Have you done a self-assessment lately? And I don’t mean the playing and re-playing of the worst dialogue your internal critic can dish out. I mean taking the time and thought to inventory your skills, your gifts, your finest qualities?
What is it exactly that you excel at? Are you a successful breeder of fine cattle? An awesome mom? An experienced seamstress? A powerful writer? A confident public speaker?
Do you really shine at behind the scenes volunteer work? Do you grow the best petunias for miles around? Do you hold the secret to stain removal? Are you the best listener ever?
Each of us has areas of expertise — those activities or behaviours that seem effortless, second-nature. They may be the result of a God-given talent, years of trial and error or courses, classes and practice.
You may have dismissed it as “no big deal”.
I’m here to tell you it is a big deal. So claim your gifts. Don’t be intimidated by the size of your talent or judge its worth against someone else’s unique skills.
I ask that you do one more thing with your gifts. Share them. I believe anyone who has achieved any success in any field has a moral obligation to share it, to mentor those coming along behind. To see a spark of talent or promise or interest in someone else and to fan the flames. To offer advice, a guiding hand, tips, a gentle nudge, whatever it takes. To open that someone’s eyes and heart to the possibilities. To give a hand up.
None of us have achieved success single-handedly. We’ve all been mentored, encouraged, supported, challenged, maybe even pushed. We owe that same degree of effort to others.
Incidentally I define ‘others’ very broadly. They may be children — your own or other people’s. They may be the young mother or farmer or colleague down your road or in the next cubicle. It may even be a total stranger — perhaps a waitress or a sales clerk — whose path has crossed yours however briefly.
We can’t possibly know the power and lasting effect well-timed words or actions may have on another. An at-risk kid given a second chance. An over-wrought mother finding an alternative to smacking her kid. A struggling farmer turning around his operation. A once- confused teen choosing a career path.
Mentoring can take many forms. Acknowledging a success with a card or letter allows the recipient to reread your words when the going gets tough. A smile, a wink, a thumbs up are great non-verbal affirmations. A letter of praise for a job well done that finds its way into a personnel file. The daily opportunities parents, teachers, coaches have to spot and encourage good works. Lending resources, sharing addresses, making connections, calling on someone’s behalf can all open doors. Being available by telephone or in person when obstacles seem monumental and hope is running dry.
Sharing your gifts is the finest thanks you can give your mentors, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission