Monday, July 29, 2013

Self-Awareness: Invest in Your Talents

I have observed that most people think that everyone is supposed to think like "me", and if you do not think like me, something is wrong with you. We are all different, and we must value our differences. However, most people are not aware of this very fact of life because they are not on the journey toward self-awareness, which is the most important quality of a servant leadership. They are too caught up watching and critiquing other people without paying attention to themselves.
When I began my career at the Pastoral Institute, one of the first things my manager did was introduce me to three of the most important questions I could ever ask myself while on the journey toward self-awareness. The questions were coined by Andy Fleming. I first met Andy when I was an employee with Synovus and Andy facilitated a workshop when I was a participant in the Leadership Institute. He is probably one of the top three people who actually got me to thinking about leaving the financial industry. The questions are:
What are you good at?
What do you enjoy doing?
Where in this world is there a need?
What are you good at? Whenever I pose this question high school seniors or college freshmen, I always make sure to say to them that answer to this question should be legally and morally right. You have a talent that you can potentially do better than anyone in the universe. And what you are good at manifests itself in the talent you have and how that talent is utilized. There is a saying, “Your talent is a gift to you from God. What you do with that talent is your gift back to him." What are your gifts? Have you taken the time to meditate on what you were actually good at? Goethe said, "The person born with the talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it."
What do you enjoy doing? What is it that brings a smile to your face? What is it that gets you out of the bed in the morning? What is it that makes you stay up late because of the ideas that are percolating in your head and driving you to manifest itself in a physical form? The answer to this question is where you should place most of your energy.
Where in this world is there a need? "People take different roads seeking success and fulfillment. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost,” says H. Jackson Browne. Once, I was I talking to a friend of mine. Let’s just say he worked for XYZ Corp. My friend told me that whenever an employee left his division, the other employees would look at that employee shamefully. They could not understand why the person would leave. As time passed, no one in the department would ever mention that person’s name again. It was if he had fallen off the face of the earth.
Each of us has a calling, and it is up to us to accept it. As a banker, I didn’t go anywhere—not even upstairs to help the other bankers. However, once I began working at the Center for Servant Leadership, a division of the Pastoral Institute, I have had the privilege of traveling the country. When you answer the call, and I am a testimony, your gifts will take you many places.

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