Episode 27: Part 2 - Forget Finding Your Passion! Let’s Talk About Your Gift...

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Hi. I'm Victoria Hefty, and welcome to Activate Purpose where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. In today's episode, I'm once again talking about the often dreaded finding your passion question. But this time I'm sharing a new perspective that turned out to be a game changer for me. Learn why focusing on my gifts and not my passion has resulted in me taking on a new position and finally getting paid to do something that I would actually do for free.

Thank you for joining me for today's call. As always, or I should say over the last few months, I always have to put the disclaimer of I do have an infant that is a wrapped on me currently that is sleeping, but still makes noise. So, I apologize ahead if you can hear her, which you can, but do know that she is sleeping soundly on me.

So, I can't tell you how much I look forward to these recordings, even with a crazy day and motherhood and everything. Really, it's an amazing outlet for me to be able to get my thoughts out of my head, and I think to hopefully show you that you're not alone in this life journey. You know, we're all trying to figure it out and figure out what makes us happy in life, at work. So, I genuinely thank you for allowing me to be part of your day, or I should say me and my daughter to be part of your day.

So way back in episode 19, I shared an approach that I had read about that focused not on finding your passion, but instead focusing on the things that made you curious, you know, the ... It was around what are the things that you're curious about and follow that instead. If you haven't listened to that episode, I highly encourage you to. I'll put a link in the to that episode in the show notes.

So to summarize that show, I talked about the things that I was curious, that I was personally curious about after I did an exercise that the person recommended. Some of the things that came up were media, writing, coaching, interviewing. And as I was preparing for this recording, it's amazing to look back and listen to that episode for the reasons I'll share shortly. There's definitely some overlap.

So about two to three weeks ago, I was ending out my evening with an inspirational clip on YouTube, so I was watching a YouTube video. And if you're a loyal listener, you know that I am prone to some weird night habits before bed, like watching wig reviews or candle reviews, you know, just weird things that sort of just slow my mind down because, as you can probably imagine, I just ... My thoughts are always on. I feel like I'm just full of ideas. I'm bursting with information and just knowledge, and I love to learn, and read, and think. But at nighttime, that's not a good trait. So, I have to sort of watch different things that don't seem very interesting to slow my mind down.

Anyway, I'm sort of going off tangent, but that's another story. But anyway, I've been trying to expand my nightly repertoire to unwind after a long day. I bumped into Steve Harvey's video. So for those who don't know Steve Harvey, I'll include a link, but he's this comedian who I think is actually pretty hilarious. He argues that you should not focus on your passion. In fact, in like the clip in the video, he says ... He's like, "Don't nobody care about your passion. Follow your gift instead." And so of course, this had me intrigued and laughing, so I kept on listening. I should say watching. He makes the argument that too many people are outwardly seeking million-dollar solutions when your gift is right there in front of you.

So, what is your gift? Well, he defines it as it's the thing you do best with the least amount of effort. I'll say it again. It's the thing you do best with the least amount of effort. So if you're like me, your brain is now furiously trying to figure out what that gift is, right? But hold on. Hold on a minute. Stay focused. Steve says too many people are focused on the traditional ones, singing, sports, acting, to realize that there's a whole range of gifts out there. And as a result, we're overlooking our strengths and our gifts that are right there just waiting for us to seize.

For example, Steve says his gift is the ability to make people laugh. He breaks it down further and says, "Part of that gift means being able to quickly read the room or situation, and to just instantly come up with a witty or a snarky comment." You know, that's part of his gift. But really, at its most simple, his gift is the ability to make people laugh.

Or you can think of Oprah, another famous example. Who doesn't know Oprah, right? But in Oprah, actually in her own words, I've seen some videos to support this. She says her gift is her empathy or her ability to connect with people. Yes, she does this in different ways, in different forms, you know, her talk show, her book club. You name it. But at its core, her empathy or ability to connect with people is her gift.

So, I watched an interview where Oprah talks about how she started out her career as a journalist and a TV news anchor like in Baltimore, I believe, and how her boss at the time was always getting upset with her because Oprah just had too much empathy for the people whose new stories she was covering. So for example, she would do a report on the homeless, and then after she finished, she wanted to go back and give blankets, or she did. She would actually go back and see how these people were doing. She would connect with them, and her boss would be like, "No, no, no. Listen, it's time to move on to the next news story."

Or you know, Oprah had a difficult time showing up with the news crew at people's doors and interviewing these people after they just experienced a tragic loss. It was something she did not like doing. but again, her boss made it clear that you need to be neutral in order to report the news. Oprah really struggled with that because of her ability to connect and have empathy with people well after the news cycle had ended. So it took her some time, but eventually she realized that what other people thought was her weakness was in fact her greatest strength and her gift.

So, back to Steve Harvey. And my daughter, again, apologies. What I like about this gift thing is when he says what you do best with the least amount of effort, the focus is on you. It doesn't say what you do best relative to other people. There are tons of great comedians, tons of talk show hosts, tons of great athletes, singers, chefs, writers. I could go on and on. I mean, every profession has a variety of talented people in it.

And yeah, what I find interesting is when people ask what our passion is, you are probably like me at first and we tried to find something like super unique, obscure. I actually think we are just over complicating it. You're gift could be baking, cutting hair, negotiating, getting people out of trouble, writing, decorating your house, drawing, sewing, taking care of people, taking care of children. I say that as a mom. I love my children. I would not say taking care of children is my gift. You know, the list goes on and on. You don't have to get fancy with it.

I think it's important to think outside the confines of a predefined profession. Profession, yeah. And more about the activity. So, the question isn't, again, what you do better than anyone else. It's what do you do with the ... What do you do best with the least amount of effort? I think this is why Steve says following your passion can lead you astray, because you may be following something you like, but not something that comes naturally or easy to you. That's important because even after you've identified your gift, it's going to take a lot of hard work to be successful anyway. But, it's a lot easier to do that work when you're filled with joy and spark because that thing comes more naturally to you and it doesn't feel like work.

Remember, working hard isn't the same as feeling like the work is hard. I'll give you two examples. I'll start with the one Steve uses. He says, you know, he's passionate about golf. He's like, "I love playing golf, but I'm not good at it. Even if I keep working at it, at best, I would just be okay. You know, I would just be a mediocre golf player if I kept on working at it. Playing golf is my passion, but it's not my gift."

So, an example for me would be cooking. I love cooking. I love cooking for my family, and baking has become a real source of joy for me. You know, usually when I'm upset or I need comfort, I've turned to baking for some reason. But the thing is I usually have to research like 20 different recipes. I have my phone out. I can't veer too far away from it. And not because I don't know how to cook great food, I do, but I have to start cooking at like 4:00 PM and I have like a whole system to make it all work. I have no business being a chef, you know? I enjoy it, but it does not come easily to me. Some people can just whip together a meal with like no recipe, and do it as they're talking, and everything is great. That's not me at all. It's not what I do best with the least amount of effort. I can make a great meal. But again, that second part is important, with the least amount of effort.

So, what is, right? What is it for me? Well, it took me a couple of days to really think about this gift thing. I started looking back at all of the things that I enjoy and have created and asked myself, "What is the common sort of why behind why I like doing all these things?" And for me, I realized that whether it was, let's say, giving advice, writing my book or blog, conducting market research for work, or even doing this podcast, the common theme and motivation is this underlying desire to get people and the companies that I was working for to take action.

I'm kind of laughing now because the point of this podcast is called activate purpose, you know, finding purpose through action, and I feel like it's been right there in front of me this entire time and I've just been ignoring it. So really, when I was thinking about this take action thing, that's really important to me. You know, I strongly dislike when people just sort of sit there and take in information. You know, my job, I feel like, is to get people to, one, not just sit there and take in information, but two, to actually do something with that information. You know, it's not a fancy gift. It's not singing, it's not dancing, but it is mine.

And when I look back and think about how many times people have said to me, "Hey, I finally did this, Victoria, because I read about it in your book," or, "You know, your podcast made me do this differently," or, "Thanks for that advice. You know, I was able to do this and I feel so much better," for me, that is huge given, one, how easy it comes for me to think in ways that I think breaks down what can seem like a complex or complicated either problem or idea, and I have the ability to sort of chunk it down into very like small, approachable steps or ways to think about it. And then two, I think I use my positivity to inspire and encourage people to take that first little step.

You know, there is an element of like motivation or inspiration in this. I think that ... At least I truly believe that taking that first tiny step when trying to do something new or trying to solve a problem, it's always the hardest part. I do believe that my gift is being able to inspire people to take action.

So similar to Oprah, when I look back on my professional career, I can see why pure strategy work was not satisfying for me. That type of work was about creating the vision and only that, but there was never anything that prompted the organization I was working for to take action. So, 9 times out of 10, I should say like 99 times out of a 100, the work just sat there after these important meetings that we were killing ourselves, you know, crazy hours putting together these like hundred-page decks or slides and nothing was ever done. It was just the ... You know, this work was just literally sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

And whereas when I became an independent consultant and I had the privilege of choosing what types of projects I did, I realize now that I was drawn to market research projects for a reason, and not just any market research projects, but the ones where the company had a decision to make. You know, they had to make some sort of big decision as a result of the work. I only wanted to do work that would help the company or team take action to either solve a problem, launch a product, or do something. Those were the types of projects that while I worked really hard on, you know, I stayed up late working on them, and even still do today, I never ever felt like the work was hard. That's an important distinction. It just came natural to me. The work was never hard. I just maybe felt like I didn't have enough hours in the day to do it.

And so creatively, I also realize that this is why I've been drawn to design, for example, even more and more, graphic design. Don't get me wrong. Design, it's not my gift, right? But, I've been taking online classes and watching videos on how to ... for actually almost a couple of years now on how to make content more engaging. I realize this wasn't me just learning for learning's sake. At the time, it was like, "Well, I don't know. It sounds interesting. Like why not do it?" Which is okay. I'm glad I did that. But, I realize now that I was drawn to that type of content, that type of information around design, was because I think it's really important when I started to apply it to my work presentations or let's say my webinars or even this podcast. I realized it was making people more likely to take action. If they could relate to the content, if I was sharing it in a way that made it interesting, they were more likely to take notice, and therefore take action as a result. When I say action, it can be as simple as listening to one more podcast episode, reading a book I've recommended, looking into partnering with a company I suggested in the market research report, buying that software I said was better than the competitors because I presented it in a way that was compelling.

So, once I had this slow epiphany ... Which I know sounds like a contradiction, you know, perhaps it is, but I don't know. It was a slow epiphany. Once I had it, I felt free. It's actually pretty amazing how free I feel right now. It's the first time that I feel like while I had to look externally to find the clues, the answer has always been there. So, this is from the days of people asking me for advice and me pointing them to a book before the internet was a thing or going to the library, for example, and reading up on how I could help other people to spending way too much time writing a super long email to a friend, listing out different places for them to go to help when I don't have the answer. So, I realize that now, too.

When a friend or someone asks a question and needs help solving something, whether it's business or personal, when I don't know the answer, I never stop there. Looking back, I usually always say, "I don't know," and then I spend a lot of time doing research, finding out ways to help them, even if it's just identifying resources that may be of help. I do that all pretty effortlessly without feeling like it's a burden, without there being any financial reward. It's just me being me, which leads me to my final update.

As life would have it, just as I had this slow epiphany of my gift, the organization that I've had been working with as both a consultant and informal coach offered me a more formal role. I'll put a link to my LinkedIn profile for anyone that is interested. Feel free to connect, by the way. Mention the podcast is how you know me so I can accept you. But, I had been doing these one-off ad hoc coaching sessions, but I absolutely loved them. I would take the time to research ahead of time, learn what the person was struggling with, prepare for the call, and then once we had the call walk away feeling amazing because I was able to really help this person break down their problem and offer suggestions in a way that made them much more likely to act and feel less overwhelmed, so even if the action was them saying no to something.

At one point, my husband walked in as I was on a call. He later said, "You know, you just made a sound so effortless. You just felt so excited, and I felt your energy as you were on the call." Really, that's how I felt. I was energized, and it was effortless. And you know, for me, I did the prep work. Yes, this isn't saying effortless doesn't mean you don't put in any work. So, I did do the prep call for these calls. But when it came down to the actual coaching session, the time flew by. I was definitely in flow, as you know new age people call it.

So, I'll talk more about my role in the next episode, which I think that episode is going to cover, I think, all of the great things that can happen as I'm learning when you start to notice and lean into your gift. But what I will say for this episode is that this new role, which is, you know, I guess the title is Professional Development Director and Coach, combines two of my strengths, which is, one, the consulting side, so creating engaging research-based content, and then two, giving practical advice to professionals about how to grow as leaders and how to think differently about their future career. So, whether it's creating content or giving advice, both of these are just really more tactical strengths that are vehicles for my underlying gift, which is inspiring people and organizations to take action.

So, my challenge for you is to try and identify your gift over the next couple of weeks. Yes, you know, if you need to, look externally for clues. Again, don't just sit there and think it will magically pop into your head. It may, but I'm guaranteeing you for the vast majority of people it will not. It's going to take a little bit of effort at first because I think we've been so ingrained to focus on passion. Instead, as you are looking for external cues, ask what parts of your job you love doing more than others. You can absolutely hate your job but still love one tiny aspect of it. And when you do that thing, you feel alive. So, that could be presenting to the client, putting together a presentation, talking to customers on the phone, comforting colleagues who come to you either in your office or your cube when they're stressed out and they just feel so much better when they walk away, planning the office parties, scheduling all of the travel logistics. The potential list of clues is endless.

Also, start thinking about what you do easily in your personal life that perhaps you are taking for granted. So when someone asks you for a favor, are they always asking you to help them with a certain type of favor? Are there certain things you say yes to, even though you shouldn't, but you do it anyway because it feels pretty effortless to you? Remember, this isn't about finding something super unique. It's about being present enough to understand what you do best with the least amount of effort. You may need to go down a layer or two before you hit on the pure gift itself, but I promise this has the potential to be a game-changing challenge for you.

As always, thank you again, again, again for allowing me to spend time with you. If you have any questions, suggestions for future episodes, you can email me at victoria@activatepurpose.com. I will include links to the resources I used in the show notes at activatepurpose.com/episode27. Finally, if you enjoyed today's episode, really, I would greatly appreciate it if you leave a short review and subscribe to next week's episode.

Until next time. Bye

I'm Victoria, your host.jpg
Activate Purpose