July 19, 2007
Liz published this at 11:45 am
Here’s how it often works. He says. She says.
I say, “Sure you do. You’re just not seeing it.”
If you’re stuck finding out, sorting out, what you love doing, my experience is that what you love doing is so obvious that you can’t believe it is worth counting. Let me tell you about Martha.
Ah Martha, her desk was like it belonged in a magazine. If she wasn’t in her office, folks thought she was out for the day. Everything had its place, and you could bet it was there. Soft-spoken, gracious Martha had a smile that lit up the department of 32 people and thousands of pages she kept track of. Marha was a sea of calm in a world of publishing paper clutter.
For her performance review. I asked Martha to do a self-appraisal. Martha reached outside herself to find many things that she did well and wrote them up in excellent fashion. All of the qualities I described above were missing.
When I asked her about it, she said, “Oh, anyone can do those things.”
I replied, “No, Martha, folks aren’t nearly as organized as you are, nor are they as calm and gracious.” That turned on her room-lighting smile.
I said “You love organizing things and all of us, don’t you?” Her larger smile told the story.
Martha didn’t see what she loved or her most valuable qualities. She discounted them because they were was something that was a natural talent. We tend to discount what comes naturally to us as not as valuable because we didn’t “earn” it. Yet, Martha’s talents were what kept my department working smoothly and without friction. To this day, I miss her.
She didn’t see it because it was obvious and so natural to her.
Yet everyone else knew how valuable her talents were to them.
Look to Your Second Nature
If you don’t know what you love doing, ask those folks who rely on you. Look at what you do as second nature. Think of those defining qualities and the things that you always do and would be nervous or bummed if you could no longer do them. I can’t imagine Martha not being allowed to organize things.
What can you not imagine yourself not being able to do?
Not long ago when talking with the other founders of SOBCon, I said, “I have to be the keeper of the vision.” I explained it in this way, “it’s not ego. It’s not about control or the name of my blog. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at. It’s in my DNA. I can’t NOT do it.”
What’s the thing you can’t NOT do? What’s imprinted on YOUR DNA?
C’mon and say it out loud.
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