A little while ago I read this book about quitting. It wasn’t advocating quitting everything in life – but just a new and fresh perspective on the things it was okay to quit, the things we should have never started in the first place and the things we should persevere with. It talked about how we should be aiming to be the “best” at whatever it is we are doing. Back when you went to school, your parents used to scold you if you got an A in sport, but got C’s in everything else yet would praise you if you got B’s in everything. In school we are taught to celebrate being well rounded but in terms of success in the real world – you need to be stellar at one particular thing to succeed. At least to succeed in your career.
While I believe that’s probably the case for business or if you want to make money out of your talents – the above concept is something that has the power to destroy people like me and maybe people like you.
I know that I have a tendency to look at people with obvious skills and want their life. Their future seems to be all written out for them and all they have to do is pursue their dreams. Don’t get me wrong – I actually know it’s not that easy to be super talented in one specific area and I would write about that if I could, but I can’t. All I know is how it feels to be average at a lot of things and to feel a little bit stuck because of it. All I know is how it feels to want to pursue your dreams – if you only knew what they were. I often sit and think to myself ‘is there a job that could somehow encompass all the random things I am good at?’
I’m jealous of people with set, obvious, amazing skills. If I could take brilliant photos, of course I’d be a photographer. If I could create projects out of nothing, that’s what I would do. If I could melt hearts with my voice or construct beautiful lyrics – then I would definitely do that.
What I’d really like is a craft. Something that I can work on. Something that I can be known for. “Oh Steff, she’s that girl who is really great at <insert specific skill here>”. “I know, I’ll ask Steff to do this – she <insert specific skill here>’s like no other”.
While I actually think it’s really important to know your gifts and your strengths and to develop them – the above, is probably really unhealthy thinking. How terrible for me to envy and crave a specific skill like that. To desire to be the best at something for the sake of being the best. To be well known for something. SOMETHING.
I think therein, lies one of the biggest flaws of us humans. We want to be known for things. For skills. For measurable things. Heck, we just want to be known. We want followers and friends on social media. We want people to notice and miss us when we weren’t at an event. We want to be noticed. We want to be missed. We want to come up in conversation when people mention graphic design or baking or flute playing or rapping (I’m the last one). We want to be that guy. We want to be that girl. We want to be known for things.
I would much prefer, or at least I want to be someone who would much prefer – to be well known for who I am. ‘Steff – oh she’s that girl who gives of her time and finances extravagantly’. ‘Steff is so great with people, I know she cares so much for them’. ‘Steff has a heart for the Father’.
We spend so much time developing our outer skills and not our inner skills. One of my friends who is a primary school teacher was sharing how she just wants to teach her kids to be better people. ‘I don’t’ care if they are good at Math’s or good at English and I dont’ really care about their grades. I want them to do their homework because that teaches them responsibility. I want them to be kind. I want them to respect their elders’. She wants to teach them inner skills, not outer skills.
I won’t ever be a photographer or a singer or a builder/architect/dancer/artist/maths guru etc. But I can be better at loving people. I can be a better listener. I can be better at saying yes to the right things and better at saying no to the wrong things. I can learn how to be more patient. I can develop my thought life. I can attempt to live a selfless life.
Those are skills to be known for.