Last week I was shopping for one, final last-minute gift for my son. I had already chosen what I believed to be a thoughtful and perfect gift, but I still felt as though it wasn’t enough — and so I rushed back into the toy store, searching for one last gift that would make me feel like I had fulfilled my goal as the ultimate gift giver. I was in search of the “perfect” gift to give him, but I didn’t stop to consider that perhaps the gift I had already carefully chosen was the perfect gift. In my last-minute rush to prepare for the holiday, I was overthinking it.
I believe that most of do this, in work and in life. We overthink our gifts. I’m not talking about the physical, packaged gifts that we carefully wrap with shiny paper and ribbon. I mean the gifts that are unique to only you, the gifts that make you who you are. So often, we’re too busy looking for the perfect job, building a network or searching for what we believe might be our passion, that we overthink, and overlook, the gifts we have to offer the world.
This sometimes makes us stumble a bit because we tend to think that gifts must be some kind of rare and extraordinary talent — the ability to speak multiple languages fluently, possessing an extraordinary falsetto or an incredible ability to do mental math. But your gifts are not just your talents. A talent has to be practiced and honed. You don’t have to dig to deeply to determine your gifts, because a gift comes naturally to you. This is why we overthink them.
Maybe your gift is bringing people together to build effective teams. Maybe you have a knack for making complex topics easy to understand. Perhaps you effortlessly bring a glass-is-half-full, can-do attitude to everything you do. The key is to put your gifts to work for you. We can do this by recognizing our gifts and then asking ourselves, “How can I contribute them?” When you look at your work from a perspective of giving back and contributing your gifts, it shifts the ground beneath you a bit. It will not only help you identify what differentiates you from everyone else, it will help you establish yourself as someone who brings unique knowledge or talent to the table. Focusing on serving, giving — and ultimately sharing your gifts — is what propels you forward, in work and in life.
As 2018 comes to a close, I hope you’ll set a goal with me for the New Year to stop overthinking it. This is the year to recognize your gifts and contribute them to the world.