Give your true gifts this holiday season
I love beautiful things, especially those that are artfully crafted and imbued with the essence their creators, be they physical objects or less tangible creations such as an offering or an experience. Traditionally, “things” are what we choose to give as gifts during the holiday season, but this year, I am encouraging you to consider also giving another kind of gift – the gift of BEING YOU.
When I help people discover their inspired work, one of the many key pieces I have them clarify is identifying their unique set of gifts. Before I invite someone to work with me, one of the assessment questions I use to determine if I’m suited to help them is “Are you able to clearly define and articulate your gifts?” If they say “no”, then I know I definitely have something of value to offer to them. I estimate that approximately 90% of the people I ask say no. That’s not to say that all of them go on to work with me, but still, I find the number a little staggering.
How did we get to the point that we have so lost touch with our own inherent value that we can barely identify what it is we have to gift to others?
Well, however we got here, it certainly makes my work that much more enjoyable. I love seeing people light up when they internalize the fact that they have tremendous gifts to share with the world.
A school for people to discover their gifts
It’s quite a long story how it came to be that I now help people discover their gifts. I have the late Ken Robinson to partially thank for it, though. It was when I read his book “The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything” in 2009, it occurred to me that this was a huge aspect of my work. The book didn’t help me find my passion, per se, but within it was a sentence that certainly did change everything. The sentence read, “There are no schools for people to discover their gifts.” Those ten simple words changed the trajectory of my entire life. That was the exact moment when I decided to start this business.
Before that time, I had already been serving as a business instructor and coach and I noticed a pattern with almost everyone who signed on to work with me – they were not clear about who they were and what they had to offer. Most had an externalized understanding of themselves in relationship to their work, meaning they saw their work as something they “did” separate from themselves and not as an expression of who they are. Largely, we are a society disconnected from ourselves in our work. If we want to be in our highest service to others, then it is imperative to be able to identify our gifts so that we can create opportunities to share them with the world.
What is a “gift”?
One of the reasons people have a difficult time identifying their own gifts is that there isn’t a standard definition of what a gift is. We are urged to “give our gifts”, but we are not provided with a framework that helps us understand what it is exactly that we have to give.
If we first look at the conventional idea of a gift, as I mentioned above, it is simply something we give. Of course, the holidays are customarily a time of exchanging gifts, however, the actual meaning of the word “gift” is that it is something we give without expectation of anything in return.
A gift is something we give without expectation of anything in return.
In relation to work, this idea of a gift can be used similarly. Our gifts are the “things” we have to give to others for their benefit. So then, what is it we have to give? It can be challenging to answer this because most of us overlook the most obvious thing, which is that what we have to give is ourselves.
You were born with your gifts
When I say what you have to give is yourself, what I am referring to are your inherent traits and abilities. These are what I define as your “strengths”. Your strengths are the qualities you were born with – they are who you are, they are how you show up in the world. You need not learn them or practice them, you already are them. This is what I mean when I say we take ourselves for granted. We spend so much time attempting to acquire knowledge or skills to become more valuable to the world, when our value is already built into our beingness.
Your strengths are your inherent traits or abilities.
If you then take your strengths and apply them in service to others, in other words, you give of yourself to others, what they receive as a benefit becomes your gift.
Your gifts are what others receive as a benefit of you applying your strengths.
To provide an example of the above, one of my strengths is I have the ability to see patterns in seemingly unrelated things and make sense of them. When I apply this ability to the benefit of my clients, I am able to help them see ways to integrate all of the varied experiences of their lives into a unified expression of their work. To simplify, what they receive as a result is clarity. Thus, one of my gifts is “clarity”.
To give another example from someone I am working with, one of her greatest strengths is her ability to find humour in any situation through her willingness to share the ugly truth from her own experiences. This helps others by bringing levity to difficult situations. Thus, one of her many gifts is a “lightness of being”. And it’s so true. In her presence, we always have a hearty laugh about the ridiculousness of life and I feel lighter for it.
The above are but two examples. The reality is that every single person has numerous strengths and multiple corresponding gifts.
Identify your true gifts
So as not to overwhelm yourself with all of your own splendour (said with a cheeky smile), I like to recommend starting your own list by first identifying ten of your greatest strengths. Write out statements that declare your inherent qualities and be as specific as you can be.
A statement of your strength is “I am…” or “I have the ability to…”
From there, then consider all the ways each strength could help others and list the benefits as your corresponding gifts.
A statement of your gift is “I help people…”
If you’re not sure how your strength is helpful to others, ask them. Have a conversation with a family member or a work colleague and be curious. If you applied your strength in service to them, how would it benefit them? Every person you ask might tell you something different. In other words, just one aspect of who you are might provide multiple gifts to the world. You might be astounded by how many gifts you actually have.
The gift of being you
The magic of using this framework as a way of identifying your gifts is that you don’t have to actually do anything other than be exactly who you are. You simply be you, without expectation of anything in return, and others benefit. Whether you apply this to your work, or to your life in general, it is satisfying to know that who you are is inherently valuable. That’s inner peace, right there.
So this holiday season, instead of rushing around trying to find things to give to others, realize that you already bless them with the most valuable thing you have to give, which is YOU. The sparkle of you being in your true gifts is all that is needed.
Joy to the world, indeed.
If you’d like to learn more about discovering your true gifts, join me for a free online mini-workshop and recognize how your tremendous value comes from you BEING YOU.