Seeds of Growth.

Seeds of Growth.

During the pandemic, there has been a run on seeds. With vacations and business travel cancelled, people stayed home and grew vegetables and flowers. As Dr. Sue Stuart-Smith shares in her book, The Well Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, there’s a lasting imprint of our hunter-gatherer heritage. 

“In the garden, we can grow hope,” she says, “it grounds us and gives us something to look forward to.”

Dr. Smith and her husband have built The Barn Garden. Her book shares the research behind gardening’s healing effects on prison inmates and soldiers with PTSD and on patients suffering from grief and depression. What I found most interesting is the concept of how seeds are such tiny things packed with life. 

She says, “Think of the size of a sunflower seed, and compare it to a fully grown sunflower plant. The transformation is phenomenal. When you unlock the potential of a seed by watering and nurturing it, you bring something new into the world.”

Your unique talents are no different. 

Les Brown says, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

When we unlock the power of our unique gifts and talents by nurturing them, we bring something new into the world.

I saw it at The Laws of Success Mastermind with doctors, vendors and guest experts making new connections, taking the first step in a new direction in order to bring more value to everyone around them, clarifying their core values and zooming out to thoughtfully respond to the opportunities and challenges on their growth journey.

Here are five ways to unlock the potential of your unique talent and nurture your higher sense of purpose:

1. Set Goals and Write Them Down. 

This seems really simple, but the act of writing down what you want to achieve is so important to unlocking your true potential and highest contribution. If you’re like me, you’ve probably discovered there are times in your life where you were really diligent about writing down goals and things were going well, so you stopped writing them down. This is where we plateau. 

If you want to earn $1 million in net income, write it down. If you want to take a trip to Italy and learn how to make pasta, write it down. If you want to set aside time for a date night each week, write it down. If you want to improve your golf handicap by 3 strokes before the end of the season, write it down. 

The simple act of writing it down holds you accountable and attracts solutions, people and opportunities into your life, as if by magnetic attraction. 

2. Practice, practice, practice. 

Top-performing comedians, athletes, entrepreneurs and leaders all have one thing in common. They put in the work. It’s not enough to identify your unique talent and write down goals. You have to improve your existing talent and skills by putting in the work. 

At this weekend’s event, Adam Witty, CEO and Founder of Advantage | ForbesBooks, said the higher up the income pyramid you go, the more you’re paid for who you are, not what you do. And to be known for you who are, you must never settle or allow your skillset to become outdated. Upgrade your skills constantly.

3. Skip the shortcuts

Warren Buffett is one of the most-successful investors on the planet. At age 90, he has a net worth of more than $81 billion. What most people don’t know is that $71 billion of Buffett’s wealth has come after the age of 60. 

He started seriously investing at age 10. By the time he was 30, his net worth was $1 million (or $9.3 million adjusted for inflation). If he had spent money during his teens and 20’s, like most people, instead of investing and went on to invest at the same exceptional annual returns he’s been able to generate (around 22% annually) but quit investing at age 60 and hit the golf course, what would his net worth be today? Not $81 billion. It would be $11.9 million (99.9% less than his actual net worth).

Buffett actually isn’t the greatest investor of all times. Jim Simons, founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, has compounded revenue at 66% annually since 1988. No one comes close to this record. Buffett only compounds at roughly 22% annually (a third as much as Simons). And yet, Simons is worth around $23 billion (72% less than Warren Buffett).

Buffett has simply put in the work longer and more consistently than anyone else. In this example, good investing isn’t only about good returns, it’s about earning pretty good returns that you can stick with for a very long time.

Your unique skills and talents operate in the same way. If you only put them to use in brief moments, where you want to hit a few home runs, your results will pale in comparison to someone who consistently puts in the work and hits single after single after single.

4. Never Stop Learning. 

One common theme of everyone in the audience this weekend, almost without exception, is the fact that they never stop learning. They read books, download case studies, listen to podcasts and turn over every stone in search of a better way to do what they do or to test if what they are doing is working.

I applauded the group for blocking two days out of their practice to fly to Orlando and embark on a dive deep through the Laws of Success. Most of their peers were on spring break, fishing or hitting the golf course. There’s nothing wrong with any of these hobbies or vacations, but only if those same people are happy with their results and contributing to their highest level of performance and higher sense of purpose. 

The dirty little secret about success and why 95% of people never achieve what they really want to achieve in life is that they stop learning. 

When you learn something new or discover a better way of doing something, you’re morally obligated to test and implement in your life, for the benefit of everyone around you. 

Alternatively, if you simply ignore new and better ways of doing things and bury your head in the sand, you never have to risk the embarrassment of possible failure. You never have to stick your neck out… 

…and you get exactly what you deserve (i.e., the opposite of the top 5% who never stop learning).

5. Be Optimistic About Your Future.

I don’t know a single successful person with an abundance of wealth, health and happiness who has a pessimistic view about their future. Not one.

To embrace a positive vision of your future, be grateful for what you have now. Understand you have enough and wake up every single day with something to look forward to.

It might be morning coffee on the back yard deck while the sun rises, the opportunity to help a patient, customer or client, a beautiful sunset behind a mountain, a family trip or special event on the horizon. Whatever it is, find something to look forward to in the future.

* Members in Orlando this weekend took a deep dive on these topics and so much more. If you want to gain access to the recordings, workbook and handouts, click here to start the journey and unlock the true potential of your unique talents.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.