What Makes Me So Special?

Moving Past Imposter Syndrome and into Your Genius Zone

July 2019

Picasso is quoted as having said, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

And while some in our increasingly entrepreneurial and business-savvy society may debate the merit of ‘giving’ it away, my interpretation is that we find the deepest fulfilment in seeking out opportunities that allow us to apply the abilities that come most naturally to us.

Simply put: figure out what you are both good at AND enjoy doing - and go do it!

One of the biggest shifts in our evolving workplaces and communities has been about seeking meaning and purpose in the work we do, which has a deep impact on both productivity and engagement.

But many of us struggle to find those gifts and passions, and find ourselves feeling unfulfilled and asking “What makes me so special?”. I know I did.

There was a time I found myself comparing myself to others, feeling humbled, and wondering what qualified me to be part of the group of overachievers I had somehow managed to become a part of.

Adding to the inferiority complex/imposter syndrome is the unconscious bias many of us have in believing that everyone else has ALL of the talent we have, PLUS all of the talent we see in them.

Inherently, human beings want to create value and to be valued. It’s even more ideal if our contributions uplift us and make us feel like we’ve tapped into our own talents.

The best part is - everyone has talent! In fact, your whole life is an expression of your talents. Think of talents as your innate ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving - your natural tendencies that guide your thoughts and actions in productive ways.

When you combine those natural talents with skills (the ability to move through the fundamental steps of a specified task*), and knowledge (information needed to complete a task resulting from formal or informal education*), you end up with a strength.

Talent x Skills + Knowledge = Strength

And ‘strength’ is the ability to consistently produce a nearly perfect positive outcome in a specific task*. Those strengths – or mature talents - can be magical, like a superpower. They can show up as social prowess, efficient problem solving, ability to identify trends in data, or a host of other traits.

It’s easy to take your talents for granted, maybe mistaking them for personality quirks. Often, some of our greatest realizations of talent come from others seeing that something special in us.

Here are some questions to help you reflect on ‘what makes you so special’ and reveal keys to your own unique abilities, Gallup’s 5 Clues to Talent:

1. Yearning – Like a magnet, you’ve been attracted to certain activities or environments over the course of your life, time and again. Perhaps you’ve witnessed someone doing something and wanted to try it yourself.
Ask yourself: What kinds of activities have I been naturally drawn to?

2. Rapid Learning – A telltale clue to talent is the ability to anticipate the steps of a task, quickly acquire a new skill, or swiftly gain new knowledge.
Ask yourself: What kinds of activities do I seem to pick up quickly, or automatically know the steps to take?

3. Flow – Think of an inspired or creative burst of energy you’ve had. A hallmark is when you experience ‘timeless time’ when hours seem to pass by like minutes.
Ask yourself: What activities do I lose track of time doing?

4. Glimpses of Excellence – We all have areas where we consistently perform well, but we aren’t always intentionally aware that we’re in our genius zone, which is key to replicating the success.
Ask yourself: What activities have made you think, “WOW! How did I do that?”

5. Satisfaction – What kinds of activities have you been a part of that left you feeling a deep sense of gratification and contentment – even if you weren’t necessarily good at it?
Ask yourself: What activities have made you think, “I can’t wait to do that again?”


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