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The SeamLess Life

Issue #6 July 20, 1998

Discover Your Gifts and Grow Them

"Have the daring to accept yourself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the game of making the most of your best."
Henry Emerson Fosdick

At some point in the path to The Seamless Life™ approach, you may find yourself sounding like one of our clients, who had this to say: "I'm tired of reading books that keep telling me to focus on my weaknesses and make them better."

Another client reported, "I'm tired of going to trainings to find the perfect ways to sell and manage. I'm tired of doing things in just the way someone else created them. What's wrong with who I am?"

He's asking exactly the right question. The answer is, "there's nothing wrong with you" - except that you believe that in order to be successful, you need to suffer, to get rid of your weaknesses. Henry Fosdick was right. But most of us haven't learned to see ourselves as "a bundle of possibilities." So, we don't build our work lives around making the most of our best.

Most of us grow up being taught that success is about suffering. About becoming something other than who we are now. We were taught that success requires sacrifice. We look around and see our friends, mentors and parents working long hours and driving themselves to achieve. We learn that success is about motivating and pushing ourselves to do the things we don't want to do in order to get the results we think we want.

The truth is that success has nothing to do with suffering. Especially the suffering that comes when you focus on your weaknesses. Instead, it has everything to do with focusing on what's brilliant about you, on what you shine at doing. Success is about tuning into your true gifts and becoming masterful in them. We never had a client who created The Seamless LIfe™ through focusing on their weaknesses. Never.

Stars like Michael Jordan are a good example: Michael is a star because he's mastered the game he was innately gifted at playing. He honed in on his strengths and became even better at what he already did well. As he focused on his strengths, his weaknesses disappeared of their own accord.

So, what do you do?

Discover your TRUE GIFTS,
those things at which you are brilliant:

What in your life are you brilliant at? What do you really "shine" at doing? It may be how you connect with other people. Your intuitive gifts. Your innate analytical powers. Your leadership in difficult situations. Your influence skills. Your creativity.

You probably already have a good idea about what your true gifts are. It's critical that you are absolutely clear about what these gifts are. So, if you're not sure, here are 3 ways to go about finding out:

  1. Mine your history for your gifts.

    Take 15 minutes, sit down and brainstorm a list of what you naturally excel at. Take out a piece of paper and number down the left hand column, starting with "10" and numbering up to the age you are now. Go back to the time when you were 10 years old. Write down the 3 gifts you had then on the line next to "10." Then, for each year between 10 and your current age, write down the 1, 2, or 3 gifts you used in that year.

    Now, go back and circle the words that keep recurring. Find the 3-5 "gifts" that you consistently used throughout these years. Go back again and put an asterisk (*) next to the top three gifts that you also most love to use. The ones that energize and inspire you as you use them.

  2. Ask your friends and colleagues

    Set up appointments with 3 close friends or colleagues. Ask each of them, "What do you think are my best gifts, the things I have that are my real assets?" Ask about the opportunities they see for you to use your gifts. Yeah, we know it takes courage to ask. Risk being embarrassed. The results are worth it.

    You'll uncover new insight into yourself. Only then can you design a life around your gifts. As they tell you, just listen. Don't interrupt. No questions, except to clarify. Your job here is just to listen and to take notes.

    Compare what your friends describe as your brilliance with the list you created in step-1. Add to your list.

  3. Work with our card list.

    We have a list we can fax or e-mail to you which lists more than 200 gifts you may have. We'd be glad to send you a copy (free of charge, of course). Fax your request to Diane at (513)474-0147 and we'll send you a list.

    You use the list by sorting through a set of "cards," each of which contains a cluster of skills which may be the clues to your gifts. You'll circle the gifts you think may be yours. Then, you'll whittle your list down to 5 real sources of greatness you have.

    Then, compare them with the results from steps 1 and 2, above. You'll probably have a very clear sense of the abiding gifts you have that are those to build your work around.

Refocus your work time around your gifts:

Once you determine what it is that your gifts are, then the real adventure begins. You'll be able refocus your life-and particularly your work-- around what's great about you.

  1. Look at how you spend your time.

    Is 90 percent of your time focused on what you do really, really well? If it's not, then you're not maximizing your success and satisfaction. You have a bigger risk of burning out or getting bored with what you are doing when you are working most of the time outside of what your true gifts are.

    Take a good hard look at all the stuff you spend time on and figure out a way (through technology, other people, saying no) to do what you do best the majority of the time. You'll find your results - and your income - will immediately rise.

  2. Delegate everything but your gifts.

    If you're an entrepreneur, this is critical. Rather than forcing yourself to be good at accounting, hire someone to handle your bookkeeping. Not organized? Find someone to keep your life in order. Increase the time you have to be creative, to build relationships with customers-to use your gifts. Pay other people to do what you are not good at, so you can focus on using your gifts. (Be wise about this, of course: if you don't find it easy to be a good spouse, this is not something to delegate!)

  3. Focus on Mastery.

    What will help you take your gifts to the next level, to become the best at your game? Be like Michael Jordan--look for and stretch the edges of your game. Right now, list at least 10 things you can do that will allow you to grow your gifts. Then schedule time this week to do at least five of them.

To get a free copy of our Gifts List, email

Join us next week for another installment of
Tips in Leading the Seamless Life™
where we'll discuss a "seemless life" vs the "SeamLess Life™"

Come back August 3 for Issue # 7 in this bi-weekly series!

Do you have any questions about this article? Need advice on your life? E-mail us! Diane can be reached at, and Sherry can be reached at

Diane and Sherry's book, Discovering Your Best Self Through the Art of Coaching, can be ordered at

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Text © Diane Menendez & Sherry Lowry, 1998, 1999. Part of the original Sideroad.
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