With people walking the Earth claiming to be the “greatest” at everything, it is easy to lose sight of your personal potential for greatness.
When I think of personal greatness, I don’t mean the narcissistic “look at me, look how great I am” of an adult child clamoring for constant approval. A little limelight is good for the soul. Tying your sense of self-worth to the approval of others makes you a slave to their opinions.
Because we are inside looking out, we often don’t see the ways we are capable of impacting the world. Or the ways even our small acts can ripple through the world.
Personal greatness is the combination of talents, passion, and creativity that you bring to the world. It is what you are capable of at your best. Your best is a double edged sword, wielded for good or evil.
Good men learn enough self-awareness to stay more or less on a positive path.
Corey Jahnke (pharmacist, author, and Zen leadership guide) posted a YouTube video the other day by Derek Sivers titled “Obvious to you. Amazing to Others.” (see bottom of post). Thanks to that video, I realized that true self-awareness is not limited to self. Self is only the first level of understanding.
Level 1 – Inward Awareness of Self
True self-awareness begins with being able to separate who you want to be, from who you are right now objectively. You can see your strengths and your weaknesses. The trap is that many of us tend to observe few of our strengths and instead focus on the weaknesses as we imagine them compared to others.
This phenomenon led to the thriving self-help industry where we try to improve those things we perceive as weaknesses. Self-improvement is a good thing in balance, but can lead to unhappiness and inaction when it is practiced excessively.
If you play first violin in the orchestra, you have a way of measuring that particular talent. But many our talents are not quite so obvious, or we may not have fully developed them. What are those things you can do with relative ease but don’t think are special?
Level 2 – Observe the Differences
The second level of self-awareness comes from understanding and embracing the knowledge that other people do not think like you do. We tend to accept this only at a superficial level: people are like me with small differences. This belief leads to a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
It also leads to you underestimating your own talents.
You might think that:
- Anyone can organize information and keep track of tasks but that they just don’t care to try.
- Everyone can read the emotions of other people well and understand their pain.
- Everyone can hold a complex image of a construction project in their head and rotate it in 3D to complete the design.
- Everyone can count music in their heads while simultaneously reading and playing two lines of music on the piano.
You would be wrong.
The differences between you and other people are your talents. Some abilities are learned, and some are inherent to who you are.
Level 3 – Serving Through Your Talents
Once you learn to spot the things you can do, that others can’t or won’t do, you have the basis for a path to your individual success. Sometimes success is a personal thing. Sometimes it is something that allows you generate income.
The key to using your unique combination of talents in your business or work is to look for those opportunities to create value and serve others. Serving others does not imply a servant relationship; it means doing something they value. If you can intersect your own interests and passion into the equation, you have a winner.
If the passion isn’t there, it will be harder to sustain your energy. If you can’t find the hunger, maybe you don’t see your talents as serving anyone. There are three options in this case:
- Change your attitude – find another angle, switch things up, or tweak the role.
- Find an outside motivator – your reason outside of the work. This could be a hobby, or it could be providing for your family.
- Delegate – Maybe you can break up the role to focus more on the pieces that you enjoy.
Maybe what you like to do isn’t really a strength or talent.
Level 4 – Embracing the Talents of Others
The final level of true self-awareness is to know your strengths and what you need from others. Then surround yourself with people where your strengths add to each other. Include not just the obvious skills but the parts you need to support the rest of you like your creativity, spirituality, etc.
You can spend more time on what you are great at when you create a win-win within your support community.
You are not a leech attaching to and using others only to discard then when they are no longer needed. If the others are self-aware, they will also choose you for your talents and value. And that is the final piece.
Fully conscious people want to be around other fully self-aware people. Those are the people who will appreciate you and your talents the most.
This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project.
Image Credit (Modified) – Pixabay