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March ‘ 07 ~ Gifts are Meant to be Given

March '07

Last month a participant in one of my seminars made a wonderfully provocative statement after people had uncovered their unique GIFT sets. She told us she had concluded over the years that, “it’s a sin not to offer your gifts to the world.”

Her striking declaration propelled me back to a leadership-training program we ran for student leaders at Wellesley College, where we regularly featured these often-quoted words of Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

Williamson’s words, in turn, sent me back to elementary school, where our teachers cautioned, “don’t hide your light under a bushel!” While I could easily picture a bushel basket and a candle, I didn’t understand what my teachers meant except that it had something to do with speaking up in class.

My difficulty probably stemmed from the fact that it’s hard to see what comes to you naturally. It was always easy for me to speak up in class, whereas my best friend never raised her hand – not once. But outside on a frozen pond, she could skate rings around the other kids our age.

Detecting our own talents is a challenge for most of us, because we tend to focus on what we can’t do, rather than what we can. And to complicate matters further, our innate talents are so natural and automatic for us that it’s bewildering to try to name and claim them.

It’s just easier to see the gifts in others. I, for example, marvel at the way a guy in my yoga class makes me laugh every week and especially appreciate my neighbor’s practice of proposing mini-adventures such as going to the observatory in Providence some night. These folks sure do make my world a better place!

How about you? Wouldn’t you like to learn how to detect your own GIFTS so you can expand your daily quotient of joy and add to the joy of others? And conversely, why not tune your radar to the unique talents of the folks around you – kids, friends, or spouse – and take the time to acknowledge them for the wonderful gifts they share with you each day.

For, as we know, gifts are meant to be both given and received!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Bonnie Leonard EdD

Certified Life Coach