Perhaps it’s because of the holiday season, but lately I’ve been thinking about how your gifts are potentially more important (and easier to find) than your purpose.
The topic of “finding purpose” is everywhere. A simple Google search for “finding purpose” yields over one billion results. A search for “books about finding purpose” provides almost seven million.
But what if our purpose is simply to use the gifts we are given?
I recently read an email from Rick Warren (ironically the author of a Purpose-Driven Life) that said, “If you gave me a Christmas gift and I never opened it, you would be disappointed. And it would be a worthless gift, because I don’t receive the benefit of a gift I never opened.”
He was talking about the gifts we receive from God (or whatever word you’d prefer to use as a spiritual reference.) I agree with this idea; that we receive gifts, and not just on Christmas. It explains why we’re all good at different things, and why we each have different life experiences and circumstances. It also explains why, when we’re disconnected with these, life can feel empty.
As I mentioned before, I also believe that our gifts are far easier to identify than our purpose. Gifts are often undeniable, whereas purpose is taken solely on faith. Gifts also come in many forms, and magic seems to happen when they are used together. This is what makes us each unique.
This may come as a surprise to you, but I have no idea if coaching is my purpose. What I do know is that it’s been informed by my gifts, and practicing it brings me great joy.
For years, colleagues and friends told me how much they appreciated my help to discover their own answers, versus telling them what to do. I was often a close confidante as a result, and commonly heard the statement, “I’ve never told anyone this before.” People also told me they admired my ability to take complex ideas and explain them in a way that was more simple and easy to understand. And I always knew I possessed an ability to read between the lines and see signs of what was going on with someone, sometimes long before they did.
These things, combined with my intense curiosity for psychology and a belief that everything happens for a reason, led me to become a coach (and a spiritual one at that.) But it wasn’t until I heard these things repeated to me for almost 15 years that I realized their potential. Initially, I didn’t see them as gifts; I just saw them as things I knew how to do.
More recently, I’ve gotten feedback about my writing and speaking abilities, both of which I’ve always enjoyed. These gifts are taking me down a new path, and I have no idea what will happen. Maybe I’ll discover purpose beyond coaching. Maybe it will be nice to to know I’m no longer a liar. (I lied about writing a book as a child, and once while drunk in my twenties.) Mostly I just choose to trust that someone or something else has my purpose handled, which leaves me free to follow the signs and have fun.
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to consider the following:
- What feedback do you consistently receive from others?
- What are things that people regularly compliment you for?
- What would you love to do if money were not an issue?
- What experiences have shaped who you are today?
Underneath these questions are where your gifts may hide, and sometimes in plain sight.
Also, this isn’t to say that you should only listen to what other people say. The point is simply that sometimes we tend to overlook or underestimate our gifts, and other people can be great mirrors to remind us of the truth.