Rise to the Best Challenge Ever
This has been the most challenging season of my life.
I’ve never seen a virus spread like this one. I’ve never seen so many people thrown out of work and forced to stay home (making finding work even harder). And perhaps worst of all, I’ve never seen anything so big it touches everybody I know.
But, here it is.
I feel blessed in the midst of all that’s going on. I’m still working, and doing something new at work. Nobody at home has the virus. And I’ve had to change the way I think about a lot of things (which is great, because I love thinking and do it all the time).
I won’t tell you about all that right now.
The #pandemicwordchallenge is all about narrowing it down to one word. I chose a challenging word. One that forces me to dig deep and evaluate whether I’m really serious about it. It sounds nice and fuzzy when you hear it, but practicing it can be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
And perhaps the most rewarding.
Here’s the word that made work fun again
I read a book last week called It’s Not About You.
It’s a short read, but a powerful one. The one point it makes is one you can’t afford to miss if you want to live your best life.
The author Tom Rath and his grandfather Donald Clifton are the pioneers behind the Strengthsfinder. That instrument changed my life in amazing ways. It gave words to what I do naturally. It describes in detail how others see me. And it gives practical ways to take these raw talents and channel them into strengths. When you operate from strength, you’ve got a much better chance of hitting the ball out of the park every time you step up to the plate.
The key to making the most of your talents and turning them into strengths is in the book’s title —
It’s not about you.
Your talents are for them.
Who are “them”? They’re the people who can benefit from your insights and abilities. They’re the ones whose lives get better when you do what you do best. This sentiment is found in one word that is carrying me through this pandemic:
Giving is why Christmas and birthdays are awesome. You feel good when you make someone’s day with your gift. The recipient feels good because they know someone cares. Then they’ll be motivated to pay it forward by giving to someone else.
Do it for them
Have you ever reached a point where doing what you love feels like work? I’m referring to drudgery, that unengaged position of going through the motions for a paycheck, a string of likes, and maybe a shout out or two.
When drudgery takes over, any reward feels manipulative.
When no tangible reward comes, you’re tempted to give up altogether and do something predictable.
Then your gifts get buried. They’ll wither from disuse. And if you’re not careful, over time you’ll drift so far away your talent dies.
As I thought about my strengths, my work took on new meaning. Strengths aren’t confined to one application. You can use them wherever they fit. So now whenever I sit down to create, post on social media or even do the work I do at my desk every day, I see it as an opportunity to use my gifts.
Then what was drudgery turns into fun.
When we’re kids, everything is an adventure. As we age, our parents, teachers, and authority figures drum the play out of us.
We need you to fit in, be respectable and responsible, and avoid making waves.
I get it. Stress can be overwhelming. But let’s be honest here. Your best moments come from your biggest tests. Will you stretch yourself to see how far you can go?
The people you serve will be better off, and so will you.
So give us all you’ve got.
Give unto others
This week I sent a video to my grandmother.
My grandmother is 102. She lives in assisted living. My aunt, who normally checks in on her and visits, can’t do that right now. The nurses told her she’s doing great. She’s healthy, happy, and well cared for.
My aunt thought it would be great if her family and friend could each send an encouraging message for her to see. I don’t know how many responded, but I knew I couldn’t let that moment pass without participating.
I sent a short video — 26 seconds — telling her we loved her and that she meant a lot to us.
It’s a small gift but I’m sure it will brighten her day.
Reach out to someone who’s older and isolated. Let them know you care. A phone call or message will do. It might mean the difference between life and death for that person.
We all need a reason for living. Knowing people care about us is a powerful motivator. Tell someone they matter today.
Then tell me how it went in the responses below.
Spend where it matters
I’m not going to ask you to donate to charity.
Millions of people are now unemployed. Money is tight and it might be interrupted while you wait for more to come in. The government is doing what it can here, but when your way of life is turned upside down, you can’t help but be nervous, reserved, and afraid.
You’re already spending money on food and supplies. Maybe you purchase services for your home or lifestyle. The money you spend helps keep people employed. If you can spend it locally, do it. It might not save a struggling business, but if enough people do it, they might be able to push harder for a little bit longer.
It might make all the difference in the world.
Spend your money on things that matter to you. It’s a tangible way to join hands to preserve the things you care about.
And if you can afford it, give a few dollars to a cause that’s making a difference.
What will you give?
Now it’s your turn.
How will you see your everyday challenges as a chance to use your gifts?
How will you approach life with your strengths instead of trying to overcome your weaknesses?
How will you give the best of yourself to make the world a better place?
Think about that, and give this challenge your own twist. What’s your pandemic word? What word will you focus on to frame your experience of life right now?
I’d love to see what you come up with.
I hope everyone who reads this finds their own gifts and shares them generously.