This blog was originally published on iteach.net on December 26th, 2020. Shared with permission.
We are all Built for Something
When I was growing up, my parents always pushed us to try new things. I wasn’t really pushed in any specific direction and I was given the freedom to try new cooking techniques in the kitchen, build bike ramps, make forts and once, I created a raft out of large pieces of styrofoam and sheetrock. Yes. Sheetrock, which does happen to dissolve when it gets wet!
Today I’m a very good cook. I’ll own it because it has taken me years to get here. People often tell me that they don’t like to cook for me because I make good food and they fear I will be critical of theirs – which is not the case. I’ll eat anything anytime when someone is cooking for me. Food brings me a lot of joy. However, I believe that many people assume that I didn’t fail a lot when it came to the things I am good at – the opposite is actually true.
I remember one time thinking I could make cinnamon biscuits with Bisquick. I had never tried to make them before and I made them for some friends and they turned out flat and brown and resembled brown blobs – like cow patties. Then there was that time I thought it would be fun to try to fry chicken that had been dipped in honey! Haha. Sugar and grease do not go well together. That chicken hardened and caramelized like rock candy. It made the biggest mess – but along the way I learned what not to do when trying to make sweet honey fried chicken – and I believe knowing what not to do is just as valuable as knowing exactly what to do.
What is Your Passion?
Fast forward to the end of my high school years and when it came time to go to college I had no idea what I wanted to do. My parents, and a number of other people said, “Get a business degree, you can do so much with a business degree!” So I did. Then later I realized I was really good with technology and so I spent nine grand on a computer certification program through SMU. Then later I went on to get a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. My whole life I have been throwing my talents against the wall to see what will stick all the while I had a creative passion to just create. I love making things beautiful, but I had this incorrect mindset that you couldn’t make a good living from being an artist – unless you were extremely gifted, and I knew I was not Banksy, or Michelangelo. So I spent the first 15 years of my career in various jobs that I wasn’t passionate about because they paid the bills. In those positions people often told me that I was creative, but I downplayed my talents telling myself that other people were more suited for those roles that I dreamed of, instead of embracing my passion and giving to the world a part of myself, a part that I was built for that could truly impact the world around me.
Don’t Wait. Just Do it.
A friend of mine recently was offered a new job and he called me three different times to discuss the pros and cons of this new position. There were much more opportunities to grow in that role, but he wasn’t passionate about the job, it was just another position doing the same thing he was already doing. He finally accepted the new job offer, then called me later and said, “I’m not going to take the job after all… at the end of the day, all of this has made me realize that I am not doing what I want to do, I want to teach.” My response to him was, “If you want to teach, then what is your plan to move in that direction?” Of course I told him about iteach and how our certification program is perfect for people who already have degrees, but he was still hesitant because of the unknowns. I informed him that the process of becoming certified to teach has never been easier and that there is a demand for teachers right now, especially in Texas and that he should strike while the iron is hot. However, taking risks is not easy for my friend, so I had to explain to him that risks don’t have to be reckless.
Amy Morin writes in her article from Inc.com... “Instead of thinking about what could be when we take a risk, we focus on “what if?” But risks don’t have to be reckless. And while avoiding all risk might seem like a smart way to manage anxiety, in the long run, playing it small is the perfect recipe for depression.” (Inc.com)
I know too many people who focus on the negative outcomes when it comes to taking risks instead of focusing on the rewards. When it comes to getting what we want, hard work and risk are almost always part of the equation for success – otherwise everyone would have exactly what they wanted and we would all be content! Morin continues from her article… “So rather than spend time trying to decrease your fear about a risk, put your energy into increasing your chances of success.”
Why continue spending 40+ hours of your week doing something that doesn’t make you happy? Our careers are often the thing in our lives that take up most of our time – so why not have a career that brings you happiness instead of earning money and then trying to buy happiness? If you are passionate about what you do, then it is a win/win. You get to make money doing something that already brings you joy – and if you are lucky, you get to do something that brings others joy as well.
Designing Your Life
Watch the video above for some interesting ideas from Bill Burnett, where he discusses how to get what you want out of your life.
Executive director of Stanford’s design program at the d.School, Bill Burnett uses design thinking, a career’s worth of starting companies and coaching students, and a childhood spent drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine to inform his work on how to design your life. In five eyebrow-raising findings, Burnett offers simple but life-changing advice on designing the life you want, whether you are contemplating college or retirement.
Owning Your Gold
Over the years I have taken several personality tests. Myers-Briggs, Strengths Finder, Servants by Design, DISC, and Enneagram. What do those tests really reveal about human beings? We were all created differently and with a set of talents and abilities that are unique to us.
I am part of a life coaching program and one of the exercises that we are taught is to “Own Our Gold.” In this process we are asked to list the things that we are good at, and don’t hold back. Speaking these truths about ourselves to others is much harder than it sounds. I believe in American culture we are taught to be humble and to brag about yourself can be seen as arrogant. So we downplay our strengths and abilities. When someone compliments us, we minimize it instead of just saying “Thank You”.
False Modesty, Arrogance, and Confidence
When I worked at Texas Instruments a special guest speaker Tarek Saab, came to speak to a group of us one afternoon. Tarek had been a contestant on season 5 of The Apprentice. However, he was an employee of Texas Instruments at the time. He talked about false modesty and confidence and the difference between the two. “False modesty is lying”, he said, quite bluntly. He told the story of a friend of his who was an amazing golfer, but when he asked him, “Are you a good golfer.” The friend replied, “I’m just okay.” He later said the man played like Tiger Woods and was an amazing golfer. “Why did you say you weren’t a good golfer?” Tarek asked his friend. The friend replied, “I didn’t want to come across as arrogant.”
Tarek then told us that when you are talented at something, you are allowed to own it, you should, however, give credit to the people who helped you along the way – that is the difference between arrogance, false modesty and humility. Tarek continued to explain that a better response from his friend would have been to say, “Yes, I am very good at golf, but it is because I have spent hours practicing and my parents lived on a golf course growing up.” In my life-coaching class, we were taught to just say, “Yes, I am good at…. ” and own it fully. We are taught to own our talents and abilities and then use them to impact the world around you.
The World Needs What You Have to Offer
So what are your talents and abilities? What are you passionate about? Do you like watching student’s faces light up when they learn something new? Do you enjoy impacting the world around you? What makes you excited to get out of bed each day? Whatever it is, don’t downplay it, you were built for something and the world needs what you have to offer.
In an article from InsideHigherEd.com the author gives this advice about talking about yourself as an individual. When it comes to hiring, businesses are hiring an individual, not a group of people…
So next time you are in a situation, such as an interview, consider the following:
Use I, not we, to describe what you have done. When you use we, the actual contribution you yourself made is not clear.
- Speak openly about your accomplishments and the role you played.
- Describe how you collaborated with others in your lab. Use we to set the stage and describe your goals (e.g., “Our team was charged with …”), but then describe your role (e.g., “I initiated the …” or “I oversaw …”)
- Be specific, and backup your answers with concrete examples of what you accomplished and the impact it made.
- Explain how the work you did relates to the job you’re seeking
The article continues with this great advice:
Build your confidence. You need to believe in yourself before you can convince others.
- Get excited about where you see yourself going and what you hope to do.
- Support yourself. Practice positive self-talk to replace the voice of that inner critic.
- Surround yourself with support. Find people who make you feel good about yourself and appreciate what you do.
Recognize and be proud of your strengths and accomplishments. Understand the value of your skills and realize how lucky the company would be to have you. You aren’t bragging.
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If you are passionate about impacting the world around you there are few places where you can influence the future as much as a teacher. Teachers have the ability to build students up and set them on a positive course that can have a ripple effect for future generations.
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