What do people invite you to do? I don’t mean parties or jumping off cliffs; I mean those slightly bizarre requests that bleed between professional things and personal things.
I get invited to help people understand themselves. Often the requests sound different but the root is the same. “How do I explain what I’m good at and want to do?” “How do I choose between all these options and make sure things align with where I want to go?” “How do I figure out where I want to go?”
The questions come from people younger than me, older than me, sitting in school, teaching at school, starting careers, and finishing careers. I get this question from people who admire my success and, most startling, people who I’ve sought out because I admire their success.
These questions are beautiful and fragile. Every time I’m asked, I feel like I’ve somehow been tricky – fooled them into thinking I’m more than I am. I’ve become very careful with my language, how I express confidence, and what I volunteer. I worry about abusing this thing I’ve been given. There is something I can’t name that calls out to people, allows them to trust me, and suggests I somehow see things inside of them that they haven’t been bold enough to accept but are desperate to embrace.
So, there’s my thing. What’s yours?
And now what?
If we know what it is, what do we do about it? I could spend the rest of my life working with those people I meet … I could even make some kind of consulting/coaching practice out of it. But should I? Just because people invite me to do it – does than mean I ought to?
It is worthwhile, joyful, gratifying, selfless, and lovely. But it leaves me slightly unfulfilled. I feel … a bit hollow while in the midst of it. What does that suggest?
And strategically, is it the best way … the most whole way to use that gift? It might not be below me to be some counselor for the rest of my life, but is it below that knack for seeing brilliance inside of people?
This is nothing like rolling out a string of credentials. I can walk into any room with my Associate of Arts in International Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and Masters of Science in Environmental Economics and people know (or think they know) which categories to pop me into – especially if I tag those certificates with experience in consulting, international policy, and venture investment. But I couldn’t generate enough mustard to walk into the same room and explain what I see in each person around the table … or even just say I’ve been invited, all my life, to do that exact thing and they ought to invite me to do the same.
If we would do as only we can do, what do we do now? How does this get started? How do we rein in our options and tailor our path to do more things in that seemingly bizarre category of gifts/knacks?
I’d love it if you’d wade in. Speak up if you have something to add or even another question to ask. I’d like to see comments from Dave Pollard (he’s working his way through), Hugh MacLeod (he seems to have found his feet), and Chris Corrigan (he’s looking from a totally different angle).