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Play the Hand You Were Dealt

With excerpts from "Craig MacFarlane Hasn't Heard of You Either."

One of the best pieces of advice that I was ever given was to "Play the Hand You've Been Dealt."

I've heard the message in numerous ways but over the years I've come to realize that it was always the same message. I've heard it expressed as:

· Don't waste your time worrying about what you don't have.

· Don't pretend to be something you're not.

· Focus on what you have, not what you can't have.

What it has come to mean to me is this; we are all unique and have all been blessed with our own God-given gifts. Our responsibility is to develop those gifts to the best of our ability and not waste our time on false hopes and dreams, thinking "if only."

Now, let me make one thing very clear. There is a difference between having gifts and being "gifted." You have gifts. We all do. We all have passions and abilities that, if we develop them, can lead to incredible things in our lives. The truth of the matter is that you must take responsibility to develop those gifts, or nothing will come of them. You are responsible.

This advice, in a very direct manner, is another confirmation of the importance of knowing yourself. Lao Tzu once said, “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” In simple English, isn't that what Playing the Hand You Were Dealt is all about?

It is absolutely imperative that you have a brilliant understanding of yourself. I cannot over emphasize this point. You are a unique entity with a specific set of God given gifts that only you can FULLY appreciate. To optimize your chances of a happy, satisfying, fulfilled life, you need to be able to take full advantage of your uniqueness within the framework that is our world.

That means you don't know it all. You, me, all of us, have a great deal to learn to take full advantage of our uniqueness.

I was a strong, energetic, aggressive kid but that didn't make me a good wrestler. I had to learn the moves, the strategies, the thought process of being a winning wrestler. I studied other wrestlers, got inside their heads as much as I could, and then applied those lessons to who I was. I could never become them, but I could use what made them great to make me better, if I used it on my terms.

I was, and still am, an outgoing, talkative, curious, "everyone is just a friend I hadn't met yet" kind of person. That means I liked to talk, love to share my stories, make people laugh and inspire them to try. All great qualities that had nothing to do with making me a successful Inspirational Keynote Speaker until I learned the principles, the fundamentals and the disciplines of public speaking. As with wrestling, I learned by studying other successful speakers, but I never tried to become any of them. That was just never going to happen. I was never going to become Robin Williams or JFK but I could learn from both of them and someday I hope I can command a room like them. I have just taken what elevated their success and applied in my own way to become better over time.

Notice I didn't try to become a great racecar driver. I did buy my own car, which I backed into several ditches, and I burned rubber in Wayne Gretzky's Ferrari a couple times in empty parking lots, but that was the limit of making that dream real. I also didn't pursue the dream of becoming a star hockey player, or an expert marksman or a thoracic surgeon or a dentist. All ideas that I would have loved to pursue but not possible in any meaningful way, considering the hand I've been dealt. I stayed within myself and the results speak for themselves.

What are the trump cards in your hand? What untapped asset do you possess that could change your life if you did tap into it? What are the God-given gifts that you should be developing? What are the opportunities around you that align with your assets? What great things could you make happen in your life if you took the action now to match your gifts to your circumstances? What are the gifts your kids, or your grand kids, should be starting to develop now? How can you use your gifts to help them find theirs? You don't want to be one of those people we all know who say, "I should have, I would have, I could have."

Soon, people will be saying you got lucky too, but you'll know, you made it happen for yourself. You have it within you. You have your own unique, personal dynamic, in the form of that special combination of gifts God gave you! Do you know what your gifts are? Have you fully developed your gifts? Are you even trying? Why don't you start now?

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