I was a curious child. My mom had me explore the Larousse Encyclopedia before I started my elementary school. I have no idea if the reason behind it was her personal love of reading and ambition or the fact that I showed signs of interest. Regardless, when I sat in my first grade, while other kids around me were following the words with their fingers and stuttering, I was already a fluent reader.
My summer vacations were a huge part of my childhood. I was blessed with the privilege of summer vacations in a family home built by my grandparents. Even during those months filled with play an vitamin “sea”, my mom would religiously replenish my book pile every Friday so that I could continue to read and learn.
It is easy to think that some people are born gifted. I was told that I was smart and talented too many times to count. I don’t want to discredit it here: I think I was. But for as long as I thought that my success in life came from my lucky gene, I was paralyzed and arrogant. I expected to be noticed and discovered rather than powerfully taking steps to succeed and explore. Working hard and putting in an effort seemed embarrassing and as an antithesis to my inate ability. On another hand, I was never acknowledged for the times when I did put in the work. The credit went to God, or my nature – not my efforts.
I had a quick text exchange with my 6-year-old’s school teacher this morning after she sent out a message to parents that most of the kids failed the spelling test and had their homework incomplete today. I knew my Adrian was not among those kids as both my husband and I hold ourselves accountable that his work is done and that he goes to school prepared. We do this because our son thrives on being prepared and doing the work allows him the confidence to embrace school as an opportunity and not a chore. While he is definitely a smart kid, I make sure I praise his effort and not his “gene.” For as long as he knows he put in his best effort, he can embrace both failure and success, even if he prefers the latter.
What I know to be true is that successful people are those who put in the effort not the whiners who sit on sidelines and complain that life is unfair or wait to cash in their gift without moving an inch. How crippling it must be to have a gift and try to milk it while consistently witnessing failures because you don’t put in the effort that is necessary to nurture and share them with others? We all come with unique gifts. However, nobody succeeds without effort,
It helped me a great deal when my Family Constellation mentor Suzi Tucker shared with me that my gifts don’t come from me, but through me and that gifts that are unexpressed can become burdens. This allowed me to shift the context and look deeper into what was unique to me with responsibility to put in the effort necessary to nurture, grow and share it with the world, with people that wanted what I had. Suddenly, I stopped feeling overwhelmed by them but organized myself to humbly do the work to embrace and expand what I was born with, giving me sense of purpose and North Star when I open my eyes in the morning.
This allowed me to put my ego aside, to clearly see what was on or off my path, to let my fears dissipate and stand my ground unbothered.
What are your unique gifts and how do you honor them with effort?