Norman Cousins once noted that “The Tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.” In a similar vein, Ashley Montagu wrote that “The deepest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become.”
There is a difference between simply existing and truly living. There is a distinction between simply surviving and really thriving.
The sad thing is that most people have lost sight of the human gifts that lie within them and have resigned themselves to spending the best years of their lives watching television in a subdivision.
In my speeches, I often use the following story drawn from ancient Indian mythology to remind the audience that there is an abundance of potential and ability just waiting to be awakened within us if we will only allow it to see the light of day.
Thousands of years ago, it was believed that everyone who walked the earth was a god. But humankind abused its limitless powers so that supreme god decided to hide the godhead, the source of all of this potential, so that no one could find it. The question then became, where could such a thing be hidden? The first adviser suggested it could be placed deep in the ground to which the supreme god replied, “No, eventually someone will dig deep enough and find it.”
The second adviser then offered, “What if we place the godhead at the bottom of the deepest ocean” to which the supreme god responded, “No, eventually someone will dive deep enough and find it.”
The third adviser then chimed in, “Well, why don’t we put it on the top of the highest mountain?” which prompted the supreme god to reply, “No, I’m certain that eventually someone will scale that highest of peaks and find it.”
After reflecting for some time, the supreme god found the solution: “I will put this source of all human power, potential and purpose inside the hearts of every man, woman and child on the planet, for they will never think to look there.”
In all my work with employees of organisations across North America, I see the same thing: too many people spend more time focusing on their weakness rather than developing their strengths. By concentrating on what they don’t have, they neglect the talents they do have.
The greatest people who have gone before us all had a simple strategy that ensured their success: they knew themselves.
They made the time to reflect on their core abilities - those special qualities that made them unique - and spent the rest of their lives refining and expanding them.
You see, we are all endowed with the capacity for genius. Perhaps you have just not taken the time to discover what your personal gifts are and then honed them to the level where you are considered brilliant. Are you using the best within you to its fullest capacity?
If not, you are not only doing yourself a disservice, you are doing the world, and all those within it who could benefit from your unique talents, a disservice. Ruskin put it this way, “The weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him and which worthily used will be a gift also to his race.”
Excerpt from Who Will Cry When You Die by Robin Sharma. www.robinsharma.com