There are numerous instances where I hear the encouragement from people I respect to be a regular reader of books. “Readers are leaders.” “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” These are just two of the quotes that underscore the importance of reading for personal development. I struggle with this because I don’t have a significant amount of time to read. The rigors of my profession require hundreds of hours of study in preparation to pass professional exams. Nevertheless, knowing the importance of reading, I press on to read when I can.
Recently, I happened upon The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Thanks to several people I follow on Twitter, I received notice of a sale on the kindle e-book at Amazon. I am not sure exactly what prompted me to buy it at that moment, but it was on sale so I jumped on it. Wow! I am so glad I did! This book challenged me and helped me to see that the path I am on is part of a bigger journey. The journey is not something to despise. It will go on until I die. There is no way for me to communicate all that I learned in this one post, but I can touch on one quote from the book that impacted me.
Mr. Goins relates the story of a couple who moved to Burundi to help people by developing a coffee distribution system. At one point during his interview of the couple, Mr. Goins suggests that they moved due to some great calling they felt. They quickly corrected him and said, “We were hoping that the impact we would make was a positive one but we didn’t and don’t believe that we are called to do something greater than anyone else is. We believed we were called to bring our skills to the table of life, to look for opportunities where we could contribute in the world.”
There is a tremendous amount of inspiration in this quote for me. I am especially impacted by their belief that they “bring (their) skills to the table of life.” I love that phrase! It invokes a strong mental picture and causes me to want to take action! As I have pondered this idea over the past several months, I recognize several imperatives implicit in the process of bringing skills to the table of life:
- Recognize we have skills to bring to the table. This is absolutely the first step. A lowly opinion of ourselves can cause fear and hinder forward movement. All people have value that can make a significant contribution to those around them.
- Identify the skills. This fits hand-in-hand with the first point above. If we do not know what skills we have, we will not be able to leverage those skills to make a difference. There are all kinds of tests out there that can help us learn about ourselves. Examples included StrengthsFinder, Meyers-Briggs, DISC, Kolbe A, and the Kendall Life Languages Profile. Use one or more of them to begin the process.
- Invest time in growing. Once we have identified the skills that will allow us to make a difference, we can invest in ourselves to grow. This is where reading books can be helpful. There are a myriad of personal-development books either available for purchase or at your local library. Skills can also be improved through online courses and local hands-on workshops.
- Take a risk. Inevitably, trying something new will require a step into the unknown. This step can take on many forms. Examples include: selling a new product, writing a blog, starting a business, or making a career change. In these situations it is best to avoid risking everything but try and make the “leap of faith” be more of a step. Do this by determining some small incremental steps that can take you in the direction you want to go without taking on all the risk at once.
If you are alive, you have skills to leverage to improve the world around you. Discovering what those skills are and how to employ them is a process. I have started that process. Have you? My encouragement is to get going if you have not and to keep going if you have!
Question: What skills are you bringing to the table? It would be a pleasure to hear from you on this subject. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Sign up for updates and never miss a weekly post!