I recently finished reading a book by Debbie Ford called The Secret of the Shadow. One of her key points is that every one of us has a “specialty” that is unique. This specialty, she argues, is the contribution that each of us has to offer to the world. I agree. I believe that we are born with particular gifts and talents, which are unique for each of us, and that we can choose to build those into skills and competencies, and through the process of our life’s journey make our contribution.
My experience tells me that most of us have a deep yearning to know and express our specialty and the degree to which we are able to do so, is also the degree to which we find a sense of satisfaction and meaning in our work and lives. Short of that, we will always feel like something is missing or incomplete. It is clear that many people, for many reasons, are working and living in ways that are disconnected from their specialty. This, naturally, has consequences for our work places, communities, families, and of course, for those particular individuals.
The interesting dynamic here is that we don’t have to know or fully express our specialty to be happy. But we do, at least, need to be on the journey to finding what it is and be on the look out for ways to express it. Whether this is through paid or non-paid work, through hobbies and extra-curricular activities, involvement in our communities, our lives take on a fullness when we are moving towards the knowledge and expression of our gifts and talents. And for those who have real fears and barriers about this knowing or expressing, I’d suggest that working through these is their major life work.
I see many clients and people with whom I have more casual contact, who are disconnected from their specialty. They are oblivious, unconscious, in denial, or making choices according to what they “should” be doing. I know that many, if not most of these people, are either mildly unhappy or deeply depressed, even as they appear outwardly successful. They often don’t come to terms with their issues until something major happens to them or they reach a point in their lives when they can no longer bear the pain or burden of being so disconnected from their truth. At that point, change can begin. As I advise all of my clients: Begin now.
MeaningfulCareers.com was created by Mark Guterman and Dan King, two guys with a shared commitment to the power of meaningful work. They help professionals find greater meaning in their careers, lead happier, more satisfying lives, and instill lasting value through their work. For more information and resources visit: http://www.meaningfulcareers.com.