In the midst of a global pandemic, with the world on pause, businesses shut down, some for good, unemployment through the roof, and many of the employed receiving pay cuts or overwhelming increases in their workload. Culture is suggesting that the best use of our time is starting a business or a new side hustle. 

While expanding your sources of income is great, especially if it’s a venture, you’ve wanted to get off the ground for some time. What’s more important than doing the work to register a new LLC, create an additional source of income, or gain a new skill, is the work we can do on ourselves internally during COV19.

For many of us, this moment of forced self-isolation and home confinement is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to sit with ourselves for an extended period of time. 

Personally, I believe the best use of our time would be to make internal progress. This work, although it has no glitter or glam, and if posted on social media, won’t get you a bunch of likes or help you go viral, is worth it. And although internal progress can look different for everyone, I’d suggest focusing on either one of the following: healing from your past or discovering your gift. In this article, I’ll focus on the latter. 

Discover Your Gift

“A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” – Proverbs 18:16

A month into my entrepreneurial journey, I came across Eric Thomas’s Be Fruitful series. In parts four and five, the focus of the message was Proverbs 18:16.

At the time, still wondering if I made the right decision to leave my job, the video series served as a form of validation that maybe I had. Especially when ET said, “You are listening to my voice, and you don’t realize that you are broke financially, in your relationships, and in opportunity, because you went and got a job that God may not have told you to go get. You did not use your gift!” 

Listening, I thought, my mom, needs to hear this. Lol Her resistance to me quitting my job goes against my gift and ultimately what God told me to do. Because now that I can manage my own schedule, for at least two hours a day, I’m in my gift of writing, and the rest of the day, I’m using my “gift” of finance/real estate. 

“This week, I went to a high school for free. I don’t need money. I just need a microphone, an auditorium full of kids, and to be in my gift. And when I stand there and do what I’ve been called to do, opportunities are opening. How many times in a week do you use your gift?”

“Get in your gift. You are broke because you did not get in your gift. You got a job. It did not say that your job will make room for you. You’re at some desk. You’re not in your gift. That’s not what God told you to do.” — Eric Thomas

Still upset and hurt by my mom’s lack of acceptance, I used the message to develop a sense of superiority because I was in my gift. I was doing what I was called to do. However, as time progressed, I realized that my perspective was wrong. I was blinded by my lack of understanding of the difference between a talent and a gift.


Talents Vs. Gifts

Talents are abilities inherited from our parents, while spiritual gifts come from God. 

I’ve been good at math and with numbers my entire life. When I started thinking about potential careers in high school, I looked at quantitative-based majors in business. I landed on Accounting and Finance because they combined my gift with numbers and my interest in business. Sharing with my parents, I found out for the first time that my dad got his associates in Accounting and graduated summa cum laude. 

My intellect around numbers came from my dad. It’s not a gift; it’s a talent. And when I reflect on my motives, it’s clear.  

My desire for money fueled my journey from school to corporate and later to real estate. I studied finance because I was good at it but, more importantly, because I wanted to learn to make money. By the time I got to my senior year and realized school wasn’t going to teach me how to make a million, I went to corporate. When I concluded a 9-5 wouldn’t do it either, I turned to entrepreneurship. 

Often the motive behind our desire for success in our talent is self, yes I had a bit of “I want to help out my family” sprinkled in there, but if I had to be honest, it was about me wanting money since I didn’t have it growing up. 

And while there is nothing wrong with using your talent to generate income, I don’t think that’s what our career should be centered around. 

Unfortunately, our gift is not always directly connected to our talent. Meaning that because both are perfected with use, you can be highly talented at something we’re not gifted at, and have an under-developed gift. 

This was me. I found myself in a career based on my talent, not my gift. 

When I transitioned to entrepreneurship, still consumed by money, I couldn’t buy into the idea that writing could be a legitimate career. It also didn’t make sense. I just started writing in 2016, how is this even a gift? 

Progressing through my journey, I realized there is work associated with our gifts. Think about it, getting a bike for your birthday doesn’t mean you can ride a bike. It just means you have all the tools you need to ride a two-wheeler; what’s left is practice. 

I’ve always been a thinker, receiving the feedback you’re “thoughtful” many times. However, since I didn’t read or seek out quality information, my thoughtfulness wasn’t as sharp as it could be. And since I didn’t practice writing, I never learned to turn the thoughts in my head into words on a paper.

Nonetheless, your gift is not about you. It’s about others. In conversation with another writer, he said, “people think writers enjoy writing. No, we’re compelled to write.” I agreed. Writing has been the only thing I’ve ever done that wasn’t for money. In my first two years, I wrote over 50 articles and didn’t make anything but a couple of cents (literally) from Medium. 

I didn’t write for money, instead because I was compelled to share a message. 

Closing

If you, like myself, spent most of your life developing your talent, pursuing your gift can be challenging as it feels like you’re starting over. And the world doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it will try to tell you that you’re better off sticking with your talent because money and security are attached to it. 

As I interact with my network of friends, family, and young professionals, I’m amused by how often they assume that because I was in a better place financially when I worked in corporate America, that I’m worse off today. 

When in reality, despite not being as financially secure as I’d like, I’m in a better place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I’m happier, more secure in who I am, and have a clearer understanding of my purpose.

Moreover, use this time to discover your gifts, and if you know what they are, develop them daily. Don’t feel so pressured to do something magical. I think if you can walk out of this quarantine with knowledge of your gift and a routine for mastering it, then you’ve won.

Also, this doesn’t mean abandon your talent. I wouldn’t trade in my finance degree, work experience as a consultant, or real estate knowledge. At some point, I plan to leverage these skill sets to create additional streams of income, but for right now, I’m focused on my gift.