you have something to offer

if you’re like me, you do this thing all the time.

you know, this thing where once you’ve achieved a new goal or climbed a new mountain, you immediately look ahead to the next one, and from where you are standing, the next goal or mountain always looks a whole lot huger than the one you just conquered.

there’s nothing wrong with being forward-looking. this endless, passionate pursuit to improve, expand, grow, and multiply is what drives fresh ideas and new inventions. but let’s stop doing that thing – that thing where we start belittling our past accomplishments and making them seem really tiny in comparison to all we have yet to achieve.

why do we do this? because acknowledging how far we’ve come means acknowledging that we have something to offer – something to teach, somebody to mentor, some capacity to contribute. and sometimes we genuinely doubt we are capable of teaching, mentoring, or contributing.

yet that’s the best way to get even better at what we’re already good at. it’s easy enough to just be great at stuff, but having to pass our knowledge, experience, and skills on to someone else requires more competency than it would take to just do something on your own.

sometimes i feel like i have nothing to offer. i still feel like a novice runner when i compare myself to others who have been running for years. i still feel like an amateur writer when i read Jeff Goins and Danielle LaPorte.

but then i tell myself: “hey, one year ago, before you believed you could run even 10k, you were intimidated by anyone who’d finished a half marathon. a couple years ago, you were still deciding whether to major in communications and media.”

to my 21-year old self, a marathon veteran wouldn’t be very much more intimidating than who i am today. to my teenage self, someone who was actually getting paid to write would be almost an idol.

so although i might be far from my ideal half marathon time, i’m still further than i was a year ago. although i might be even further from publishing a book, i’m still further than i was a year ago.

which means i can wholeheartedly, genuinely, convincingly say, to someone who shudders at the thought of 5k: “i used to be the same, one year ago, and guess what? it IS possible to get better. and this is how you do it…”

just this morning a friend wrote to me, asking for help on a writing assignment, which he felt needed a stronger angle. he was worrying that there wouldn’t be enough time to write the piece if he decided to change his topic to a stronger one. i said: “don’t sweat the writing. the writing is not the hard work. get your topic right, then the rest will come easily. people never see how much effort is put into strategy – but that’s the most important thing. here are my suggestions…”

and it hit me – i actually have valuable insights to share. the excuse that “because i’m not Jeff Goins, i have nothing to give” was just that – an excuse.

wherever you are, you’re further than you were yesterday. whatever your skill level, there’s someone who could use your knowledge and experience.

don’t fall for the excuse that you have nothing to offer. you may not have everything, but you have SOMETHING. give it, and you will get even better.