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What Are Your Gifts?

Late summer, every year, I get the exciting opportunity to leave work early and take my children to school to meet their new teachers for the coming school year.  It’s usually a bit of a drag, these poor teachers are meeting hundreds of new parents and students all day long and saying the same things over and over…well, I don’t have high expectations because I don’t think it’s fair to do so.  I’m going mostly so I can put a face with the name when I get the inevitable teacher email about my wayward son halfway through the semester.   However, last year, my daughter’s history teacher took me by surprise.  In telling us some of her teaching methods and expectations for the class, she mentioned that she likes to use the students’ natural talents to help them learn.  She then looked straight at my humble and vastly gifted twelve-year-old and asked, “What are your gifts?”

Blank stare.

My poor girl had no answer.  She doesn’t know what her gifts are.  Do you?  Do I?  Do any of us recognize the things that we do with such ease that really are special?  Well, for the record, baby girl is gifted in many areas and I was quick to give her teacher a rambling list, but that’s beside the point.  That moment has stayed in the forefront of my mind all these months and I just can’t seem to get away from the idea of recognizing our own talents.

This represents about an hour of my daughter's day. And she thinks she has no gifts...

If I had to identify my own gift, I would have to say that it’s writing, even though I’m a little uncomfortable with that.  To me, writing is just something that I do and it doesn’t feel like a special talent.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing books or articles, or anything more important than my little blog here.  I’m pretty small potatoes.  My writing is often emails, letters and instructions for coworkers.  It began to dawn on me that I might have a bit of talent when people started asking me to compose emails for them.  What?  This still takes me by surprise when I tell someone to email so-and-so and they say, “Well, what should I say?  How should I say it?”  What? What?

For me, words are my tools.  I can make them work for me and it’s something that comes pretty darn naturally to me.  It has taken me an awfully long time to recognize that not everyone can do this.  Does that make me special?  Heck, I don’t know.  I doubt it.  There are a lot, A LOT, of people who write far better than I could ever hope to do.  But there are also people who take the time out of their days to read the words I write.  So that’s something, I guess.  Still, calling it my gift?  That makes it sound so much bigger and more important than it feels to me.

I think too many people do this to themselves.  We don’t recognize our gifts, and therefore we don’t develop them and reach our potential.  I like to write things.  What if I actually worked hard at it?  Maybe I could do something great.  What if my daughter recognized her gifts now, and had a whole lifetime to feed them and let them grow?  What if we all did that?

When you get right down to it, I think the very nature of our natural talents makes us take them for granted.  Let us all take a few moments today to recognize our specialness.  There’s an easy litmus test – if it’s easy for you, then it’s probably one of your gifts.  Use it and develop it.  It was given to you for a reason.

What are your gifts?  And what are you going to do with them?

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