How does it feel for you to say to yourself, “I am amazing.” Does it sound egotistical or inappropriate? It’s not that you’re more valuable than anyone else, but there really isn’t another one of you on the planet. I believe there are a unique gifting and purpose that is yours alone to live and contribute to the world. If it seems awkward or uncomfortable to acknowledge your gifts and worth, chances are you are caught up in what you believe others are expecting of you: something I often see at the root of the problem when people come to me for depression therapy.
Virginia Williams once told her husband, race car team owner Frank, not to hire a particular prospective driver. The driver was staying with them in their home when she noticed a character flaw: he made his own bed. Virginia told her husband, “Winners don’t make their bed,” but Frank hired the driver anyhow. Turns out she was right and this driver never amounted to championship material. It’s not to say that the top drivers are slobs, but Virginia noticed that the best drivers are the ones who are able to focus solely on what they know they do the best, and trust the others to do the rest. Sure the race car driver could get out of the car during a pit stop to help change the tires on the car, but then the race will be lost.
In the business book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins confirms something similar in finding what changed “good” businesses into “great” ones. A big part was determining what the company was the very best at, then focusing only on that goal. The second crucial piece was having employees working on the type of task in which they were gifted. People using their specific skill sets to accomplish the companies specific goal with a single-minded focus and drive.
To the degree there is uncertainty about who you are or doubt about whether others will do their own part, your full potential will be missed and there will often be struggles with depression or anxiety. This isn’t just about sports or business. This is also true for relationships. As a psychologist in Orange County, I find that to the degree my clients are uncertain about themselves, they are going to hold back, get distracted and shift focus to what they believe others expect of them with work or personal relationships. This can be codependency. The humorous definition of codependency goes something like this: You know you’re a co-dependent if, as your car skids over the cliff and as you plummet to your certain death, the life that flashes before your eyes belongs to someone else. In a manner of speaking, if you’re living your live based upon the expectations of others, I might suggest that you actually ARE already dead. Not physically, or course, but the YOU that is you is dead, which makes your existence here without it’s real and better purpose: being you. This is where depression therapy can help in resuscitating the real you and bringing YOU back into life.
Now, just so you’re clear, I’m not talking about serving your own dreams and needs to the exclusion of others. I’m talking about “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Note that middle word “as.” Not more than, not less than, but with the same value. Using who you are and what you’re great at to benefit yourself AND others. This is then going to allow them to have room to do the same for themselves and your going to benefit from their talents and gifts as they are being used. A win-win situation, right?
So, what about you is amazing? Sure, you can do many things and have a lot of interests, but what are the very best parts of who you are? If you’re not sure how to answer that question, notice what you find yourself gravitating toward. Look at the kind of things you have always enjoyed doing and pay attention to what it is that gets you excited. Look beyond the tasks to what it is about the tasks that you enjoy. For example, you may enjoy setting up the birthday parties at work, having a friend visit at your house for the week, and hosting family holiday events. Chances are there is a gifting of hospitality under all those activities. Or maybe it’s the decorating part of those events that thrills you and you have a talent for design.
So if you’re looking to have a “winning” life and relationships, it’s going to go better for you as you become more clear about who you are and less focused on pleasing and appeasing others. There are books that can help sort out your talents and abilities, like “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry, or “Strengths Finder” by Tom Rath. Of course, an Orange County psychologist can also be a very effective partner in helping you listen to and discover the winner within yourself. I’m looking forward to seeing you in the “winner’s circle” of life: there’s enough room in here for all of us.