Martin Luther King Jr Day is often celebrated as a day of service. At my first post-college “big girl” job, we would always participate in a group service project on this holiday. We could all gather as a team, build some camaraderie and do a job that just about anyone could do.
We are (hopefully) all brought up to value service to others. Donate money, food, or clothes. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Help the homeless. There are tons of charitable and non-profit organizations out there that allow us to generally lend a hand to those in need.
We are taught that it “feels good” to help others. Giving is better than getting, etc. Our heads nod unemphatically. This is nothing new.
To be honest though, giving in these generic ways never felt as good as I thought it should. I realized it made a difference when things were more personal.
Giving with a Purpose
A year or two ago, my company hosted a big “Career Day” event to show that Leadership valued employees, but also that individuals needed to take charge of their own career paths to get where they want to go. You can’t count on other people to take you there, or blame them when you don’t.
The company offered many tools and resources, including a Purpose Profile assessment. Answer a bunch of questions and the algorithm assigns you a purpose type. I wish I could share a link to the assessment so you could do it yourself, but unfortunately it’s a paid service for companies to buy for their employees.
The profile assigns you types in 3 categories of drivers:
- WHO do you want to impact?
- WHY is change needed?
- HOW do you like to solve problems?
Of course I only have MY types in each of those areas so I can’t give you all the options. I do remember that of the WHO, the options were individuals, organizations/groups, or society. When the profile pegged me was wanting to impact individuals. It made sense. I always felt like changing an organization or society was fruitless. I’m just one person. But I did feel like I could help another person. I could see a direct impact there. That’s how I’m wired. Who do YOU want to serve?
For some context, here’s my purpose: I change lives through the systems, structures and processes I build. ::lots of other stuff I won’t bore you with:: I feel most rewarded by my work when I am able to see how my contributions help others succeed.
I felt like this purpose resonated with me and I could see how some of what I was doing was falling into this purpose. For instance, helping individuals with their finances. I was helping them build systems to succeed with money. When I saw their success, I felt rewarded. Giving people advice to plan their Disney vacations. I always try to get to know the person and personalize the advice and tools I give.
Just Your Average Superhero Stuff
But as you know, 2018 was the year I became a self-help junkie and I learned even more about myself and my purpose. I heard a lot of questions like “what’s your superpower?” or “what are your God-given gifts?” and I started thinking about what those were for me. I heard how important it was to create a vision and a mission, so I started drafting those for myself.
I knew that my passions, purposes, gifts – whatever you want to call them – were personal finance and Disney. My eyes light up at the mention of both and I could talk your ear off about either one.
For a few years now, I’ve reaped the rewards of helping others with personal finance. Sometimes you think I’m doing you a favor by sitting with you and putting together your budget, but you don’t understand how much joy it gives me to go through the process and know I’m helping you! Oftentimes, you’re doing ME the favor.
And in less than 2 short months, my Disney superpower has been fully unleashed. I’ve heard from several guests how I take their Disney-induced stress away and make them feel less overwhelmed. They call me, crazed with questions and confusion, and at the end of the call, they’re calm and excited for their vacations! I did that!
When you use your gifts and passions to serve others, you are unlocking your super power.
Suddenly you understand what people mean when they say it feels good to help others, how it can actually be all about you and not about you at the same time. It’s “meaning of life” kind of stuff. And everyone needs to experience that!
Revealing Your Secret Identity
So how can you start using your superpower? You need to figure out your:
- Passions. What do you LOVE? What topic makes you ramble on and on? What makes your eyes light up? What are you doing when you lose track of time and forget to eat or go to the bathroom?
- Gifts and talents. What are you good at? What do you do that you think must be easy for everyone, but in reality, people are coming to you for help with it?
- Target audience. Who do you want to serve? Who needs your gifts the most? Who would prosper the most with your help?
Sometimes it’s really hard just to figure out your passion, or even just admit it to yourself because you don’t want to face the fact that what you’re doing 40 hours a week has nothing to do with what you love. So I want to encourage you to do some soul-searching, ask yourself these probing questions, and observe what makes you happy so you can figure out your passions and gifts. It’s the first crucial step!
As hard as all that can be, sadly, figuring out all those things often ends up being the easy part. Money and fear can keep us from unlocking our potential. You may think you have to quit your job to pursue your dreams and you feel like you could never do that.
Your next move doesn’t need to be big and drastic though. Take some baby steps. One thing at a time. Volunteer in your preferred area outside of work. Be creative to find ways you can use your super powers, if only in small doses. Using it here and there may just give you the inspiration and energy to go about the rest of your life.
It’s taken me years to get where I am now, but in the meantime I worked my day job.
I took advantage of the tools I my company offered, like purpose profiles, free self-help books, and online webinars. I started weekly finance lunch and learns to talk about money with coworkers. I started a facebook page and eventually this blog! I was also constantly helping friends and family plan their Disney vacations, just for fun.
Is It Good Enough?
It seems crazy that anyone would be ashamed of their own personal super power, but this is my struggle. In my mind, helping people plan Disney vacations doesn’t compare to going on mission trips to Africa or volunteering with kids in the inner city. I’m constantly talking myself off the “I’m not good enough” ledge. I’m helping people relieve stress and make magical family memories!!
One guest called me recently and during the conversation she told me that her husband has a rare genetic disease. He requires a lot of care and is in the hospital frequently. They had trouble conceiving, but finally she was able to get pregnant and now has a 5 year old daughter. There was a 50% chance that the daughter could also have the disease and it would make her life difficult. She said it was often hard to look at her daughter over the last 5 years not knowing what her future held. Well, recently, her daughter had genetic testing done and they found that she does NOT have the disease! Praise God! Now they are planning a trip to Disney World to celebrate. WOW. I never thought I would make an impact like that, but now I am so blessed to be a part of it. And also, no pressure to plan the most perfect Disney vacation EVER!
If you are making a positive impact on someone, you and your super power are absolutely good enough! We can’t all be on the mission field in a third world country. A lot of us are meant to make an impact in our everyday lives. That’s our purpose!
If you’re interested in discovering and using your superpower, I encourage you to make some concrete goals in this area. They don’t have to be huge, but plan to end the year more in touch with your superpower than when you started, however that may be! Declare your goals for accountability!
If you already know what your super power is, I’d love to hear about it. Share in the comments below!