“The best thing you have to offer the world is yourself. You don’t have to copy anyone else. If you do, you’re second best. To achieve success is to be first, and that’s being yourself.”
— John Denver
Because of the unique challenges of being a teacher, at the beginning of one school year, the administration invited the staff to connect back to our personal mission: our “why.” They asked us a thought-provoking question to get us started: Why do we get up in the morning? We each wrote our personal “why” on a notecard that was tacked to a bulletin board near the main office. Every time we walked to our mailboxes, we were reminded of them.
Finding your “why” is essentially understanding your core values and mission to complete a difficult task, connect with your job, or overcome a circumstance. Showing up in any situation with a “why” will allow you to be successful in giving the world what you have to offer. I challenge you to create your own “why” to narrow down what strengthens you and clear out the shiny objects distracting you. To start, consider three personal areas: natural talent, passion, and skills.
Natural talent is the one or two abilities you have always been good at. This may relate to what you have studied in school, a hobby, or if you are fortunate, your career. Identify it and write it down. Be honest with yourself if your talent is buried somewhere deep inside you not being used. Now is your chance to dig it up, dust it off, and find a way to use it for yourself and for others.
Passion goes beyond love; it drives you and helps you understand your life purpose. Take some time, whether in one sitting or over a few days, to really pinpoint what type of experience makes you excited, allows you to stretch your creativity, or gives you intrinsic motivation to get a particular project done. Through these reactions, you will find your passion.
Depending on the person, this area might be the easiest to answer. List out your soft and hard skills. Soft skills are your personal characteristics, and hard skills come from the knowledge you’ve gained through training and life experiences. Indeed has a great article describing each of these types of skills with examples to help you brainstorm.
Natural talent + passion + skills = your “why.” I like this kind of math! Now you can start writing out your “why” by combining these three areas into a succinct statement. Your personal mission statement should answer this question: Why do you get up in the morning? In other words, what motivates you each day? It’s okay if your statement is wordy at first. Revise it until it feels authentic and gets your message across.
You have always had something to offer the world, but now you can feel confident in being yourself and more intentional in using your talents, passions, and skills in all areas of your life when understanding your “why.”
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