Some of my favorite Time-Wasters (you know, the things we do throughout the day that entertain us for a brief moment while we check out of reality) are those silly little quizzes you can take which result in some description of your personality. I have loved them since pre-internet days when you had to wait for the next issue of Seventeen Magazine to come out, hoping someone had been clever enough to create a new version of what was ultimately the same thing with a slightly different twist.
The internet (and BuzzFeed) have exploded this whole phenomenon into being a Time Waster with the potential to soak up every waking moment, get you fired from your job, and give you carpal tunnel syndrome all in the same week. I am happy to report that I have enough self-discipline to allow NONE of this to happen, though I will admit I am quite clear as to which Hogwarts House I belong, what my Patronus is, how my personality impacts my life, what color my aura is, and what my spirit animal is (I had a lot of time to do quizzes in effort to ignore all the political posts over the past weeks).
While I view these quizzes to (clearly) be simple, mildly entertaining pastimes, I do believe that there are components of the process which actually have some merit. I don’t mean for you to log on to BuzzFeed and find out which Disney Princess you are. I mean that taking time in your life to reflect on your strengths is a healthy use of time. Everyone has strengths…even the people in your life you don’t care to spend as much time with for one reason or another. Everyone has them. And everyone also has one strength that flows so deeply within their core, it should be viewed as a Gift.
Individual gifts come in many forms. Some are easily apparent to others, some gifts are harder to understand from an onlooker’s perspective. I know some who are gifted with open minds, others who radiate with patience. Self-discipline is inherent for a few of my friends, being genuine and kind is a quality I know in some as well. The gifts to which I am referring are not always tangible, and are not to be confused with individual talents. For example, being a great runner is certainly commendable and fantastic. The running, however, is not the gift. The inner discipline it took to become great is the gift…it simply manifests in the form of running for that particular person. Becoming a great musician is the same…a wonderful talent to possess, but without the individual gift of that same self-discipline, the musician’s talent would not flourish.
Find a writing notebook and your favorite pen…make the time in your day to reflect on your own greatest gift. If you find yourself having trouble digging that deeply, I would suggest that you start with writing down the things you love to do the most. Some of that list will include things that you rarely get to do. For example, one thing I love to do is go to the beach in the summer. Clearly that doesn’t happen terribly often (especially in late February), but it most certainly makes the list. Start adding definition to the list of things you love. What attribute do these things speak to within you? What quality do you possess that draws you to this type of activity?
Flip your page and write another list…this time focus on the things you are good at. Be honest with yourself and know that the things you love and the things you are quite good at are often not the same thing. I absolutely love running…am I good at it? Not tremendously. Not by my own standards. On the flip side of the coin, the things you are good at may not be things you love. I absolutely loathe conflict, for example…who doesn’t? I am, however, quite good at conflict resolution for some godforsaken reason.
Take some time to mull over those lists and draw your own correlations. There are intangible attributes attached to each of those items you tagged. What are they? Use the margins and other pages to break it all down. When you begin to formulate a good, strong opinion of your own personal gift, the greatest strength flowing within you…start a whole new page with a huge title line in three different colors of Sharpie.
Its time to celebrate your gift. What are you going to do with it moving forward? What do you already do with it? And most importantly, how can you tap into your own personal gift to make the world around you a better place to be?