Poverty never visits the one who chooses to give what they are good at – Anonymous.
In August 2020, a powerful storm struck in Iowa, leaving the city of Mount Vernon with fallen debris and trees. On the day of the storm, 13-year-old Tommy Rhomberg decided to use some of the fallen trees to carve a bat for his best friend Walker, who was celebrating his birthday and had an affinity for baseball bats. Using his grandfather’s tools and sandpaper, Tommy took the next several days to make good on his decision. Walker was amazed and excited when he received his gift. He was equally grateful for his friend taking the time to make such a thoughtful gift. Tommy has always been a builder. He loves making things. His dedication and commitment to carve a bat was quite a gesture from a 13-year-old.
His mum, Amanda Rhomberg, saw the bat and posted it on Facebook. Suddenly, requests were pouring in daily from people wanting Tommy to make baseball bats for them and willing to pay. Tommy went to work. His parents bought him a lathe to carve the bats and helped him build a website where he could sell the bats. Tommy went further. He used part of the profits to help families that were devastated by the storm. Tommy exemplifies that when we use what we are good at, we make a difference not only in those around us but also in the lives of people we may never meet.
Like Tommy made a difference in his corner of the world, we can do the same by choosing to grow and give what we are good at doing. How do we find out what we are good at and then use it to make an impact?
I believe patterns are a great place to begin. By patterns, I mean noticing the commonalities of feedback you receive from a swath of people. These could be friends, families, and even strangers who compliment you when you do something. When Tommy’s friend saw the gift, he was grateful. When his mum saw the bat, she was shell-shocked at his woodcraft. Once she posted it, and the request poured in for bats, the patterns of compliments were hard to ignore. Noticing these patterns can be the bread crumbs leading you to what you are good at doing.
The patterns that led me to write blogs and books came from my wife and friends who urged and encouraged me to make a consistent habit of writing. Are you always complimented for your organizational skills and ability to execute a task? This could be an indication of management abilities in you. Are you good at drawing the right people to work on a common goal? You could be showing leadership traits. Exploring these patterns further can lead to what you are good at doing.
Next, find what you are drawn to and cannot resist. For example, I am drawn to writing. I find myself sitting with a notebook or my laptop and start writing or typing. I use different prompts around me to write. For example, suppose, I spot a herd of deer grazing outside our home; their presence could prompt me to begin writing. I would write how their feet give them the ability to tread different landscapes. I would connect this to the effectiveness and impact we make when we develop abilities that help us communicate with diverse people.
What are you drawn to in your spare time? What dreams swirl around in your mind every time you have a moment of solitude and reflection? What can you see yourself accomplishing every time you close your eyes? The patterns you recognize and the irresistible feelings you cannot shake will put you on the path to consistency.
Finding out what we are good at doing is half the battle. The second half is gaining the courage to step out and share what we are good at consistently. We live in a world where the hateful comments of a few can stop us from sharing what we excel in doing. Last year, when our church went online, as many others did because of the pandemic, YouTube and Zoom were the main channels we used to keep our weekly church program going. I especially recall after preaching one day, I looked at the comments on YouTube. In particular, the numbers below the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” emojis. For some reason, I locked my eyes on the number of “thumbs downs,” and I couldn’t erase them from my mind. My heart and mind were affected as I wondered who these people were and why they disliked our broadcast. My urge to quit grew the more I thought about the dislikes. I stayed the course because I learned emojis, likes, and views are not the true measuring stick of effectiveness but rather a genuineness and authenticity to serve people. These traits are difficult to gag even in the cancel culture we live in today. Giving what you are good at should never be governed by whether or not people give you credit.
Those who decide to always serve and give what they are good at will find a launching pad to take flight and soar in the air of diligence and excellence, regardless of the season. Consistency requires courage. Most of the time, our courage is present but trapped in the cobwebs of fear and what others will say in response to what we do. We seldom discover how much of an impact we can make until our courage is freed from these webs and we give what we are good at to impact others.
Final Thought: Out of a kind birthday gesture to his best friend, Tommy discovered and leveraged what he was good at for impact in his hometown during a crisis. Our world is in crisis. We need people who will discover and extract what they are good at doing and courageously use it to the maximum to help those around them and those they may never meet.
Keep on keeping on!