I live in America where there is a continual conversation about one’s individuality. We love to take tests to see what our strengths and skills are. Shelves are full of books to help us discover our unique composition and how to capitalize on it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-awareness. According to Myers Briggs I am an ENTP, which pretty much nails me. Knowing who we are is essential to understanding what we were made to do and how we were made to do it, but it is also where the problem comes in.
What is the problem?
I think we are each put on this earth to accomplish a certain task. You can call it what you want – destiny, mission or calling. I believe that our being here serves a purpose and that we are each divinely made to see that accomplished. My own belief is that God hand-crafted each of us and therefore every life is of deep significance.
The flaw with this mindset is when we somehow believe that it means we are going to be stand-alone unique. Our territory of gifting can’t be shared with someone else or our purpose is no longer special.
Say I am a great baker and I meet another great baker in my town. Shoot. This won’t do. I then decide that I should become the best cupcake baker to set myself apart. Along comes the massive cupcake trend. Gotta specialize and separate myself from the pack again. Now I only do sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan cupcakes…
Clearly I am not really a baker, but you get my point. This idea that we are the only one called to do what is in our heart keeps us constantly striving to find a new specialty. Every time I find a new blog that has a similar feel and perspective as mine it is tempting to throw in the towel. Especially if it is better than mine. Bah, I’m not playing second fiddle. I am created for a unique mission and if they have this one covered then this must not really be my mission. And just like that I have convinced myself I need to find something new to be ‘unique’ at. If another person is doing a similar to me, then I must be doing the wrong thing.
Because I am one in a million. At least that’s what they say.
I was at a conference in August and Jeff Goins said this:
” The earth has 7 billion people on it. If you are one in a million, then there are 7,000 people just like you.”
Crap. I just lost my edge. And so did you.
Sure, they aren’t just like me. They probably aren’t from Texas, born on my same birthday, and they sure as heck better not be married to my husband. They are versions of me though. As much as it pains me to admit it, they are often better versions of me.
Thanks to the internet we have endless ways to compare and measure ourselves against others. That brilliant idea we have to be entirely original is killed by a simple google search. We find blueprints of another’s dreams and ideas that make ours seem like plagiarism.
Flawed thinking would cause me to believe my mission and dream are taken. I need to find a new one now – finders keepers and all that. With a heavy heart I go back to the drawing board to sketch out a different version of myself. One that isn’t taken.
Only recently have I recognized this flawed thinking in myself. Another person with my same strengths and ambitions automatically becomes a threat. Why do I believe that unless I am unparalleled then I am not profoundly meaningful?
There are over 3 million nurses and nearly 4 million teachers in the United States. Nothing profound or distinct about being 1 of 3,000,000. Unless you are the patient who depends on that one nurse’s hopeful smile. Or the student who decided to try college at the encouragement of that one teacher.
I’ve decided that being unique isn’t so important. Instead I am going to focus on being meaningful, helpful and kind. —> click to tweet.
All of humanity desires to know they are special. Myself included. I am just changing my definition of what “special” means.
So, I am raising my glass to all of us. All of us who will put down the endless striving that drives us to fight for a piece of earth all to ourselves. Cheers to a movement of sharing our advantage in hopes that we can – together – make this world a better place.
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