The best way to ride a horse is in the direction it's going in.

In yesterday’s NFTM #13, I asked you a common question that I’ve struggled with in my life, “What are you REALLY good at?” Or, what are your natural talents? How do we make them better? Let’s dig deeper today and try to come up with a guide that can provide us with clarity on this question that seems to come up often and always.

Excellence as a philosophy: Our Competitive Edge

Before we get onto the guide for this, let’s first talk about something important. One thing that I believe you have is to drive for excellence in your life. I do; I want to be an excellent father, husband, and friend; Second, I want to achieve excellence in all that I do professionally, I want to be in the top 10% of whatever I’m doing for my work.

The last point I want to make is that very few of us are striving for excellence in our fields. Some studies say that 80% of us are just getting by, doing the minimum, and just rolling along in life. That gives us a huge opportunity–by simply committing to excellence in your life’s work, you already have an advantage.

8 Ways to Find Your Unique Talents and Abilities

The goal here is to identify one or two things about us that we are uniquely good at or have a natural talent for; once we find that thing about us, then we can go to work honing and sharpening that skill or talent.

Let’s start with a quote from the great Michael Jordan and use it as inspiration for following through on our task to nurture the natural talents in us.

“Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.”

— Michael Jordan

Eight ways to identify your special talents:

  1. You are the best and happiest when you are doing your “thing”. You love doing it. If you could afford to do it for free, without pay, you’d do it in anyway. This activity brings out the best in you. When you are engaged in this work, it gives you tremendous enjoyment and it feels like it is the most rewarding.
  2. You do it well. You have a natural ability to perform in this area–even as a child you might have been given compliments about this ability.
  3. This talent has been responsible for most of your success and happiness in life up to now. Go back and review your successes–you should always be reflecting on your past success when trying to create new success.
  4. This ability has always been easy for you to learn, and easy for you to do. You might have even forgotten how you learned this ability in the first place. It’s because when you first did it, it came so easily you just started to do it and never even thought about it.
  5. It holds your attention like a moth to a flame. It totally absorbs you. You’re fascinated by it. You read things about it, you talk to everyone about it.
  6. You like to learn more about it. You’re always trying to get better at it. Maybe you’ve taken time away from it now, but, quietly you’re always learning about it when you can.
  7. Time stands still when you’re doing it. You’re so engaged when you do this activity, you can work for hours, days, weeks and not even realize how much time you’ve spent on it.
  8. You admire and love other people who are doing what you are most suited to do.

I’ve always had a hard time with this. It’s why I’m writing about it now. What you can never do is get down on yourself about not knowing. In some cases, other people, society, our upbringing, our previous bosses, jobs have all influenced or even told us what we are “worth” or good at. Don’t believe them. This process takes two ingredients. Self-knowledge and change. Once we identify something that we missed, all we have to do is change our habits or something to focus on taking better care of ourselves. We all have busy and sometimes unmanageable lives. The trick is to put your oxygen mask on first, take care of yourself first, respect your career choices, and move forward with resolve to figure it out now and start building excellence into your talents.

Love you guys/gals! Have a great day. Head up, shoulders back–get out there and wrangle this day into submission. We are winning.

Featured Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash