Someone asked me if my gift was professional coaching. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I mean it is a service stream in my business that I thoroughly enjoy but I felt kind of awkward saying it was my gift because it felt a bit egotistical, or boastful. Sometimes I think it is up to other people to recognize, comment and champion one of your skills as a ‘gift. But maybe I was just getting in my own way?
I was grateful for his question because I realized that one of the reason I enjoy executive business coaching is a bit selfish. Selfish because I definitely benefit from my clients. It widens my world and it helps me see other people’s perspectives, it builds my capacity for empathy and in my opinion, it makes me better. And I hope it makes me a better coach.
So why did I become a business coach?
I believe that people inherently want to do good work and provide value. I believe that humans want to be useful and to matter. I believe that sports and business are closely aligned and that the ability to be a good team mate is essential in both athletics and business.
My coaching philosophy is that by helping individuals recognize their natural gifts they will be able to put their strengths and challenges into perspective. This perspective will help them use their influence for good, have the confidence to become more proficient in areas where they are not flourishing and will ultimately empower them to be a high performance team player and leader.
Merriam Webster defines a gift, in the context to which I am referring, as a notable capacity, talent, or endowment. The gift you possess is natural, a talent that you were born with; an endowment that takes little effort. I also believe that having a gift is not where it ends. I believe that it is up to you to nurture and grow that gift so it can be used, so you can be used as a tool to make your corner of the world better.
So, how do you know what your gifts are?
As you grow up you realize there are things that you do with ease where others may struggle, which may at first baffle you because you cannot understand why it is hard for them when it seems so easy to you. That’s a gift. As life leads you along you come to understand that if we all had the same gifts, talents and strengths the world would be far less functional because we can’t all be good at everything and if we were all good at the same things there would be inevitable gaps.
You know your gifts by? Paying attention. That’s the big one, pay attention to things that come easily to you, pay attention to how you feel when you are doing those things. One big important lesson that the actor Robin Williams taught me was when an interviewer asked if he wanted his children to become actors? He said, ‘I want my children to do what they get lost in.’ The things you get lost in are signs of your gift. The things that you gladly become immersed in and realize hours have ticked by and you did not notice, that’s a sign. And your gift is combined with your passion and your passion with your contentment. Make sense?
Try this; in the movie Chariots of Fire (1981); a British historical drama film which tells the fact-based story of two athletics athletes in the 1924 Olympics, runner Eric Liddell explained to his sister why he was postponing his return to the mission field in order to race in the Olympics. “Because when I run, I feel the pleasure of God.” And I believe that to be true for all people who can understand what their gift is; the moment when you are almost weightless, where it is easy, and you feel invigorated and content. That my friends, is the sweet spot.
For confirmation ask your friends, family, coworkers, subordinates, and parents. I bet your gifts are fairly obvious to them, I also bet that they won’t be complete surprises to you, but maybe for a collection of reasons you have chosen to shelf the notion of your gift. Or maybe you have convinced yourself that good things happen to other people – that this is not really a gift at all. If that rings true for you, you have work to do.
Exercise your gift; either let it happen or actively try your gift out in various moments and then pay attention to how you feel in those moments and also to what kind of endorsement, encouragement or comment is elicited by you merely putting into action the gift you have been granted.
There is so much to learn about the world, life and ourselves that sometimes our gifts get lost in our daily shuffle, where our desire for financial stability trumps our passions, our direction and our gifts. Where we forgo the obvious to us to suit the normal to others.
Your gifts are not meant to be painful or difficult, they are meant to make you unique, they are meant to be used for good, they are meant to be your gift to the greater whole. The best part of my coaching experience is when people start to realize their own personal power and then they learn how to use that power for good.
I am absolutely positive that each and everyone of us has a gift. I am 100% certain that no matter the size or kind of gift you have been given there is an opportunity for you to use it in a very good way. Perhaps part of our life’s adventure is to figure out just how to do that…
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’ – Erma Bombeck