connected to the crisis of rape. That one piece in the social worker’s life attaches itself to what has happened to the rape victim, and others who they are still to help who will benefit from the event that happened which couldn’t be controlled.
Your purpose will allow for a matter in your life that is unwelcome and harmful, which will need to be dealt with and overcome by you. You cannot control it but once you have conquered and overcome it, you will be stronger and enduring. You will have a natural urgency and passion to want to resolve and disentangle problems concerning that area of pain in your life.
If you look at your life and circumstances as one piece of the puzzle, you will fail to see the bigger picture. But if you take one piece and put it with other pieces of the puzzle, you will understand why it was necessary for you to go through what you went through that you couldn’t control. Some people love excuses and love to feel sorry for themselves if something bad has happened to them which they didn’t have control over. Yes it happened but it didn’t kill you! Can’t you see the bigger picture?
The place of your greatest agony is also the place of your greatest ministry. The place where you made the greatest sacrifice is where there will be the greatest success (this statement is not entirely true because you can waste time and sacrifice your life on something that will not bring you success).
5. What makes you angry?
Mother Teresa was a foreign teacher at St Mary’s High School in India when she witnessed people suffering and dying on the street every day on her way to school. One day she got so angry at what she saw and “couldn’t take it anymore”, thus requesting permission to leave the school and devote herself for the poor. Although she had no funds, she found shelter and looked after the poor and sick so that “they could die in piece” (in her words) - hence her name Mother Teresa.
Through her anger she ended up having 615 shelter houses in 124 countries with hundreds of thousands of volunteers
Drawing from her, one of the ways of recognizing your gift is through an overwhelming anger towards something that you have the ability to fix (that is bigger than you). You are the one that can fix something that worries you. What causes worry in your life and repeatedly interrupts you that others do not care about?
When I was in grade one and two, I used to travel to school by train. I passed a lot of traffic lights along the way. There was one specific traffic light near Briadene in Redhill that got my attention where I was amazed as to how very few people looked at it in order to cross the road. They didn’t know when to cross or when they should make way for cars. To solve this, I stood next to the traffic light and showed them the green man on the traffic light that allows way for pedestrians. I was angry and felt frustrated with the people for not looking at the robot at all, which could have resulted in someone getting knocked by a car. Looking back, I can now see that the gift for teaching and sharing information was always in me, I just had not recognized it yet.
What concerns you? What troubles you? What disrupts and causes an inconvenience to you?
6. What can you do that you have no problem repeating over and over?
Your gift is not a strenuous and toiling activity because it comes natural to you. I believe that it gives you life when everything else has the ability to make you tired. You rest while doing it and it is where you find peace. All the ease that your gift gives you is vital so that you are able to do it over and over in order to refine it.
Recognizing your gift is not enough but “clarifying and distilling” it is part of the process, which means doing it over and over until you are perfect – hence the ease at which you are able to do it. After observing this myself it is true that you are rewarded in public for what you have practiced for years in private – 10 years to be exact (Remember: there is a magic 10 to almost everything). Recognizing your gift is good but you still have to refine, ripen, mature and develop it because people cannot eat raw fruit. This means that you cannot be effective if you are an unfinished product. The fruit has to be ripen; in other words, practice really makes perfect. The advantage of practicing your gift is that you will always be perfect in the end, unlike practicing something that you will never be good at which is outside of your domain.
What is the one thing that you can perfect and make glorious in your life? What is that thing that you can keep doing for years in private, every day, where nobody sees or notices you? What is that one thing where you withstand the mediocre times where it seems like nothing is happening where you can still be as passionate about it as you were on the day you started?
7. What have you failed in?
We should NOT GIVE UP ON ANYTHING but occasionally failure shows us our weakness and what we should not focus on. It shows us where we should least expect success. Imagine all the things you have tried to be good at, only to find that you will never be successful in them and you actually failed in doing or achieving them – not due to ignorance but due to a lack of ability? Tough, isn’t it?
Your gift is not in such areas.
Sometimes you will discover your natural talent by what you are not good at naturally. For years and years I didn’t understand why I was not technical. I really thought something was wrong with me. But it finally dawned that if I am failing to solve machine problems (technical problems) then I must be good at decoding human problems (social problems).
8. What do people commend you for?
Take a moment and think back at what you were truly commended for by people who wouldn’t lie to you. There will always be that one thing that you do better than anybody else that people will commend you for. What do you do that people you trust say you are good at? What awards have you achieved or come close to achieving? What have you been acknowledged for? What subject in school did you excel at? In what area have you greatly exceeded expectations since at a young age?
So, what now?
After puzzling out the above questions in accordance with your life, the main question you should ask yourself is, “Does this gift benefit me or can it also benefit others?” If your gift is going to benefit only you, then it is not a gift, it’s your personal ambition. Remember that your personal ambition is your earnest desire for achievement or distinction (power, honour, fame, wealth) that will benefit only you. People driven by personal ambition are always after benefits; what can they get or what can you do for them.
Your gift is different; it is like a fruit which is there to feed everybody (not just you and your family). Gifted people will derive pleasure from doing what they love EVEN IF IT IS FOR FREE or if it’s for less than what they should be paid. This is why your gift can never be parallel or measured to your personal ambition. When you have refined it, you are like an apple tree. People will want your fruit and will come to you to get it. They do not want you, they want your fruit (your gift) and they will pay whatever it takes to get it.!