A friend of mine was chastised through her childhood for being too enthusiastic – “people aren’t like that,” she was told. Instead, she was encouraged to “tone it down,” which apparently made those around her feel more comfortable. Another friend is committed to thinking creatively about how best to educate children and has come up with a host of great ideas to do just that. She reports that people have repeatedly backed away, saying she is “just too much.”
Fortunately, both of these people didn’t give up on their special gifts and perspectives and instead found environments and people that value who they are. I can tell you they both make a huge difference in my life. Taking a walk with my enthusiastic friend is always a treat. An avid photographer, she stops the strangers we pass and offers to take their photo. She engages them in conversations about their home and their experience of hiking in the park she loves. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s not long before I’m smiling or laughing – and meeting new people myself. With her book, Living With Enthusiasm, and the programs she presents around the country, she helps people experience less stress and more life. What an impact her enthusiasm makes! My brilliant friend the educator continues her quest to train teachers who engage in authentic ways with their students. She challenges everyone to be the best they can be. Her vision is to create an online school attended by children from around the world, as she knows that international participation will enrich the educational experience and reduce conflict in the world by getting people from different cultures to work together from an early age. Rather than “too much,” I believe the world doesn’t have enough of what she offers! They both inspire me to think big and to realize that I can make a difference too. I’m so glad these two friends didn’t allow their vision and special qualities to be quashed by the naysayers in their lives.
What aspects of YOU have been unwelcome in your family? Workplace? Organizations?
What do you know about the value of those parts of yourself? Why are they important to you, to how you live your life, and how might they help the world?
At a recent meeting of my professional organization, I was asked what was responsible for our group’s success. We formed in 1985 and have grown to be the largest, most dynamic, and most progressive organization of its kind. Recalling our development, each president brought his or her own special interests and personality to the organization. Our first president was relaxed and welcomed everyone to contribute whatever they wanted to. We moved forward quickly, thanks to several people with a variety of talents. Our second president was European and forged a strong connection between our fledgling American organization and the more experienced physicians in Europe, who generously traveled to the US to teach us. Our third president was a strong leader with experience in other medical organizations. He created a committee structure that encouraged greater participation and organization of our activities. Without the unique contributions of each of these and our succeeding presidents, we would not be the group we are today.
As a physician coach, I ask my clients to consider their many roles in life. Then, we look at what their strengths and talents are. Once you have done this exercise, imagine how you can better bring those aspects of yourself into those roles. Each of us is crucial to our families, our professions, our country and the world. It’s time for all of us to enthusiastically bring all of who we are – especially what’s unique or special – to our interactions and activities. Our relationships will be more authentic, our organizations will be stronger, and the world will be better because of it.