Friday, May 28, 2010

It’s All About You

Optimist’s Perspective

Over the past few years, and especially in the last 12 months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a lot of professionals with varied backgrounds, skill sets and levels, and personality types.  I’ve made some new friends and certainly learned a lot from them.  I hope I’ve also helped them by sharing my knowledge, expertise, perspective, and contacts.

2010.05.28_HumanNetwork Many of us who meet regularly know how rewarding it is to help others.  I believe this wholeheartedly, and I also think we must have something to offer before offering to help.  In fact, we have an obligation to to discover what we can offer.

Many years ago when I was in college, I worked as an inventor’s assistant.  It was one of my more rewarding experiences.  While working for him I learned how to better organize information, write professional letters and emails, and manage my time.  Those were the direct benefits.  I also learned a great deal from observing and speaking with this inventor. 

We had many conversations about creativity, sources of ingenuity, U.S. patent law, religion, our families’ histories, and personal development.  I remember many of these with the same fondness for conversations I’ve had with my father and other intellectuals in the academia and the business world.  In fact, I continue to see him from time to time as we break bread and catch up. 

During one of these meals in the late 1990’s, when I was feeling especially down, I told him about my dissatisfaction with work.  I felt like I had no purpose.  What I did didn’t benefit anyone.  

He listened patiently and told me in order to help the world, I first had to care enough about myself to discover what I had to offer, what some refer to as a person’s “gift.”  I then had to cultivate the skills to be good at that gift.  Only then could I go out in the world and spread my goodwill.  Blindly offering help to others may result in making promises I couldn’t keep.   

Over the years I’ve learned to refine that message.  Though I don’t believe you need total mastery of a gift to be of value, you do need to know what’s that gift.  Even if you wish to focus on skills or resources, you must first posses those skills or resources before you can offer them.

Acquiring what you wish to share may take time or not.  Time shouldn’t be the determining factor for what you want to pursue and offer others.  Your first and foremost goal should be to care enough about yourself to find out what’s your gift.  This process may take a few hours or a few years.  Once you’ve found it, then cultivate it through education and practice, and finally offer it to others.

May be your gift is that you can easily meet, emotionally connect with, and learn about others.  That’s great.  In order for you to be resourceful, you then need to focus on building those relationships, meeting others and learning about them, their passions, wants, desires, then connect them with others of like mind-set or want.  You’ll notice, this still means you have to first focus on yourself by building your ability to get to know people, track and remember details about them, before you can help them connect with others.

What are you waiting for then?  Focus and care for yourself so that you can better the society.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to share your thoughts below.

 

Photo Credits: Sagar Patil