If I asked what your unique gifts and talents are, would you be able to list at least five in 60 seconds?
Here's the thing. Knowing and owning our unique gifts and talents can:
👉 give us insights into our dream career
👉 help us build confidence - when we know what we're good at and what we bring to the table we feel more empowered and sure of ourselves (and other people can feel it!)
👉 we get less caught up in comparison with others and feel inspired vs threatened by them
Think of your natural gifts and talents like a seed of a tree
One of my former coaches shared this brilliant analogy with me (it comes from the teachings of Sigmund Freud): the seed of an oak tree (contained in an acorn) can only grow an oak tree.
It can't grow an olive tree or a coconut tree because it only contains the potential of an oak tree. And if it tries to be an olive tree, it's going to have a really hard time (#bless #denial 😅 ) because it can never be an olive tree.
Both an oak tree and an olive tree are beautiful, they're just different and have different purposes.
Makes total sense, right? So why do we so often insist on being an olive tree when we're actually an oak tree?
It's about leaning into the potential that's already within us vs trying to be something we're not.
If we don't have a singing voice it's going to be harder for us to be professional singers. We can still go for it, but we're going to have to put in much more effort than someone who has that in their "seed".
Our ego may get really attached to becoming a singer, but what if we were to look at what's in our "seed"?
We can still choose to pursue singing, but the invitation here is to be curious: "hmmm, what are my unique gifts and talents? What's easy and enjoyable to me?"
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received
After I finished my MA in Broadcast Journalism in England I came back to Frankfurt, Germany, and did an internship at a local TV station. It was a typical newsroom with lots of running around and last-minute deadlines, and from my view, it was a nice but intense experience.
On my last day, I had a feedback conversation with my boss. He said: "Tajda, I have nothing to complain about - you did everything right. But I noticed that you have to put in more effort than others. I'm not saying you didn't do a good job, I just see so many students and I'm able to tell that this work comes easier to them. I'm sharing this with you because jobs are more enjoyable if we do things that come easy to us and where we don't have to struggle. That's what I want for you. Keep doing this if you feel called, but I think you may be happier doing something that's easy and more enjoyable to you."
That piece of advice has stayed with me since then. I never worked in a newsroom again because if I was honest with myself, it felt much harder than the work I'm doing now. Not to say that my coaching work now isn't challenging because it is, but it doesn't feel like I'm swimming against the current and there's much more alignment with who I am.
An inside-out approach to discovering your dream career
Have you ever found yourself googling "what are my gifts and talents" or "how can I find my dream career"? (it may have even brought you here, in which case hello and welcome 👋 ) Well, that's an outside-in approach. 😂
And there's a time and space for that, but if we start there, we often get overwhelmed by all the information and feel more confused than before.
A much easier and more productive approach is to start from within and narrow down the options before we look for additional information on the outside.
Understanding our values, unique gifts, and talents can often lead us to creating careers that feel meaningful and fulfilling (whether that's being employed or self-employed).
We can use what we find to get clues to how we can best contribute, where we shine AND how we can work professionally in this world in a way that feels easy and aligned.
Once we have some insights, we can start to research how that could be expressed in the outer world: What are our options? What could our dream career look like in a practical way?
This step is just as important as the inner exploration because sometimes we don't know what we don't know (for example, if I don't know that a "leadership and development manager" role or "company x" that shares my values exists, I won't be able to apply for it).
I've shared some powerful tools and questions to start the exploration below.
Coaching tools that help you discover your unique gifts and talents
👉 The Enneagram personality test: understanding the gifts of your personality type is a great starting point (I'll break down the gifts of each type in separate post)
👉 360° feedback: we're often blind to what we're good at / excel at because it comes naturally to us and we're often more focused on what needs to be improved, where we're lacking, what we don't do well etc...
It can be extremely insightful to hear what people close to us see as our gifts and talents, and what we value.
👉 Powerful questions you can ask yourself / journal on:
1️⃣ Skills, gifts, and talents
What do I love doing?
What am I good at? What have I mastered?
What was I really good at in school? (languages, sports...)
What comes easy to me? (writing, drawing, listening to people & empathizing...)
2️⃣ Interests and people I admire
What am I interested in to the point of creating something in that area vs just consuming information? (for example, I'm interested in K-pop, but I don't see myself working for a K-pop company or writing about the topic)
If I could do a research project on any topic I wanted and interview whoever I wanted, what would the project be about and who would I want to interview?
What are some of the people I admire most? (this is positive projections work: what we admire in others are qualities that we have & don't see or that are underdeveloped in us)
If I zoom out, what are they up to in the world? What careers do they have? What was their career path like?
3️⃣ Passions, causes, tasks
What am I passionate about? What touches me? (environmental issues, poverty, healthcare, well-being and happiness, law, creative arts...)
What aspects of my current/previous job(s) do I enjoy most? (visioning, research, creative tasks, operations, managing people...)
We're just looking for clues and insights.... And once we have this information, we can start doing research in the outer world.
Enjoy the process.
I would love to know (and answer very intuitively)... What are some of your gifts and talents? Share in the comments 👇
With all my love & gratitude