Most of us spend years accumulating the knowledge that we can share with other people. We attend universities, apprentice, study, experience life, and follow our interests and passions, to gather what we know. Really fortunate people make a living sharing their body of wisdom with other people. When you take the teachings and knowledge of others you have accumulated add in your life experiences, and present your own footprint, working flows easily.
Creating this unique footprint is not an easy thing to do. Many systems are in place to encourage you to duplicate what the masters have taught and duplication is not a bad thing. After all, it copies something that is proven to succeed. But it is a creation that was customized to fit another person. Everyone else will feel the extra striving and effort that goes in to trying to duplicate instead to of letting things flow. You are the only one that can bring YOU to the world. What you offer is unique. So copy someone else, or create you. It’s a choice. Developing your own footprint takes knowing yourself, knowing what you know, and creatively combining the two to define what you have to offer and how it will be presented.
I’m working on that 3 step process. I love some of the discoveries I’ve made from challenging myself to do this deliberately.
First of all – discovering yourself. Wow. For someone (me) who has practically made a life’s work out of meeting other people’s needs and being what they needed me to be this one is not obvious. It’s been a journey and will continue to be as I understand what makes me react, what I like, what my talents truly are. I have made a lot of progress with it. It’s a never ending book I can keep going back to.
Knowing what you know. Well, that one takes a little thought to understand how complex it is. We all know lots of things and have an internal measure of how adept we are with them. Is it a cursory understanding? Is it mastery? Somewhere in between? I discovered that internal barometer can be so skewed! Once I understood there are “types” of people with differing perceptual styles, and within those types, differing talents and preferences, I understood another way that my reality and someone else’s might differ. One of my epiphanies: “You mean EVERYONE doesn’t love research? and they’d actually PAY for me to package up that information for them in a useable form?” So, what I thought of as effortless, free, and commonplace was one of my assets. I can put that in the list of what I KNOW. I also had to accept what Anat Baniel once said to me – “You can’t act like you don’t know this (ABM work) Andrea”. I deliberately sought the knowledge she taught, became very skilled at it, and needed to present myself that way to other people, not be plagued with not knowing enough. I needed to own what I knew.
Now comes the creatively combining part. I love my work. I feel so fortunate to be able to offer what I know and help others, especially children with special needs. I’m realizing that I have a unique combination of knowledge to offer (see paragraph one — I have to keep reminding myself). I can make a deliberate decision to add all of me into what I do. I can’t tell you exactly what that will look like yet but I’m working on it. I’ve discovered that writing articles for public reading is part of my footprint.
Since my dad passed away I’ve often thought of all the skills he had and wondered if he was happy with how he used them during his life. I had a sense of lost opportunities because he built all that knowledge and so many skills and now he is gone. Did he wish to do more with his woodworking? Tie more flies? Organize more events? Arbitrate more groups? He was a very renaissance man and could have directed himself many many ways. Now I see that the direction was his choice. He didn’t leave parts of himself behind when choosing one path over another. He brought all his skills along to create what he offered the world. He had a big impact on a lot of individual people. There were not lost opportunities, there was his choice.
We can choose to direct our talents in unique ways to make our contribution. I am in awe of the people who do this effortlessly and I am dedicated to learning how. Can you imagine the richness if every person does this instead of leaving little valuable pieces out so they duplicate someone else perfectly?
“Your unique gifts fuel your passion and bring you to the place where you can truly make a difference. All too often, we minimize our gifts, believing that no one values them. Or we imagine that because our gifts come easily to us, everyone can do what we can.And then we go about making our lives difficult, in order to achieve something ‘worthwhile’ — which only means, of course, that we have to struggle to attain it.
Your gifts are your strengths… the world can’t do without them! How you combine them with your unique life story and offer the world something it can’t get from anyone else — this is the basis of your legacy!
What gifts do you bring to your family, your friends, your clients, yourself? What do you make people grateful for, without even realizing you’re doing it? Take a few minutes and start making a list.”
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And finally – Guess What? This is not just about making an income. It’s about making a living – and about living your life. As Allison said to me – “You are not two people – your personal life Andrea and your work life Andrea. It’s all you.” What a great life I have to have these options and opportunities.