Image of Arthur Ashe quote via BrainyQuote
Today I was inspired by an audio lecture, "Defining One's Role In Life," by Rabbi Akiva Tatz.
Essentially Tatz offers a simple methodology for managing the classic dilemma, "What am I supposed to do with my life?
"What is my personal brand?"
Ask any college student or midlifer in transition. What should be a wonderful journey of exploration can quickly start to feel like a miserable muddle. On the one side options and ambitions, on the other pressures and constraints.
A lot is riding on how you define yourself.
- Success brings connection to your life's work, a sense of meaning and general fulfillment.
- Failure costs time, money, disruption, frustration, not to mention fractured relationships.
So here's the thing that's new.
Most self-help advice opines that you can constantly and eternally change I'm the hope of "finding yourself."
Yet continually starting from scratch is exhausting and unnecessary.
Using Tatz's method, you divide your quest into two phases:
- Maximizing your potential
In practice this means completing a simple but extraordinarily agonizing exercise:
Part I. Draw It
Normally we know our natural gifts by the time we reach adulthood. But knowing yourself is hard. You might need the help of a friend who really knows you.
- Ink a circle
- Inside the circle write down your skills
- Outside the circle wrote down your weaknesses
- Keep going even when you feel like you are wasting your time or humiliated
- Stop when you feel the a-ha -- a strong sense of "personal recognition."
Part II. Stick To It
Tatz compares your natural skills and abilities to a toolbox. He explains that you need to know what tools you were born with. That way you can accomplish a very specific role in this world. Therefore:
Don't do anything outside the circle. Maximize everything inside it -- find ways to use those skills.
When you truly know your abilities it is impossible to be jealous of others, he says, and I think this is true. You also have no motivation to chase the wrong path.
(The alternative is starting from scratch over and over, which many people do as part of "personal reinvention.")
All of this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which tells you to be something you are not in order to succeed.
But being yourself is better. While people can theoretically adapt to changing circumstances, at the end of the day we also are who we are.
A person thrives -- at work and at home -- when they are simply allowed to be themselves.
* All opinions my own.