completely wasted?

A few years ago I heard Oprah say, ‘nothing is wasted.’ I think she meant in that instance that ‘Time spent doing something constructive is always to our benefit.’

I’ve got some regrets about wasted time, even when I was doing things that could be construed as beneficial at the time… but then Oprah can’t be wrong, can she?

You get to a certain age and regardless of whether something is a ‘waste of time,’ the drive to make or do is just too strong. The age and the ‘thing’ differs from person to person but I think everyone has at least one thing.

Last Sunday, over tea and Hummingbird cake, my husband asked me to ask you all a question. He wants to know if you’ve thought about your thing? What is it? That one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have put on the back burner?

I might say public speaking but that’s more something I should do rather than something I’d love to do. Maybe stand up comedy? But then that’s probably more a one-off thing that I’d like to do before I drop dead. A bucket list item.

Perhaps if I hadn’t started seriously writing at 45 I might have said “writing.” For 2022, my ‘thing’ is to start getting my work in front of publishing industry people.

That’s scary.

What is your thing? What is that one burning desire you’d like to pursue?

It might even be something you’ve never even admitted to yourself.

On Monday, a dear friend, who probably hasn’t held a paint brush since Grade 8, sent me a pic of her first painting. I am so happy to be someone who people can excitedly send proof of their first forays into creativity. It happens all the time! They know I will be proud of them. Unconditionally! They know I will be complimentary. They know I will urge them on to do more.

And I am so very excited for my Sister-in-Law Karen Betts who just released her first book. It’s a picture book for her little grandson. She said I had inspired her to write!

Music to my ears!

It’s not surprising that when I did the High 5 Strengths Test My number 1 was Coach.* The surprising thing is I have absolutely no desire to coach people as a business. I don’t want that kind of pressure. I want to encourage, congratulate, buoy, commiserate where needed, uplift, inspire, push where necessary. I’m more than happy to inspire by going after my “thing.”

We don’t always hear the cheerleader though, do we? For years I had people in my corner who supported my art and encouraged me, but their encouragement mostly fell on an unready heart. I struggled to believe I could make a career from the art that my soul wanted to make so I didn’t believe them. In my head, they were just being kind, or flattering me, or didn’t really know what it takes to make a career as an artist. But then it was the words of a couple of people who truly did not know what it took to make a career as an artist that stopped me believing in myself years ago.

We listen to the fears of others and call them facts, especially when they are spoken by people we believe have our best interests at heart. I often say, ‘Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice,’ but the sad thing is, when we’re just starting out in a creative field, we go to those closest to us for advice and criticism.

They usually have no idea!

Unless you’re already surrounded by talented artists or writers, your loved ones probably don’t have the knowledge to offer a learned opinion.

‘Is this any good?’ we say, eyes wide like a child showing our latest bit of work.

The best response is unconditional acceptance of the time and care it took to make the thing. The worst? Telling someone their creative output is a waste of time. That’s unforgiveable.

*My results from the High 5 Strengths Test. It all seems pretty legit.

  • 1. COACH Your objective is to develop people’s potential. Contrary to what others might think, you believe that every person has the potential for development. None of the people have achieved the ultimate level of excellence – there is always space to grow. You perceive it as a personal mission to help others utilize their potential and to experience success. As the result, you look for ways to facilitate their learning process – from challenging their thoughts in a discussion to creating environments which would facilitate learning process. You are one of those leaders that really care about the development of team members and they really appreciate it.
  • 2. PHILOMATH Your objective is to learn new things. Due to your love of learning people tend to say you are a very curious person. You like to experiment with different styles of learning as well – in the end, there is something to learn from that as well, right? As it’s the processes itself that excite you, you are not necessarily interested in becoming a subject matter expert. Instead you prefer learning something fast and then shift to a new thing to learn. Thanks to this strength, you learn very fast and thrive in short projects and dynamically changing environments. Needless to say, you will always be the one to contribute with new knowledge to your team as well.
  • 3. EMPATHIZER Your objective is to be empathetic to others’ emotions. No one can step into the others’ shoes better than you – it comes so naturally to you. You might not agree with every perspective and emotion, but most importantly you are able to understand what the person is going though. It allows you to have personalized approach to everyone, to see their differences and specialties, to include them and to treat fairly. Naturally, it draws others to you, as you know exactly how they feel. In a team, such a strength based on kindness can be essential for mitigating conflicts by making sure all team members are aware of each other’s emotions and challenges.
  • 4. STRATEGIST Your objective is to see the big picture. Have you heard about ‘taking the helicopter view’? In your case, you are constantly on this helicopter! That’s not even a skill, it’s a special way of seeing things – a special perspective on the world at large, where everything is interconnected. While others could be confused by your short-terms steps, in your mind you have a clear multi-step strategy on how to arrive at the desired outcome and to avoid paths leading nowhere. Such a strategist is an essential asset for any team determined to find a clear direction in a complex situation.
  • 5. BELIEVER Your objective is to believe and to do ‘the right thing’. Of course, ‘the right thing’ differs from person to person, but one thing is true – you have a certain set of values that you are not ready to compromise. Moreover, these values are like a compass guiding you, providing a direction and giving your life meaning and satisfaction. You believe that money is not the ultimate measure of success. Some people call you the person of purpose. Correspondingly, you choose people you spend time with and companies you work for with respect to the alignment to these values. It makes you very trustworthy and reliable in any environment. Your team members will always value your consistency.