This is an excerpt from my book Better Than Sex.
The best way to discover your unique gift is to ask the people who have known you for a long time. Ask your parents, your siblings, your childhood friends. You can ask your spouse or partner, your children. These are the people who have come to know you in the rough as well as the smooth; they have seen you vulnerable and without your make-up.
If you work with people, your clients are probably the least helpful people to ask. They may know your professional abilities, but they have probably not seen you in your relaxed innocence. The other least reliable person to ask is yourself. What we think we are here for is often so tied up with habits, addiction, narcissism, the avoidance of fear, and the attachment to pleasure, that asking other people is much more reliable.
The question to ask these people who know you well is along the lines of: “What are the qualities that you feel coming through me in a way that you don’t feel quite the same with anybody else?” Find your own words. We are asking for qualities, not abilities. The kinds of answers you might get are: “kind, bubbly, detail-oriented, inspiring, courageous….” I usually suggest asking twelve people, by email, for twelve qualities each, making a total of 144.
Becoming clear about your unique gift may evoke a great deal of resistance. I have noticed that people often have more resistance about the thing they were born to do than anything else. The stakes are high. When you are working a nine-to-five job somewhere, not so much is on the line. People may appreciate you, they may not. Who gives a toss? When it is your true gift, you are much more vulnerable. Your guts are exposed. It is often terrifying to step into what you were born to do and into your true power. That is why as a coach I rely heavily on the opinion of people who know my clients well. You have too much invested in protecting yourself to see your own gift clearly.
I am a good example of this exploration. The people who have known me all my life tell me that the qualities they appreciate the most are clarity, eloquence, thinking outside the box, and being humorous. It is clear that my life-stream is very connected with being a teacher, with bringing forth spiritual awakening outside of the context of religious hierarchy. But you cannot imagine how much resistance I have had to being in this role. It means that I have to show up and live my life for real. My teacher in India originally commanded me to go and teach. I was very resistant. I had seen others become teachers, and I was not interested in attracting the kind of attention they received. I did it anyway for a while—he gave me no choice. After a few years, I went back to visit him and resigned. I told him I did not want to be in that role any longer.
He looked at me. He said nothing. He smiled.
Then he said: “Do whatever you want, but ultimately your destiny will win.” He was right. Once you get a hint of the reason you are here in a body at this time, it will not leave you alone, however great is the resistance. But I needed him to see that in me, and bring it forth, just as I do now with my coaching clients.
Once you have a list of 144 qualities from the twelve people, you can start to correlate them. We use a spreadsheet for this. You will soon see that many of the words are similar; for example, “kind,” “caring,” “thoughtful,” and “understanding.” You can group such words together. And then you can organize your spreadsheet with the most popular ones at the top of the list. Some qualities will receive only one vote from one person: ignore those. Others will have ten or twelve votes: those are the ones to pay attention to. Once you have grouped and ordered them all in this way, look at the top five or six lines. This is a pretty good description of your unique gift, the song that only you can sing.
Once you have created this reading of your unique gift, from the reflection of the people close to you, it is time to compare it with how you live your life today. A good coach can help you to determine this.
When the correlation between the gift and how you spend most of your time is high, we can expect to see certain characteristics. You will be happy most of the time. You will probably find yourself being successful without effort. You will enjoy excellent health, because releasing resistance also reduces your stress level. You will most likely find yourself spending time with other people who are also giving their gift with nothing held back.