Does a zebra know its unique contribution to all of us with its beautiful, one-of-a-kind pattern? Doubtful. The zebra probably doesn’t even think about his impact on the rest of us. Most of us are so immersed in our own areas of special interest and ability that we do not see the contribution we make to the world and those we interact with.
I had some conversations recently that brought this home to me. A woman in my professional network was having some life-draining relationship woes and asked for ideas. As we talked, a solution emerged for her that felt obvious and simple to me, because of the work I do with clients, but was deeply impactful for her and her primary relationship.
Another friend and colleague was part of a work team where he doubted he was bringing much to the table in terms of value. I know this person to be kind, insightful, and consistently holding space for bigger possibilities—one of the most caring people you can imagine.
Sometimes we are not in a position to see how powerful our strengths and influence are; we are simply too close. I invite us all to get better at owning our strengths and the contributions they bring. Why? Because as we do, we carry an inner confidence and awareness that is a benefit to those we serve and to us.
I love this video clip from Derek Sivers that illustrates my point: https://youtu.be/xcmI5SSQLmE
Imagine a world-class athlete or performer that didn’t truly recognize their own talent. We might look at someone like that and think, “What a waste.” Yet many of us have amazing gifts and talents that we take for granted because they are so familiar we see nothing special about them. The truth is, according to Gallup, only one in 33 million has the same top five strengths, in the same order as we do. And no one has the same experiences and perceptions that go along with those strengths. Part of what we bring, we get paid for. I believe a lot of what we contribute to the world is priceless.
What value could we put on those individuals who embody peace and radiate that out to families, colleagues and other nations? Some people are naturally warm and exuberant and make every gathering lively and fun. Some are great at rallying others behind a movement or idea, and some are amazing at getting things done. One of my own colleagues brings such a different perspective to every team meeting, I leave those meetings enlarged and curious and seeing the world a bit differently
Perhaps you are a foster parent or a volunteer who keeps a mile of the highway near your home trash-free. Maybe you provide transportation to the elderly or raise funds for a charity that you believe in. As you think about all the contributions you make to your world and those in it, carry that awareness of contribution within your heart. You matter. Each of us radiates to everyone else in ways that cannot be measured a tremendous value. Own it, bask in it. Allow yourself to claim the contributions you make to the whole, because we are so good at knowing when we miss the mark, this is an act of balance. While you are at it, think about those you interact with and marvel at what they bring—both the seen and unseen gifts they share with the rest of us.
Our worth and value must be at least as clear to each of us as our mistakes are.