How to Find Your Great Contribution
Every act of service enhances your worth.
As time passes, if you’re fortunate, you’ll make meaningful contributions to growing numbers of individuals, organizations, and communities.
The more competent you become the more opportunities you have to serve.
5 sources of competence:
- Natural talent and aptitude.
- Developed skill.
- Wisdom gleaned through relationships.
- Knowledge from school and books.
- Insight gained from success and failure.
The source of your great contribution:
The first step toward your great contribution is reflecting on your frailty or lack, not your strength. How are you solving your need for meaning or fulfilment, for example?
Great competency emerges out of great struggle.
The issue you’re solving is the answer someone else needs.
Marshall Goldsmith often shares the story of a college professor who showed him his arrogance. Watch Marshall’s videos and you see a humble spirit. His weakness became strength.
Find your great contribution by working through personal frailty.
Your great contribution is answering personal struggle.
I asked an aspiring leader how being mentored made him feel. He said, “It makes me feel like I’m worth something.” My second question, “What’s important to you about feeling like you’re worth something,” helped him see his journey.
At the end of our meeting, I asked if I might make a suggestion.
“Reflect on the answers you need. Give others the solutions you find.”
Your journey has the answer.
Pretending you’re something you’re not, blocks your great contribution.
Reflect on the journey.
- What issues are you solving?
- How is your story connected to your passion?
- What adversities have you overcome?
- How does your journey enhance your worth?
The more I learn about leaders, the more I see them answering their own need. Your great contribution emerges through frailty.
What blocks our great contribution?
How might leaders maximize their contribution to individuals, organizations, and communities?
Dan, this post really resonated with me today. I was at a point of uncertainty. What should I do “next”? What is the most meaningful thing that I could be doing at this time? Your suggestion is a purpose light for me today: “Reflect on the answers you need. Give others the solutions you find.” Thank you so much!
Thanks Giselle. I’m glad you gave us a glimpse of your journey. Best wishes
I love the idea of finding your purpose and calling through the difficulties you encounter, move through and then solve. I recently heard about the concept of the “dark night of the soul” as the way through to transformation to your calling and purpose.
I find the use of your questions to be a terrific daily practice too. I try to pay attention to the daily moments of my life to discover and grow my purpose too. The journey to potential, purpose, and great contribution are often in the daily moments & encounters we have.
Thanks for an inspirational post!
Thanks Cindy. I like the expression, “Dark night of the soul.” We grow in the dark. I don’t think we should seek out dark times. But, when they happen, we have the opportunity to enhance our competence.
So timely! “Great competency emerges out of great struggle.”. I have a struggle dropped on my desk where I have to tell a great young supervisor no! I don’t like no, but a yes in this case will be counter to what he and the team is working towards. It’s hard when you put soo much energy into building the relationship and you know how quickly your actions can introduce chaos. The challenge is in my own ignorance I am seeking wisdom and discernment that my recommendation is the right path. Ah! The joy that comes with leading! I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thanks Ken. I love the conflict I feel while reading your comment. You hate it but it’s part of the role you play. I’m right there with you. 🙂 Best wishes.
I like your response while I empathize with the position you are in. Saying no can often be difficult. Especially when others have spent time and invested honest effort. Saying no is part of a leaders job. Choose a time when spirits are good and tension are low, always do so in private addressing only those necessary, choose your words wisely, but most importantly consider tone, sincerity, and dialogue that reassures and reinforces ‘Your’ confidence in your people. “People simply want to know you care about what they do.”
If I’m still confused, I reflect on the following, “The right thing to do, is still the right thing to do, even when no one believes it, the wrong thing to do is still the wrong thing to do, even when everyone believes it.” Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and can often have negative consequences, “Welcome to the World of Leadership”, if it were easy, everyone would be do’n it…
Dan, your post on “contribution” today is absolutely the ONE WORD of the year, and the key to everything leadership, organizational and personal: Wellness, success, emotional health, energy, optimism, love, faith, hope…everything!
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. When we strip away our luck and privilege, and we consider where we’d be without them, it becomes much easier to see someone who’s poor fiscally or of spirit and say, “That could be me.” That’s empathy. Empathy tears down barriers and opens up a whole new frontier for contribution.
Or, we take our genius and God-given talents and change the world in ways that will make millions of people live better lives or more optimistically. In the course of our lives–we’ll may see suffering that’s going to break our heart. When that happens, we won’t turn away from it. That too is the moment when we our contributions are born.
Thanks Books. The heart in your comment is compelling. Although it may feel uncomfortable, I believe heart is one of the differences between good and great leaders. 🙂
I think we block our own contributions, finding reasons not to do as compared to reasons to do! We think it, but don’t “execute our thought’s” for whatever reason. Over coming ourselves is the first battle, the rest will either fall into place with our journey or we will fight another battle blocking our contributions however big or small they may be.
Thanks Tim. One of the great gifts we give others is helping them find courage to act. Successful leaders make it safe to take action and learn was we go. Good call.
Good afternoon Dan;
Had a couple Doctor appointments this morning & just sat down for a bit of lunch while I get my ‘FREAK’-on. (Service), it’s a word I remember hearing, ‘and seeing’, much more in my youth to present day. When I was young it seemed like everyone’s Dad belonged to the Rotary, Kiwanis, or was a Mason. Some were Baseball or Football Coaches, Boy Scout Leaders while others were our Sunday School Teachers. No one had to explain the reason for this ‘Commitment’ to service, “it was easily seen and felt.” My father talked with me often about our obligation to service,, (Serving Others). Although as a young man I fully understood the ‘need to serve’, & our ‘obligation’, what I did not understand was this “personal satisfaction thing” dad and others like him spoke about. As the years go by we mature, some of the seeds of wisdom planted years ago grow to fruition. We begin to understand our place in the world and what it takes to make that world “A Better Place.” Thank God for all those who make the effort to take thing time to make a difference in the life of another. I’ve always believed that anyone who aspires to be a Leader, or calls themselves a Leader, must acknowledge the importance and need for service. I sincerely believe our present culture exudes the perception that “as one climbs the ladder of success, you do less-N-less.” In my humble opinion, nothing could be, or should be, further from the truth. If you work for an organization that only promotes it’s Best and Brightest, you should have a Leadership Team that’s chock-full of experience and knowledge learned through the trail & error of life’s experiences. “CONGRATULATIONS”, you’ve got the foundation to build a Great Business or Organization on.
Service; Pay-it-forward; One good deed deserves another;, call it what you want, it’s doing what is right cause it’s the right thing to do. “It’s what makes us human, it’s what helps keep Leaders Humble.”
Thanks SGT. As I read your comment I started thinking about the long line of people who served me as I grew and matured. What a joy. And, furthermore, the list of people who pour into my life continues to grow…. not the least of which are the people who take time to share their insights by leaving comments on these blog posts.
rite back atcha my friend…
Every response is excellant, I think you struck a nerve today my friend. “GOOD-ONE”
So true… People fail when they seek to change others before they actually change themselves. Key is not to share your secrets for success until you have tested and proven them for your own self first.
Thanks Doreen. I smiled while reading your comment. It’s one thing to talk it. It’s another to live it. 🙂
Thank you for the insightful questions. They gave me a spark. Love it!
Thanks Dan for your thought provoking Article. We never cease to learn and contribute. The feeling of know all is simple disaster. I learnt so much about Leadership, Management, Public speaking skills etc; through mentoring and advanced management sessions at a late stage in my career. By then I had reached a certain level and I would not have lost anything. But the thirst to learn something which I did not possess was all pervading reason to learn. I am the better off for it.