Go Ahead and Cheat

The Treadmill Altar
May 30, 2012
Is Your Brand Missing the Mark?
June 13, 2012

Don’t you wish you could dig into a hot-fudge sundae and there would be no repercussions. You’d gain no weight, your blood sugar wouldn’t spike, your cholesterol would not be effected. It would be a world where cheating was not cheating. Wouldn’t that be nice? You could simply indulge and enjoy the warm fudgy goodness. It may not ever be the case that indulging your sweet tooth won’t negatively impact your health, however, there are times when cheating is not only ok, it’s highly encouraged.

I recently worked with a client who was trying to decide where best to focus her time and energy to accomplish her goals and achieve success. I asked her to be specific about what success would look like in her life and she described a situation where she would have more time to write and research. When I suggested she make more time for those things in her life right now, she quickly shifted her focus to all the things she should be doing instead. She told me the things she loved like writing and researching, which also came very naturally for her, felt like extravagances. It felt like she would be somehow cheating to indulge in her preferences.

This way of thinking is, unfortunately, not an anomaly among most people. We feel like when things come too easily for us we are somehow not doing enough. We are breezing by when other people are working their tails off. However, this way of thinking is backwards. You SHOULD be spending the MAJORITY of your time doing those things at which you excel, those things which come easily to you. If everyone focused on their core brilliance, I guarantee the world would be a better place. Instead, however, we feel like we have to toil away to feel productive and significant.

When you spend your time doing things at which you do not naturally excel, you automatically put yourself at a disadvantage. As a singer I am a high soprano. If I tried to audition with a piece of music that was low and slow I would not do very well. Not only would it not show off the best part of my voice, but I would be competing against other singers whose voices shine in the lower register. Their best performance would always be better than mine in that situation. For me singing low and slow requires extra effort to keep my support and tone steady. For others, it’s as easy as slipping into a warm tub.

On the other hand, if I want to have the upper edge, I need to sing something that really moves and has a high range. Some singers open a page of music, see the scales and cadenzas, and they panic. I see a florid passage and I get excited. To me it feels like going into a dressing room and trying on a dress I know will make me look fantastic. It’s so comfortable, so natural.  In fact, florid singing for me comes so easily it almost feels like cheating, but it’s not. It’s what I’m made to do. Just like writing and researching are what my client is made to do.

Doing what comes naturally to you and what you enjoy doing is what you should be doing. You do what you do and let others do what they do. We would never expect a cherry tree to bear apples or a fish to stand up and walk. That’s not what they are made for. Why do we think we are any different? We have become so accustomed to believing things should feel difficult to be worth while. No pain no gain, right? But there is a big difference between working hard and hard work. I work hard when I sing long runs over and over again to build up stamina,  memorize complex patterns, or practice my cadenzas repeatedly to shape them just so. However, it never feels like hard work. It’s something I enjoy. It feels good to move my voice in the way it wants to naturally move. It feels good to put the effort in when I know I will not bump up against challenge after challenge. And that’s the way it should feel to you too whether your gift is singing or crunching numbers.

Part of the reason I think we continue to swim upstream is we do not value our own gifts. For some reason we do not think we are enough just as we are. What we forget, however, is that other people would give their right arm to be able to do what we do. Even if they would not actually give up a body part, they certainly would pay handsomely for it. I am very definitely a right brain person so I highly value anyone who is a logical, practical problem solver. Believe me when I say I highly value my accountant and I happily pay someone else to do my taxes.

It’s time to stop devaluing yourself and assuming that if something is easy for you, you shouldn’t do it. Not only should you do what comes easily for you, but you should leverage your talents and get paid well for them! There are so many times in life where we have to hold back when something feels good, but embracing your gifts isn’t one of them. So go ahead and give in to your temptation. If it feels like cheating, then I give you full permission to cheat.